NFC East: Tra Thomas
Tra Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowler in his 12-year career as a left tackle, is trying to be the exception. Thomas joined Chip Kelly’s staff through the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship. After a spring and summer of working alongside offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, Thomas was given a full-time job this week.
“He was here all through camp, extremely dedicated, one of the all-time great Eagles,” Kelly said. “I think the experience he brings -- not only as a player, he can relate to the offensive linemen.”
Thomas once told me his goal was to be named MVP of the league while playing left tackle. That never quite happened, but he was a big (6-foot-7, 350 pounds), agile blocker who protected Donovan McNabb’s blind side with a nasty streak in his style. It is no coincidence the Andy Reid era began its decline after 2008, the last year Thomas and Jon Runyan bookended the offensive line.
But it turns out Thomas was more than just a bigger, more athletically gifted guy.
“When you sit there and watch film with him, it’s just how much he’s studied tape on his own and what he learned about the game,” Kelly said. “I think he’s imparted that to a lot of the young linemen we have.”
Thomas, 38, said he consults with Stoutland before offering advice to a player.
“You try to teach them as much as they can,” Thomas said. “All you can do is give them the technique and then it’s up to them.”
Thomas said he hasn’t thought about long-term goals in coaching. He’s just enjoying this chance to stay in the game.
“The hours are a lot different,” Thomas said. “I learned that right away.”
"Expect the unexpected" was one piece of advice Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had for new Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys' official site looks back on the significance of the 1991 draft.
New York Giants
UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, a player the Giants are reportedly interested in, improved on his 40-yard dash time during his pro day workout on Tuesday.
"The Suburbanites" will be back together in May to be honored at a dinner to benefit Life Athletes.
Former Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas is getting ready to open the doors to his new training center.
Moving the Chains has an update on the players the Eagles will work out prior to the draft.
Brian Orakpo is fulfilling a promise he made to himself before he hit it big.
USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith will visit with the Redskins before next month's draft.
"The difference is it is really not the West Coast offense," told the Sport Fix show. "Every coach has their own form of the West Coast offense. There are some things that are different verbiage-wise. Here in this offense you are pretty much telling the receivers what route they are running. Also the protection of the line is different. So offensively for a quarterback, there is big change. When you have been a part of an offense for 11 years and now try to absorb a newer offense and concepts and what the mindset of these coaches have, it is tough. It is tough, but I have just been trying to put in that extra time, communicating with these coaches and just make sure when once we hit training camp, I have a better grasp and a better feel of what we like to do here."
I honestly believe the whole blocking scheme angle is really an underrated topic. McNabb spent so much time with offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan over the years that he knew exactly where they would be on each play. He'll now have to adjust to a rookie playing at left tackle and either Stephon Heyer or Artis Hicks playing on the right side. And keep in mind that those players are also trying to learn Shanahan's scheme.
That's why I'm a bit reluctant to simply hand the Redskins six or seven extra wins this season based on McNabb's arrival. You guys have the same concerns or do you think I'm overreacting?
"We have had a conversation with his agent," said Allen.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a follow-up question to press Allen on his interest level. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com called Woy to see what was going on with Adams. Woy said it was "too early to tell" where his client would land. But you'd think there would be a decent market for a Pro Bowl left tackle who could probably start for another two seasons.
If the Redskins signed Adams, they might not feel the pressure to take Oklahoma State's Russell Okung at No. 4 overall. And they'd also have another player on the roster who'd be dying to prove that his former team made a big mistake. Donovan McNabb should be in Allen's office right now campaigning for Adams.
He knows what it's like to play behind veteran offensive tackles. Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan kept him on his feet for a lot of years in Philly. As it stands now, McNabb could end up operating behind a rookie left tackle and Stephon Heyer on the right side. And who's going to play right guard? Mike Williams?
Right now, the offensive line is the only reason I'm not ready to call the Skins a playoff contender. But signing Adams might make me rethink that position. Let's ponder that thought in the "comments" section.
Sorry, but I'm not there yet. Clayton points out that the addition of Brett Favre to the Vikings added 5.7 points per game and took them from 10 to 12 wins (and an NFC title game appearance).
My issue with that comparison is that McNabb won't have anywhere near the talent surrounding him Favre enjoyed. The Vikings had the best running back in the league heading into the 2009 season. The Redskins counter with a stable of running backs who each peaked about four years ago. I realize Clinton Portis was good in 2008 but he faded late.
