The subject of trade rumors the past several offseasons, defensive tackle Sam Rayburn is suddenly available on the open market after the Philadelphia Eagles released the four-year veteran Friday, making him able to sign with another team
Rayburn became the odd-man out on a crowded tackle depth chart and the move, which was not totally unexpected, came as the Eagles prepared to start a weekend minicamp.
Not many NFL teams enjoy the kind of surplus at tackle that the Eagles have, and Rayburn should merit solid interest as a free agent, given the difficulty most clubs experience in filling the position. It will not be surprising if Rayburn has multiple suitors.
Philadelphia plans to start a pair of former first-round choices, Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, at tackle in 2007. The Eagles signed unrestricted free agents Montae Reagor and Ian Scott this spring and the coaches are also high on second-year veteran LaJuan Ramsey, who reported to work this spring 20 pounds heavier than a year ago.
The Eagles traded starting tackle Darwin Walker to Buffalo in a deal that brought Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia, but still were overstocked at the position.
A former Tulsa standout, Rayburn, 26, earned a spot on the Eagles' roster as an undrafted college free agent in 2003. In four seasons, he notched 98 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, one recovery and one pass defensed in 52 games, including four starts.
His best season was in 2004, when Rayburn had 46 tackles and six sacks, despite playing mostly in a backup role.
Rayburn had five years remaining on his contract, at base salaries of $650,000 (2007), $700,000 (2008), $800,000 (2009), $850,000 (2010) and $950,000 (2011).
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.