Akers balks at Eagles' offer

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While the Eagles were able to lock up the centerpiece of their team and tender four other players on Wednesday - at least for the time being - their longest-tenured player remained unsigned with less than a day until the NFL's collective bargaining agreement expires.

On the day on which quarterback Michael Vick accepted a franchise tender and inked a one-year contract, David Akers' agent said that the kicker would not sign the Eagles' transition tender. The team placed tags on both players on Feb. 15.

Akers' decision to not sign didn't come as a surprise. His agent, Jerrold Colton, said two weeks ago that his client was "disappointed" with the designation. Although Akers would earn approximately $2.8 million next season under the tender, he would stand to earn significantly more as an unrestricted free agent.

With the transition tag and its right of first refusal, the Eagles could match any offer from another team. They would not receive compensation if Akers left, though.

"It was never something that we were going to sign at this point," said Colton, who added that Akers' "feelings haven't changed," in reference to the transition label.

Vick, meanwhile, tweeted that he was "proud to be an Eagle!" after he signed his tender. Based on 2010 salaries for the top five quarterbacks in the league, he would earn slightly over $16 million next season. He could make up to $20 million depending upon the new CBA.

Of course, a new CBA could render the franchise and transition tags invalid - a claim the NFLPA has previously made.

Even with all the uncertainty surrounding a labor agreement - the deal expires Thursday at midnight - the Eagles forged ahead with their plans and tendered four restricted free agents under the current system. Linebacker Stewart Bradley, guard Max Jean-Gilles, cornerback Dimitri Patterson, and running back Eldra Buckley received tenders.

Bradley, who missed the last month of the season with an injured elbow, was tendered at a second-round level. If the five-year player returns next season he is expected to compete with Jamar Chaney for the starting middle linebacker position.

Jean-Gilles, who started at right guard for 10 games last season, received a fourth-round tender. If either player receives an offer sheet from another team, the Eagles would have the option to match. If they chose not to they would get the tendered draft pick as compensation.

Patterson opened last season as a special teams contributor but was pressed into the starting right cornerback spot when Ellis Hobbs got injured. The Eagles have the right of first refusal if Patterson draws an offer, but they would not receive compensation if he leaves.

The Eagles have exclusive rights to Buckley. Last offseason, running back Mike Bell was the only restricted free agent to switch teams when he left the Saints for the Eagles.

Before last offseason, players with four or five years experience - such as the tendered Eagles free agents - were unrestricted free agents. A new CBA could revert to the old rules, and the Eagles' tenders would be meaningless under a new deal.

The Eagles have until 3 p.m. to tender the rest of their restricted free agents - guard Nick Cole, linebacker Omar Gaither, defensive back Antoine Harris, running back Jerome Harrison, cornerback Ellis Hobbs, linebacker Akeem Jordan, punter Sav Rocca, linebacker Ernie Sims, and guard Reggie Wells.

Even if the Eagles don't tender those players it doesn't necessarily mean they won't be back next season. Akers' not signing his tender does not mean his 12-year stay with the Eagles is over, either. The team didn't expect him to sign, a team source said.

Both sides attempted to negotiate a long-term contract toward the end of last season and could resume talks once a new CBA is in place.

Akers was voted to his fifth Pro Bowl last season, when he kicked a career second-best 32 field goals and tallied 143 points. His season came to a disappointing end, however, when he missed two field goals in a playoff loss to the Packers.

New coach. The Eagles named Matt Nagy, who played football at Delaware, their offensive quality control coach. Nagy held an organizational position for the team last season but was seen often helping out at practice.

 


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.