Let's not act like drafting Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung in this month's draft is going to completely fix one of the worst offensive lines in the league. What, did you guys get excited about that Artis Hicks signing? He couldn't start for the Vikings last season but I guess he'll get the Redskins to the next level.
By trading for McNabb, Shanahan is acting as if the Redskins are prepared to win now. You don't pay an aging quarterback $11.2 million in 2010 to be a stopgap player. To me, this smacks of the old Dan Snyder way of doing business. McNabb is a blockbuster name like, say, Deion Sanders or Bruce Smith. It sounds like another expensive shortcut, albeit a highly-intriguing one.
But let's not forget McNabb finished his 2009 campaign by playing miserably in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys. Are the Redskins a better team with McNabb at quarterback? Of course they are. But it's hard to imagine him making a seven-win difference -- and that's what it would probably take to challenge for a division title. Clayton immediately has the Redskins passing the Eagles with this move.
"As for the Eagles, who were 11-5 last season, the pressure falls on the unproven quarterback Kevin Kolb," writes Clayton. "With this being his first year as the full-time starter, we can expect a two- or three-win drop in the Eagles' record because first-year starters have difficulty winning close games. The Packers experienced that after they traded Favre to the New York Jets for a second-round choice in 2008. Even though Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 4,000 yards in 2008, he struggled in the fourth quarter of close games, and the Packers dropped from 13-3 to 6-10."
Again, the good news for Eagles fans is that McNabb isn't exactly inheriting the Fun Bunch. Santana Moss still has breakaway speed, but he needs time to get open. And let's not act like McNabb is the same guy who once kept a play alive for 14 seconds on "Monday Night Football" against the Cowboys. In Philadelphia, McNabb played the majority of his career with offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. He'll likely be breaking in a rookie on his blindside in 2010 and the pedestrian Stephon Heyer will man the right side.
This is certainly a fascinating trade in terms of its impact on two franchises, but to say that Washington and Dallas are the co-favorites in the division is a pretty big stretch.
On the surface, a 5-3 record puts a team in the thick of the NFC playoff race. But it's safe to say the Eagles are at a critical juncture in the season.
In the decade since Andy Reid took over, the Eagles have been notoriously slow starters. Even when they were making annual visits to the NFC title game, there were slow starts. In 2003, the Eagles began the season 2-3 before finishing 12-4 and losing to the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game.
The 2004 Super Bowl team was the exception with a 7-0 start, and that may have been the most talented roster top to bottom in the organization's history. (Joe Banner prefers the '09 team).
A lot of us predicted great things for the '09 Eagles based on the arrival of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters and rookies Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. But our point of reference -- an improbable trip to the '08 NFC title game -- is faulty at best. It's easy to forget that the '08 team dropped a road game to a bad Bears team and then had an embarrassing tie with the Bengals in November.
Controlling their destiny last December, the Eagles recorded a shameful loss to a Redskins team that had already imploded. That team needed a miracle on the final Sunday of the season, and that's exactly what the Raiders delivered with a win at Tampa Bay that put the Eagles back in playoff contention.
You think the Eagles might someday realize that wins in October and November might actually make life easier, but there are clear signs they haven't gotten the message. There's not a single excuse for how a team with this much talent can go on the road and lose to Tom Cable's Raiders.
Reid will finish his career as one of the winningest coaches in league history, but that doesn't cancel out the fact that his teams play with a remarkable lack of focus at times. Even with all of his West Coast genius, Reid still makes stunningly poor decisions in managing games. After losses, he always mutters something about needing to put his team in better positions to succeed. But he almost never offers actual explanations for why his teams seem to have at least one or two disastrous losses in the first three months of the season.
And because you can only beat your head against the wall so many times after Reid news conferences, let me float a theory that may or may not hold water. During all those runs to NFC title games earlier this decade, Reid had enough veteran leaders in the locker room who could seemingly flip a switch at the midway point and help lead the Eagles to NFC titles.
Players such as Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins and Jon Runyan helped Reid create an atmosphere devoid of panic. But you'll notice that two names from that list -- Dawkins and Runyan -- played their final seasons with the Eagles in '08. And longtime left tackle Tra Thomas was allowed to enter free agency, making room for the celebrated trade for Peters. A former team leader, Jeremiah Trotter, has returned to the team but a lot players in the locker room aren't familiar with his previous work.
