BETHLEHEM - After the draft and free agency, it was hard to see how Joe Mays fit into the Eagles' crowded linebacking picture.

Turns out he didn't.

The Eagles traded Mays to the Denver Broncos last night for former Arizona Cardinals running back J.J. Arrington, the team announced.

Arrington would have been a really exciting pickup a few years ago, when he looked like a pass-catching back with Brian Westbrook-type potential. But microfracture surgery on his right knee last year changed that picture drastically.

Arrington, who didn't play last season, was quoted this week as saying his knee is "getting better every day," but the Broncos hadn't started hitting yet, which Denver coaches said would be a big hurdle.

The Eagles said Arrington still has to pass a physical. The Eagles will get a sixth-round pick in 2012 if Arrington doesn.t make team.

Arrington (5-9, 212) was the 44th player taken in the 2005 draft, from Cal. Mays was a sixth-round pick in 2008 from North Dakota State.

The Eagles had high hopes for Mays, but he flubbed a chance at the middle linebacking job and faded into the margins.

Arrington played a prominent role on the Cardinals team that defeated the Eagles in the NFC title game after the 2008 season. His knee started bothering him right after the Super Bowl loss to the Steelers.

- Les Bowen