Peter Schaffer, the agent for former Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas, has confirmed that his client has signed a three-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Although it was clear that the Eagles wanted to move in a different direction at left tackle after Thomas had been their starter for 11 seasons, Schaffer said there was no animosity between the player and the team.
"Our dealings with the Eagles were honest, forward and pleasant," Schaffer said. "Just because you don't get a deal done and just because you disagree doesn't mean that you don't have admiration or friendship for the other side. There's no acrimony or aninmosity.
"As much as Philadelphia had been a part of Tra's life, he was up in the Jacksonville area and it's a dream come true for him to finish his career there."
Thomas, 34, grew up in Deland, Fla. and played at Florida State University. Deland is a little more than 100 miles from Jacksonville.
"I'm very excited about coming back and playing in my home area in Florida," Thomas said during a news conference in Jacksonville. "I want to play here as long as I possibly can. I want to finish my football career here."
As for the Eagles' lack of interest, he said, "it was a shock to me, but I'm glad this worked out for me."
Thomas, who will replace another free agent Khalif Barnes as the Jags' starting left tackle, admitted there wasn't a lot of interest from other teams other than Jacksonville.
"I guess a lot of teams already had the position solidified," Thomas said. "There were only a handful of teams that needed that position filled. With the draft coming up, some people are waiting to see what's going to happen there."
The Eagles' long-time left tackle said he felt he was coming off one of his best years and he reiterated a long-time goal of wanting to play 20 years in the league. The upcoming season will be his 12th.
"Last year was probably one of my better years ...," he said. "I faced some of the top defensive ends ... and I shut down a lot of those guys. I only gave up two sacks during the regular season. I felt like I played pretty decent. Run blocking has always been a challenge for me and that's something I'm definitely going to have to work on."
Although Thomas' departure won't evoke nearly as much outrage as Brian Dawkins' exit, it could easily be argued that replacing a left tackle who had been here 11 years is a lot more difficult and important than replacing a free safety, even one who might end up in the Hall of Fame some day.
Thomas, of course, wasn't as vocal off the field as Dawkins, but if you ever watched the NFL Films sideline shots of Eagles games, you would always see the giant left tackle talking to his teammates. Of course, the giant left tackle also has the ultra-important job of protecting quarterback Donovan McNabb's blind side. When a team throws the football as much as the Eagles do, that's a fairly important role.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles plan to replace Thomas. If the replacement comes from the current roster, it would probably be Todd Herremans, who started four games at left tackle as a rookie and also played the position at Saginaw Valley State. The Eagles could also trade or draft a left tackle. While it's not ideal to have a rookie starting at the position, it does happen. Thomas, in fact, started as a rookie, albeit on a bad Eagles team.
This was a team that showed some interest in me and also coming back home. I'm very excited about coming back and playing in my home area in Florida.
Really not that many was biting at me. Jacksonville, once I came here ... I knew this was going to be a perfect fit for me. I have several years left in my tank. I take good care of myself and I'm always in the weight room training. I'm going to find a house to stay in so I can get here and start with the offseason program as soon as possible.