The current leaders of this team -- Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Quintin Mikell -- are doing the best they can, but they find themselves surrounded by youngsters. Some of that's a good thing because it's obvious that DeSean Jackson, Maclin and McCoy are the future of this team. But because of injuries at some key spots, the Eagles are being forced to get even younger. We haven't seen cornerback Dimitri Patterson in weeks because of injuries, but he's probably about to become the nickel cornerback in the absence of the suspended Joselio Hanson.
The Eagles have had an abundance of injuries along the offensive line and at linebacker, but other teams are dealing with similar situations. I think, more than ever, the Eagles need a coach who constantly stays on top of his players. Is Reid that guy? Well, I don't think he has much choice right now.
I've heard former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson say that there are a handful of players in every NFL locker room who are capable of motivating themselves. Johnson says that coaches have to take care of the other 48 players on the roster each week.
It's not too late for the Eagles to make one of their patented runs toward the playoffs. But they can't afford to wait as long as they usually do.
A look at the key loss and his replacement for each team in the division:
Who's out: Terrell Owens, WR, cut and signed with Bills
Who's in: Roy Williams, WR
Outlook: Williams was acquired so that he could complement T.O., but that thought was abandoned when Jerry Jones released T.O. after the season.
Williams becomes the de facto No. 1 receiver -- and he'll face enormous pressure. His '08 campaign was shaky at best, but he'll get every opportunity to shine this season. In my mind, 65 catches for 850 yards and eight touchdowns sounds about right.
Williams needs Miles Austin to continue to develop as the potential No. 2 receiver. Austin's speed could open things up for Williams to work the middle of the field. Williams has been frustrated by all the doubters, but they're not going anywhere -- unless he helps take the Cowboys to a playoff game.
Who's out: Plaxico Burress, WR, free agent awaiting trial
Who's in: Hakeem Nicks, WR
But Nicks is too much of a playmaker to redshirt. At some point this season, he'll be called on to play a significant role. I think Eli Manning is relieved to not have the Plax drama hanging over his head this offseason.
I know that rookie Ramses Barden has a body type more like Burress', but he's more of a project at this point. Early in the season, the Giants will lean heavily on the running game. That should buy Nicks and Barden some time to grow up.
Who's out: Tra Thomas, LT, cut and signed with Jaguars
Who's in: Jason Peters, LT
Outlook: The trade for Peters jump-started the offseason. Yes, he gave up too many sacks last season in Buffalo, but he'll bounce back this season.
He finally feels appreciated, and I think he'll turn into one of the best in the league. You also have to remember the loss of Brian Dawkins. But Quintin Mikell is a pretty solid replacement. You get younger, although Dawkins' influence in the locker room will be missed.
Peters should make the Eagles a better running team -- immediately. Now, we just need to see how Brian Westbrook bounces back from a couple of offseason surgeries.
Who's out: Jon Jansen, RT, cut and signed with Lions
Who's in: Stephon Heyer, RT
Outlook: The Redskins didn't really have any major losses, although Shawn Springs was a very solid presence in the locker room.
Springs was still talented, but he couldn't stay on the field because of injuries. Jansen gave the Redskins almost a decade of service, but he had no business starting this season.
Right tackle is Heyer's job to lose, and I think he'll nail it down in training camp. It's still a potential soft spot for this offense, though. Heyer has excellent size and pretty good feet for a big guy. But I'm not convinced he's the long-term answer.
|Hunter Martin/Getty Images|
|New additions Jason Peters, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy should be a boon for the Eagles' offense this season.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Let's face it. The offseason Lombardi Trophy has to come out of the NFC East. The division may have let a Super Bowl appearance slip through its fingers last season, but the NFC Beast has a stranglehold on the months of March and April.
And of all the blockbuster moves -- Terrell Owens' release, the signing of Albert Haynesworth, Plaxico Burress' final act -- the Eagles may have come out on top. Of course, they started free agency with a whimper by signing a lesser-known Andrews brother (Stacy) and a Browns castoff (Sean Jones). Things were going so slowly that Donovan McNabb reportedly told management he needed to see more before considering a contract extension with the club.
