The Eagles have traded cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong to the Browns for fourth and fifth round draft picks and linebacker Alex Hall, the team announced today.
The Eagles will have the 104th overall pick in the fourth round and the 137th overall pick in the fifth round. They now have ten draft picks.
“Sheldon Brown has been a very good football player for the Eagles over the last eight years,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “He’s a good person, a legitimate tough guy and he’ll do a good job helping the Browns. Chris did a good job converting from defensive end to linebacker and helped us win a lot of football games. We wish both of them all of the best.”
Messages left with Brown and Gocong and their agents were not immediately returned.
Brown was an unhappy camper the last year. He publicly griped about his contract last April and the Eagles responded with a press release that essentially said shut up and play. For the most part, he did. He played in every game -- once again -- and had one of his better seasons, recording 68 tackles and five interceptions. Reid admitted last week at the owners' meetings that the Eagles had received inquiries about their last holdover from the 2004 NFC champion starting defense.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, during a conference call, said that moving Brown was a football decision and had nothing to do with his contract situation. Roseman was asked what he would say to fans that were upset about Brown's departure.
"What I'd say is we're trying to build a great team and a great defense and a team that they're proud of," Roseman said. "And we're going to execute that. Sheldon is one of my favorite players. I told him that when I spoke to him today."
With Brown gone, Ellis Hobbs will step into his cornerback spot, Roseman said. Hobbs suffered a season-ending neck injury last November and had surgery to correct a herniated disk the following month. The Eagles expect him to be back by the start of the season.
Roseman also mentioned Joselio Hanson as an option to replace Brown. Roseman would not say if Macho Harris was being moved from safety to cornerback. He also said that there could be a cornerback in the draft capable of stepping in and starting right away.
Brown is the latest veteran Eagles player to be sent packing. The Eagles have either released or traded the following players over the last month: running back Brian Westbrook, linebacker Will Witherspoon, wide receiver Reggie Brown, defensive end Chris Clemons, guard Shawn Andrews, defensive end Darren Howard, wide receiver Kevin Curtis, Brown and Gocong.
Roseman said the team was not rebuilding.
"I think all those veterans have been good players for us," he said. "I don’t want to slight any of them. ... We looked at it going forward and what kind of team we wanted going forward. … It won't take full shape until minicamp. Sometimes when you look at a piecemeal it doesn’t all come together."
Gocong started most of last season at strong-side linebacker, but eventually lost his spot to Fokou. He could benefit from playing in Cleveland's 3-4 defensive scheme. Browns GM Tom Heckert helped draft Gocong four years ago when he was with the Eagles and obviously still sees something in the 26 year old.
The 6-5, 250-pound Hall played in 30 games (2 starts) for the Cleveland Browns and recorded 30 tackles and three sacks, while adding 18 stops on special teams. His sacks came in three consecutive games during the early portion of his rookie campaign of 2008. The 24-year-old Hall was a 7th round draft choice of the Browns.
"Alex Hall is a big, athletic linebacker who we’ve had our eyes on over the last couple of years and he’ll have a chance to compete at the SAM linebacker spot," Roseman said in a statement.
With the acquisition of Cleveland’s 5th round pick, the Eagles now have 10 total selections in this year’s draft: 1st round (24th overall), 2nd round (55), 3rd round (70, from Seattle), 3rd round (87), 4th round (105, from Cleveland), 4th round (121), 5th round (137, from Cleveland), 6th round (200, from Indianapolis), 7th round (243, compensatory pick), and 7th round (244, compensatory pick).
"I think it's exciting," Roseman said. "It allows us to have a lot of options on draft weekend. If we want to move up or around it gives us options."