The agent for gold medal-winning sprinter Justin Gatlin said the Eagles have contacted him several times over the last three weeks to see if Gatlin would be interested in signing a free-agent contract with the team.
The 6-1, 170-pound Gatlin, who is co-owner of the world record in the 100-meter dash, hasn't played football since his sophomore year in high school. But the Eagles would like to give him a look-see as both a wide receiver and kickoff returner.
That doesn't seem likely, though. Renaldo Nehemiah, the former world-record-holding Olympic hurdler who represents Gatlin, said he has not returned calls or e-mails from the Eagles and has barely mentioned the team's inquiries to his client.
"Football isn't a necessity (for Gatlin)," said Nehemiah, who spent three seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (1982-84). "He's doing well enough. He doesn't need it."
Nehemiah could be trying to say Gatlin isn't interested or he could be trying to say the Eagles need to up the ante.
The Eagles finished 14th in the NFL last season in kickoff returns, averaging 22.2 yards per return. Rod Hood finished fifth in the NFC in kickoff returns with a 23.7-yard average. Hood, the team's nickel corner, seldom broke any longer returns. The Eagles had the fourth fewest 30-plus-yard kickoff returns in the league last year.
They also don't have a lot of speed in their wide receiving corps now that Terrell Owens is gone. Their fastest wideout is contact-shy Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
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