Trade analysis: How will Eagles replace Brown?

The Eagles have dealt Chris Gocong (left) and Sheldon Brown to Cleveland. (File photos)

As you've likely heard by now, the Eagles have dealt linebacker Chris Gocong and cornerback Sheldon Brown to the Browns for linebacker Alex Hall, along with a fourth- and a fifth-round pick in this month's draft.

Let's start with Gocong.

As you know, he was not a good fit here. I don't know if he'll be a good fit in Cleveland, but any deal the Eagles could have made to get a pick for him should be considered a success. He seemed like a high-character guy, and he didn't fuss last year when he was benched, but the bottom line is he didn't make enough plays. He was not an impact player.

The loss of Brown, though, is different.


Is sending Chris Gocong and Sheldon Brown to the Cleveland a good move by the Eagles?

Before looking at the team's cornerback situation, let's recognize Brown's accomplishments. The guy could pretty much stand as the prototype for what this city wants in a cornerback: tough, a great leader, dependable, a great teammate, a sure tackler and a playmaker.

One immediate concern here is leadership. Gone from the roster over the past two seasons are Brown and Brian Dawkins, two of the guys the younger players looked up to. Anyone who thinks this wasn't an issue last season is kidding themselves. There was confusion in the secondary throughout the year, and it'd be reasonable to expect that to continue next season.

When both Ellis Hobbs and Sheldon Brown rotated in and out at the second cornerback position early in the season, Brown was clearly better, in my opinion. I'm going to go back and look at my notes to see just how much better, but Hobbs was definitely a downgrade.

If the Birds are trusting Hobbs to play opposite Asante Samuel, the secondary should immediately be considered one of the team's biggest concerns going into next season. I haven't even mentioned yet that Hobbs suffered a season-ending neck injury during the year.

The only other option currently on the roster could be Macho Harris. He spent last season at safety, but the Birds have since added Marlin Jackson.

What would make more sense is that the guy who will be playing opposite Samuel isn't on the roster right now. That means one of two things.

One, the Eagles could go cornerback early in the draft. They now have 10 draft picks and have shown in the past that they are willing to move up if there's a player they like. Cornerback is a position the franchise has valued greatly (like DE and QB) during the Andy Reid era.

The other option would be to acquire a corner through a trade. There's that whole QB situation (c'mon, you didn't think we'd go a whole post without mentioning No. 5, did you?) still to be resolved. Some of you asked on Twitter whether the Brown deal is directly related to a possible trade for Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Interesting thought, but I wouldn't read that much into it.

The bottom line is that the defense is littered with question marks in every area. I'll go into more detail in a Saturday post, but think about it - DE, DT, LB, CB, Safety - concerns with personnel across the board. I don't want to go overboard, but this year's draft looks like it will have a huge impact on the direction this defense is headed.

And so, just over five years since the Eagles went to their second Super Bowl in franchise history, only three players remain from that team: Donovan McNabb, Quintin Mikell and David Akers.

The roster turnover in the last two seasons is unbelievable. And, of course, there could very well be one more major move still coming.

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