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Gocong, Hobbs Sign Tenders, Raiders Deny Reports, etc...

Gocong, Hobbs Sign One-Year Deals and Other News
By Lance Epstein

On Tuesday both cornerback Ellis Hobbs and outside linebacker Chris Gocong each signed their one-year tendered contracts according to team officials. Both players were restricted free agents this off-season and were not expected to draw much interest from other teams due to their high tenders.

Last year, Philadelphia acquired Hobbs on draft-day from the New England Patriots in exchange for the Eagles' fifth rounder draft pick. Before, Hobbs went down with a season ending neck injury against Dallas in November, he was the Eagles fourth cornerback and a kick-off return specialist.

Hobbs averaged 24.1 yards per kick-off, which provided the Eagles decent starting field position. Additionally, Hobbs has three kickoff returns that have gone for touchdowns and a NFL record 108-yard touchdown return. His return makes the kickoff return game very dangerous. Considering when Hobbs on IR, the Eagles kickoff return game struggled mightily as Macho Harris and Jeremy Maclin were both in effective.

More importantly, the signing of Hobbs means that the Eagles have quality depth at cornerback, which they lacked last year. Joselio Hanson's four-game suspension and Hobb's injury, the Eagles were forced to use undrafted free agent, Dimitiri Patterson as the nickel and dime corner. Hobbs brings 49 career starts, nine interceptions and 2.5 sacks.

At the start of the season, Gocong was the starting strong-side linebacker, but rookie (seventh rounder) Moise Fokou replaced him down the stretch. While Gocong struggles in pass coverage, he is outstanding against the run. Also, he showed last year that he is versatile enough to play both SAM linebacker and the middle linebacker position. In 35 career starts (47 games) he has recorded 203 tackles, 4 sacks, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.

The problem with Gocong is that he is not suited for a 4-3 defense. His skill-set fits a 3-4 defense where he can rush the passer. At Cal Poly, he was a defensive end that used his speed to get to quarterback and allowed him to register 42 sacks in his college career.

Now that Gocong has signed the offer-sheet, the Eagles could look to unload him to a team that plays a 3-4 defense. Scouts.com's Adam Caplan reported yesterday as a guest on Eagles Live! (show on Philadelphiaeagles.com) that he could be moved and at the owner's meetings he got the feeling that if he was traded he would probably be moved to a team that plays a 3-4. Some of those teams included the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, San Francisco and the Miami Dolphins.

However, do not expect to get a whole lot for Gocong. The Eagles would at most receive a fourth round pick but would most likely have to settle for a fifth and may be even a sixth rounder. Also, do not be surprised if the Eagles look to draft a middle linebacker (then they can move Bradley back to his natural SLB position) or strong-side linebacker early in the draft to give Fokou some competition.

With Hobbs and Gocong signing their tenders, this leaves the Eagles with linebacker Omar Gaither (fifth round), Nick Cole (second round), Sav Rocca (right of refusal) and Max Jean-Giles (fourth round) still to sign. The Eagles have until April 15 to get these four players signed under contract.

Raiders Deny McNabb Rumors

The San Jose Mercury News reported today that Raiders' sources have denied an offer for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"Two Raiders employees remain steadfast that the Raiders haven't spoken with the Eagles about McNabb, who is in the final year of his contract," the Newspaper reported.

Furthermore, the Raiders' shot down any trade idea that would include star cornerback Nmandi Asomugha by saying he isn't available for trade.

This seems kind of odd considering that ESPN's Adam Schefter, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora and Yahoo sports' Craig Robinson have anointed the Raiders as the front-runner for McNabb's services.

Although do not be surprised if Al Davis pulls the trigger on a deal anyway. Considering he has been known to not inform his representatives about potential moves or the move itself. Just go back a few short weeks ago when the Raiders picked up Kamerion Wimbley. No one in the Raiders organization besides Davis knew they were even talking to the Browns, but they wound up trading a third rounder for him according to Caplan.

Currently, I still believe that the Raiders are the front-runners in the McNabb sweepstakes. Although I do believe they do not want to part with Asomugha, who if trade would significantly hurt their defense.

Four Veterans Not at Camp

Yesterday the Eagles had an optional off-season conditioning program where four veterans did not show up.

According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, McNabb was one of the four veterans who stayed at home. Do need read too much into this because the Eagles have let him workout at his home in Arizona for the last couple of seasons.

The other veterans were Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Sav Rocca. It is interesting that Samuel did not attend the camp. When reports surfaced that Samuel might be included in part of the McNabb package to Oakland, I said there might be something going on behind the scenes with Samuel (much like Lito that they kept under-wraps for a while).

At the end of the year, Samuel stopped listening to defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Also, Samuel's lacked the effort to make a tackle on screen passes or bubble passes to the wide receivers, which killed the Eagles.

May be Reid is tired of his Pro Bowl cornerback not willing to be physical. While Samuel has a knack for the interception, he also has a knack for missing tackles and gambling too much.

As for Brown, sources close to the situation say he did not read too much into what head coach Andy Reid said about listening to offers for him at the owner's meetings. Unless the Eagles get a second round pick or perhaps a third, do not expect Brown to be traded. They currently do not have his replacement on the roster, but I suspect they will take a corner in the first round to be groomed as his eventual replacement.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see the Eagles finally have enough linebackers for a single rotation now