The Philadelphia Eagles traded Chris Gocong and Sheldon Brown to the Cleveland Browns for Alex Hall and fourth- and fifth-round draft picks in the upcoming draft. Let’s analyze this transaction from the Eagles’ point of view.
This deal further confirms a suspicion that I have had for some time. The Eagles are rebuilding. They are not rebuilding like the hapless Buccaneers or Rams are rebuilding, but this is very much a team in transition and by their lofty standards, they are rebuilding. Trading starting-caliber players for draft picks is a move that a team looking to dump salary and get younger makes, which is pretty consistent with how the Eagles have handled the entire offseason. Once Donovan McNabb is shipped out of Philadelphia and the keys to the Eagles’ extremely young offense are handed to Kevin Kolb, that transition will be further justified.
But Eagles fans, rebuilding is not a curse word. Sure, the Cowboys steamrolled the Eagles twice to finish the season, but this is still a very strong organization. In fact, this should be a very exciting time to be an Eagles fan because the organization can further build a terrific young nucleus that should keep them competitive for years to come. Remember, this is an excellent draft class.
Many probably consider Hall a throw-in. But he is a good special-teams player and has upside as an edge pass-rusher. Hall could be a valuable player for the Eagles as soon as next season.
Gocong did some good things with the Eagles, but fell out of favor last season and was actually benched at one point. A defensive end in college, Gocong fits in the Browns’ 3-4 defense better than in the Eagles’ defense. Gocong is much less of a liability in coverage than you would expect considering his background. He plays hard and is aggressive, but he also isn’t as dynamic as the Eagles would prefer from the outside linebacker position. I do contend that if Stewart Bradley had not been injured, the entire linebacking corps --including Gocong -- would have produced at a much higher level in 2009. Philadelphia now could use two starting outside linebackers to flank Bradley.
Brown is a solid starting cornerback and had very respectable season. He isn’t special, but he can play both the run and pass effectively. He also has a history of making plays and getting his hands on the football. Cleveland should be very happy to have him. The Eagles’ pass coverage was a huge problem in 2009, so changes are understandable. But this creates a major need at cornerback.
Needless to say, this month’s draft is huge for the future of this organization -- and more high picks should be on the way with a trade of McNabb. But overall, this deal with Cleveland implies that a rebuilding project is under way in Philadelphia.