Ryan Madson deal, plus Valkyrie, Ryan Howard, and the Eagles wide receiving situation

UPDATED: 12:50 p.m.

The Phillies have wrapped up a deal with Ryan Madson, according to sources, although an announcement isn't likely today in part because of MLK day.

I'm still trying to figure out exact terms of the deal, though three-years and $12 million has been reported elsewhere. Still trying to confirm that.


We've got lots of Phillies-related stuff here, but I'd be remiss if I didn't offer my thoughts on yesterday's Eagles game. I'm sure many of you came to High Cheese because you want to escape such talk. But on various appearances of Daily News Live dating back to training camp, I've been asked to engage in discussions concerning the Eagles, so I feel comfortable offering up my final $0.02 here.

That said, we'll look at some Phillies stuff first, and those who actually want to read about the Eagles can do so below.

Here is the Phillies run-down

1) Contrary to what you read here earlier, salary arbitration figures won't be exchanged until tomorrow because of MLK day. The only real drama surrounds Ryan Howard. I have no earthly idea how much he and Casey Close will ask for. And I have no earthly idea how much the Phillies might offer. Remember, they were $3 million apart last season. It'll be very interesting to see the gap this year.

2) Cole Hamels gave a thumbs up to Valkyrie yesterday. That's the Tom Cruise flick he and his wife were watching whne agent John Boggs phones to deliver news of his new contract extension. Hamels said he wants to remain a Phillie for a long time. The three-year contract seems to be a no-brainer for both sides. While on the surface it looks like the Phillies are assuming most of the risk, they don't have to worry about arbitration with Hamels, and they'll have another shot at signing him before he reaches the open market. And, over three years, they are paying him less than they paid - and are paying - Adam Eaton.

3) Back to Howard: still no movement on extension talks. Don't hold your breath.

4) The Phillies continue to explore the possibility of a long-term deal with righthander Ryan Madson. I think it is going to happen at some point.

5) Twenty-five days until the first official workout of spring training.


Now, on to the Eagles. . .

First, let me preface this by saying that I have a lot of respect for Joe Banner. I think he's done a tremendous job working within the confines of this New-World NFL to enable the personnel department to consistently turn out a team that has had a chance at winning for nine straight seasons.

That said, while watching Larry Fitzgerald look like a man among boys yesterday, I couldn't help but flash back to a conversation we had on DNL during the preseason. At the time, Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown were both hurt, and the wide receiver position was - again - the center of some great debate. The Eagles, as they have for the past decade, were poo-poohing the concerns the same way they poo-poohed the concerns when - at varying times throughout Donvoan McNabb's career - his No. 1 option was Charles Johnson or James Thrash or Todd Pinkston. While acknowledging the Eagles' philosophy when it comes to wideouts, I asked Banner whether he understood why fans had so much dissatisfaction with the position. After all, the party line had always been that the West Coast offense was not designed for one receiver to dominate. Yet the one year the Eagles had a dominant receiver, they happened to go to the Super Bowl.

Banner's answer was the one you'd expect. In layman's terms, you can only spend so much money, and we think the way we allocate our money is the best way.

But anybody who watched yesterday's game saw first-hand the power of a franchise, go-to wide reciever. When Donovan McNabb asked for play-makers in the offseason, that is the kind of play-maker he was talking about. This is Philly, and we like to assign blame to one party, and so a lot of the focus today has been on the defense, or on Reid, or on McNabb's shaky first half. But to me, the one glaring weakness throughout the entire season has been the receiving corps. Sure, McNabb missed some open receivers yesterday. But every quarterback is going to miss open receivers. What the Eagles miss as a team is a guy who McNabb can zero in on in go-to situations, a guy who can win a jump ball when a ball is not perfect. A guy who can break tackles after the catch and turn an eight-yard gain into a firt down. Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson are a good step. But both lacked the size to - at least this season - become a bona fide No. 1.

So McNabb was left with Jason Avant on third downs.

Kurt Warner, meanwhile, had Larry Fitzgerald.

That is all.