It's a dark day in Eagles Nation.
If you have the stomach for it, here's the link to the story on the Denver Broncos' Web site about the signing of Brian Dawkins today. Dawk didn't want to talk about Philadelphia during his press conference in Denver. Aparently, the five-year, $17 million deal boils down to two years and $9 million guaranteed. When the Eagles last extended Dawk's deal in August 2006, he got just $6 million in new money, spread over three seasons. I think we can assume $9 million over two years was way, way more than the Birds had planned on spending on a 35-year-old free safety.
Also, the Eagles confirmed the Lito Sheppard trade with the Jets, for a fith-round pick this year and a 2010 pick that can be anywhere from a second- to a fourth-rounder, depending on how Lito fares. (They couldn't have gotten this a year ago? Of course they could have.)
My take on Dawk: Ultimately, the loss of the longest-tenured Eagle might not harm the defense as much as it harms the psyche of the fan base. Dawkins really did struggle early last season, before a role adjustment helped him dominate down the stretch. But if anybody ever earned the right to grow old gracefully, to net a "reward" contract near the end of his career, it's Dawk. I think public opinion was the main reason Birds management cobbled together Dawkins' 2006 extension; the team was acting against its "precepts" even when Dawk was 33. This time, I think management, in yet another example of the tone-deafness that has long rankled the rank and file, thought a bare-bones offer would be accepted because Dawkins didn't want to leave. If Dawkins didn't want to take a bare-bones offer, well, that would be that.
Value in catering to the fans by giving Dawk a two-year deal, even if you doubt he has two good years left? Why, whatever could you mean? Fan revolt? What's that? Is this like the time the peasants got all upset about not being able to take those long, cylindrical sandwiches into the stadium? How quaint!
Meanwhile, the Eagles officially announced the addition of Stacy Andrews this morning, signed to a 6-year contract that is believed to average about $7 million a year. Eagles coach Andy Reid was coy about whether Andrews will play guard or tackle -- Reid wants to keep his options open, with other o-line signings possible during free agency -- but I have to think the Birds aren't giving a guard $7 million a year, in the long run.
The Jan. 7 ACL surgery that might have made Andrews less attractive in free agency to some teams didn't bother the Birds, Reid said. "We feel very confident about his knee," Reid said.
Later, in a conference call with reporters, Eagles guard Shawn Andrews said the opportunity to play on an o-line with his brother was "a pleasure, an honor, and a gift." He said if Stacy does end up at right tackle, next to Shawn at right guard, they will form "The Great Wall of Philadelphia."
Reid, by the way, announced at the onset of the Stacy Andrews press conference that he would not discuss other situations, including the Dawkins matter. Near the end of the session, ESPN Radio reporter Brian Seltzer tried respectfully to convey to Reid that despite his statement, fans throughout the region would want to know what he had to say about Dawkins. Reid then upbraided Seltzer for disregarding his "rules."
Later, after the Dawkins signing was announced, Reid released this statement.
Shawn Andrews said Dawkins going to Denver would be "definitely a loss to the team and a loss to me personally."
"If I had to pinpoint one guy, since I've been in Philadelphia that I respect as a husband, as a father, as an athlete, a football player, it would be Dawkins. He will be dearly, dearly missed."