Sitting over in the NovaCare Complex on Sunday when the Eagles traded two fifth-round picks for Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs, two questions immediately hit me:
1) What does this mean for disgruntled corner Sheldon Brown?
2) Why did it only take two fifth-rounders to acquire a starting corner?
We're going to take these in reverse order. Why fifth-rounders for a guy who has started for the better part of four years? You do have to wonder a little bit. You do have to wonder about why the Patriots have spent the off-season acquiring new secondary talent, making Hobbs expendable. The price was pretty reasonable, especially for a player at such an important position. So let's not go too crazy about what they got here. They got a professional player, and a guy who is young enough that he might still be getting better. Don't say much more than that, though, until we see more.
Then there is the Brown question. This isn't about him anymore -- it's about other people. Two of them are Andy Reid and Joe Banner, and they are not likely to acquiesce quickly to Brown's demand for a new contract and/or a trade -- because that's not what they do. Even more important than them, though, is the unspellable Jack Ikegwuonu (and, to a lesser degree, just-drafted Victor Harris). One of them has to be able to play or the Eagles cannot move Brown.
Remember: Lito Sheppard is gone now, and the Eagles play four cornerbacks a decent percentage of the time. And if the fourth guy can't play, opposing offenses will make the Eagles play four cornerbacks an even higher percentage of the time. And it's not even that: they play three corners a ton of the time, and if somebody sprains an ankle, the fourth has to play in place of one of the first three, and the other teams will find him on the field every damn time if he can't play.
When I listen to Reid talk about this stuff, I try to hear the truth beneath the words. And when Reid talked Sunday about Ikegwuonu, who missed his rookie season injured, he said, “Jack is coming off the major knee [surgery]. He has been doing the offseason program and it looks like he has a chance. He is a little bit rusty right now but he is working his tail off so we will add him into the mix.”
That does not sound like a ringing endorsement. This is going to have to play out. Brown has no chance to be moved until the Eagles are convinced Ikegwuonu or Harris (or somebody) can get on the field.