But all at once, things started to change. Armed with two first-round draft picks, the Eagles used one to rescue one of the top left tackles in the league, Jason Peters, from football Siberia (the Buffalo/Toronto franchise). With that one move, some of the sting from Brian Dawkins' departure seemed to go away. Tra Thomas had done an admirable job protecting McNabb's blindside for years, but he was a mediocre run-blocker who was in his mid-30s. Peters, a former tight end at Arkansas, is a 27-year-old mauler from Queen City, Texas. He was disgruntled in Buffalo because of his contract situation, so the Eagles gave up their late first-round pick and sent over the Brinks truck.
|Hunter Martin/Getty Images|
|The Eagles brought in Stacy Andrews (76), formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, to bolster their offensive line.|
They followed that up by trading up two spots to steal Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had fallen out of the top 10, in part, because Al Davis remains the owner of the Raiders. It was a coup for the Eagles, and they scored again by selecting Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy in the second round. Though you hate to say it in polite company, Brian Westbrook isn't durable enough to be an every-down back. Never has been, although the Eagles have tried. Draft busts such as Ryan Moats and Tony Hunt put the Eagles in the spot of desperately needing to hit on a suitable backup for Westbrook. In McCoy, the Eagles have an instinctive player who should flourish behind the club's zone-blocking scheme.
Eagles coach Andy Reid is a prideful man who rarely covets another man's players. In fact, he described a scenario during the recent NFL owners' meeting where the Eagles could simply move guards Shawn Andrews and Todd Herremans around and stay with the status quo. And he didn't really see the need for more firepower at receiver, which sort of threw a wet blanket on our breathless pursuit of the Anquan Boldin/Braylon Edwards story line.
But in the end, the Eagles actually looked in the mirror and saw an accurate reflection. They may have been one of the hottest teams in the league in December and January, but there were still deficiencies. Namely, the Eagles' offense has a tendency to freak out in short-yardage situations -- especially in the red zone. The additions of Peters, McCoy and the elder Andrews brother should help significantly in that regard.
Reid would provide a more scientific explanation, but the bottom line is the Eagles couldn't move anyone off the line in those short-yardage situations. That led to Reid and his trusty assistant, Marty Mornhinweg, coming up with curious plays around the goal line instead of banging the ball in the end zone with quarterback sneaks.
Regarding the Maclin pick, some have worried that he's too similar to second-year wideout DeSean Jackson. Maclin is at least two inches taller than Jackson -- and a little thicker. And the most important similarity they have is speed. I caught up with Maclin via phone Thursday just before he ducked into a receivers meeting and asked what made him different from Jackson.
"We're completely different," he said, with a hint of indignation. "I'm bigger. I'm considered a big receiver at 6-feet. But we both know how to stretch the field."
Neither guy is a possession-type receiver, but that's why you have players such as Jason Avant around. Maclin and Jackson are both home run receivers -- and that makes life tough on a defensive coordinator. If you try to take Jackson out, you're leaving Maclin in one-on-one coverage. If you try to keep everything in front of you by playing coverage, then Westbrook and McCoy can hurt you.
If there's a negative about Maclin, it's that he played in a spread offense in college. I think that's a crock, but you'll hear a lot of scouts bring it up. Players out of Big 12 schools such as Texas Tech and Missouri were not asked to run pro-style routes. But all this talk about not knowing the full "route tree" sounds like a lot of NFL savants who are intoxicated with their own coachspeak. To paraphrase something Texas Tech's Mike Leach once said about quarterbacks, a good coach should be able to teach a 4.4 receiver with excellent hands how to get in and out of a "pro-style" route. It's not as if Missouri was letting Maclin and quarterback Chase Daniel draw up plays in the dirt. Well, at least not on first down.
"We ran a lot of no-huddle [at Missouri]," Maclin said. "There were a lot of 10-yard and 12-yard routes. And we had options on those routes. I would say that we used a lot more concepts than plays in college. It's obviously more complex here, but fortunately I pick things up pretty quickly."
Growing up in the St. Louis area, Maclin fell in love with wide receiver Torry Holt and the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf." Even at a young age, he studied the way Holt ran his routes and attempted to apply it to his game. And at Missouri, Maclin said he watched film of the Colts to get a feel for what the NFL would be like.
Maclin hasn't decided whether he'll join McNabb in Arizona this summer for some side work, although it doesn't seem like a bad idea.
"I haven't figured that out yet," Maclin said. "I've got to speak with Donovan."
That sounds like a conversation he shouldn't put off for long.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I was in the middle of eating beer-battered biscuits at one of my favorite breakfast spots in Dallas (Barbec's) this morning when former Eagles right tackle Jon Runyan's name popped up on caller ID. He's always been a fun guy to cover because of his brutal honesty and wry sense of humor.
