Monday, April 29, 2002
Eagles still searching for Buckhalter replacement
By Len Pasquarelli
Despite passing a physical examination and swapping old war stories with
coach Andy Reid from their days together in Green Bay, free-agent tailback Dorsey Levens left Philadelphia on Monday without a contract offer.
And without a hint of how he might fit into an Eagles tailback corps thinned
by the season-ending knee injury that second-year pro Correll Buckhalter
sustained in a minicamp practice last week.
"It never got down to anything serious, in terms of me signing here, or
anything like that," said Levens, an eight-year veteran who has spent his
entire career with the Packers. "We talked about what they wanted if they
bring somebody in, about the offense, really casual stuff. So we'll see
where it goes from here."
Where the Eagles' search for a replacement to Buckhalter goes next is in the
direction of Ki-Jana Carter, an unrestricted free agent who was with the
Washington Redskins in 2001. The first overall selection in the 1995 draft,
Carter will visit Eagles officials later this week.
Philadelphia has demonstrated no sense of urgency yet in trying to find a
No. 2 tailback to serve behind starter Duce Staley and the team might well
take its time before deciding on one. The Eagles have more than $9 million in cap
room and might wait until after June 1, when other clubs release a few
veterans for salary reasons, to assess the candidates.
To this point, Reid hasn't even conceded he will need to sign a veteran
tailback, although the Eagles almost certainly will add one before camp
begins in July. There are a number of experienced tailbacks remaining in the
unrestricted pool and the auditions may not end with just Levens and Carter.
A team official allowed Monday night that the Eagles aren't certain yet how
they will replace Buckhalter.
One unrestricted free agent not expected to be considered by the Eagles is
Given his familiarity with Reid and the West Coast-style offense that the
Eagles utilize, Levens would seem a good fit. But he turns 32 next month and
his recent injury history could be a deterrent.
Philadelphia currently has three tailbacks besides Staley: return man and
13-year veteran Brian Mitchell, former XFL star Rod Smart and 2002
third-round draft choice Brian Westbrook. Reid publicly
spoke of his confidence in those players last week, when the injury to
Buckhalter was confirmed as a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but the
likelihood of one of them stepping into the backup spot is slim.
Levens has garnered interest from other teams as well, and the Packers would
like to re-sign him, but he acknowledged he is impressed with the Eagles and
their status as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
"I'm willing to be as role player at this point in my career," Levens said.
"And I would prefer it be with a team that really has a chance to do
something special. I'm very interested in Philadelphia but it's not my call
on that decision. I'll just be patient and see what happens."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.