Runyan reminded me that it will be two months since he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee this Thursday. He's getting a kick out of reading reports that he might retire because that's the last thing on his mind.
"I'm playing next season," he said. "I just don't know where it will be. But I'll be with somebody."
Runyan said the Eagles (and other teams around the league) are taking a "wait-and-see approach" with him. He will take another trip to Birmingham, Ala., in six weeks to visit with famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews and see how his knee is responding. Dr. Andrews said the recovery would take 4-6 months, so Runyan anticipates being ready for training camp in late July.
And it wouldn't be wise to count him out. His 192 consecutive games played is third among current players and Eagles fans won't forget that Runyan played most of the 2007 season with a broken tailbone. He hasn't had any dialogue with the Eagles, but his close relationship with Andy Reid will at least keep him in the conversation. He called the departures of Brian Dawkins and Tra Thomas "unfortunate," but he didn't necessarily hold management responsible for what happened.
When I asked him about Donovan McNabb's offseason drama, he was pretty blunt.
"I've always thought if players sign a contract, they should go ahead and honor it," he said.
I'll stay in touch with Runyan throughout the offseason and try to bring you periodic updates on his rehabilitation. OK, go about your Saturday in peace.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Randy Galloway says the Cowboys and Bills have more in common than one might think: "The case could be made that the current Cowboys have more football talent than the Bills, who have now welcomed the Dearly Departed One," writes Galloway. "But in the big picture, the Cowboys are really no different from the Bills when it comes to ongoing futility, and, yes, desperation. That's scary, but also factual. Jerry Jones, the architect of our local disaster, previously thought the DDO [Terrell Owens] could help push the Cowboys past the point of desperation. Didn't happen, for whatever reason. So now the DDO has moved along to another desperate football situation."
- Jen Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks about the post-T.O. era. In fact, she seeks advice from folks in Philly: "Do not make this all about QB Tony Romo, or any more than everybody already thinks banishing T.O. from Valley Ranch and exiling him to Buffalo was all about him," writes Engel. "This includes and starts with you, Jerry. All of this talk of an organizational desire to become 'Romo-friendly' has heaped even more pressure on Romo than what already exists (which is plenty) and this T.O.-vs.-him drama is exactly what has dogged Donovan McNabb in Philly. Talking to a few media friends on WIP this week, I noted that McNabb seemed to take a while to recover from his T.O. experience."
"'He's still answering questions' was the answer."
- Andrea Ahles of the Star-Telegram says the minority companies hired as management partners on the Cowboys $1.1 billion stadium aren't thrilled with how things turned out.
- Les Bowen of the Daily News spent two days chasing Brian Westbrook around at a charity event.
- Bob Brookover from the Inquirer reports that the Eagles have broken off talks with unrestricted free-agent fullback Leonard Weaver.
- Former Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas thinks the Philly coaches could stand to be more passionate: "I think it would make the team a lot better, if they were that type of coaches. It would definitely change the atmosphere of the team. You look at other coaches, who seem like they really get into the players' place. I look at the coach from Pittsburgh [Mike Tomlin], he seems like he's a real passionate coach. He's really into his players, joking around with them. I think he's a great motivator, also. Other coaches around the league, I've seen them get passionate. Philly is just a little different. It's more businesslike, you know? Like, 'I expect you to do it, and that's it.'"
- Reuben Frank makes a passionate defense of Andy Reid.
- Nice story by Newsday's Tom Rock regarding Danny Clark's trip to Kuwait.
- Phil Mushnick of the New York Post thinks Roger Goodell is sticking it to the fans on PSLs.
- Ralph Vacchiano says the Giants' offseason workout program kicks off today. Plaxico Burress isn't expected to attend.
- Former Giant Dhani Jones has a TV show.
- Jim Zorn doesn't want you to focus on sacks or tackles too much when it comes to Albert Haynesworth.
- The Redskins still have a few holes to fill.
- The new executive director of the NFLPA is a Redskins fan.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Excellent column in the Philly Daily News today by Rich Hofmann about the impact that offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan made on the franchise. Hofmann hops in his way-back machine and compares Runyan-Thomas to former Eagles tackles Jerry Sisemore and Stan Walters.
"One hundred thirty-four regular-season games. One hundred thirty-four," writes Hofmann. "It is an absurd number that doesn't even count the preseason or the postseason. It defies logic. It mocks the physicality of professional football. Now that Thomas is leaving the Eagles for Jacksonville, and Runyan is unsigned and recuperating from knee surgery, the outrageous run of games for these two offensive tackles is over. The phrase "end of an era," however facile and cliched, seems to fit."
It seems like Eagles fans have shed most of their tears for the departing Brian Dawkins, but you can't overestimate the importance of Dawkins and Thomas. Since 2000 (Andy Reid's second year), the Eagles have never had to worry about the men most responsible for protecting Donovan McNabb. Who knows what Reid will do to replace Thomas? He may move Shawn Andrews out there or the Eagles may draft a left tackle. But Thomas and Runyan will be missed -- perhaps more than Dawkins in some ways.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Donovan McNabb has finally updated his blog. Just when I was about to take him out of my "favorites," he decided to release a statement regarding the departures of longtime teammates Brian Dawkins and Tra Thomas.
"I usually don't remark about teammates unless asked but I felt it was necessary to share my thoughts on a couple of teammates that are no longer in Philadelphia," writes McNabb. "I have been a part of the Philadelphia Eagles for 10 years and I have not played a game, attended a practice, sweated in training camp, built a playground or participated in a Carnival, and more importantly dreamed of a championship parade, without Brian Dawkins and Tra Thomas being a part of it. We all had a goal of bringing a championship to this city and while we didn't achieve that goal, we have had a lot of successes during our time together.
"I was always confident that Tra had my blindside. When he was out there it was one less thing to worry about. As for Brian, mere words cannot explain what he has meant to me, our team, and the City of Philadelphia. He and I shared many things besides a locker room. We shared a passion for the game, a desire to make a difference, and dreams for better things.
"There may be other men to come in here and play these positions and hopefully we can share successes. I will always regret not having the chance to win a championship with these guys. It is important to note that I also will miss playing with a few other guys as well. Correll Buckhlater, Lito Sheppard, Greg Lewis, and Sean Considine will all be missed and I do wish them all success."
McNabb will now return to hibernation -- and dream of the weapons that will surround him this fall. Thanks for your continued support.
Looking forward to seeing you in the SportsNation chat room at noon ET today. We can talk free agency, T.O., Tra Thomas or whatever else is on your mind. Last week, we had more than 700 people waiting in line at the conclusion of the chat. So get there early.
Here's how the Philadelphia Eagles responded to left tackle Tra Thomas signing a three-year deal with the Jaguars. The Eagles are getting a lot of practice at this sort of thing:
"On behalf of the entire Eagles organization, I want to thank Tra Thomas for a fantastic 11-year run in Philadelphia," said Eagles president Joe Banner. "It's not often that offensive lineman get much praise and attention for their hard work, leadership and Pro Bowl play. But Tra deserves every ounce of it, and I know that our fans feel equally appreciative for everything he has done for this organization and the Philadelphia community. We will miss him and wish him all the best as he continues his career with the Jaguars.
Added head coach Andy Reid: "Tra has helped this organization win a lot of football games from a very important position on the football field. During his 11 years in this city, he's been nothing but a true professional and leader, both on and off the field. Most importantly, he's a proven winner in the National Football League and will go down as one of the finest offensive tackles in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. We wish he and his family all of the best in Jacksonville."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Former Eagles Pro Bowl left tackle Tra Thomas has agreed to a three-year deal with the Jaguars, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton. Thomas went to four Pro Bowls with the Eagles and was a staple on the left side since the club took him in the first round of the '98 draft.
He wanted to stay in Philly, but the team didn't show a strong interest in re-signing him. The Eagles have shown once again that sentimentality doesn't mean much to them in terms of signing players. They didn't put up much of a fight (if any) to keep local hero Brian Dawkins and they weren't interested in paying an aging player to play left tackle.
So where does this leave Philly? Well, Andy Reid loves to talk about how he can turn guards into tackles. There's a chance the Eagles could move Shawn Andrews to left tackle and play his brother Stacy at right tackle, where Jon Runyan has played for years. I think that move could backfire. Shawn is trying to return after dealing with clinical depression and then a back injury last season. Is this really the best time to put him at the most important spot on the offensive line?
The Eagles have the Nos. 21 and 28 picks in next month's draft. You have to think they'll be thinking offensive line on at least one of those choices. But no matter what happens, the Jags ended up with a quality player. The only problem I could foresee is Thomas' adjustment to a more run-based offense. He's been used to playing in an offense that passes the ball about 65 percent of the time. At this point in his career, he's not an elite run blocker. And the Jags love to run the ball.