Is There Room For Stallworth and Brown?

Reggie Brown is locked up and Donte Stallworth is in the final year of his contract. So, is Brown destined to take over or will Stallworth also remain an Eagle for the long-term?

Last week, the Eagles signed Reggie Brown to a five-year extension that included $10 million in guaranteed money. Meanwhile, fellow receiver Donte Stallworth is in the final year of his deal, but the Eagles are taking a wait-and-see attitude with respect to re-signing him.

The Eagles admit that they've liked what they've seen from Stallworth and they're pleased with his work ethic and attitude. But they want to see if he can stay healthy for a while before they think about committing a lot of money to him.

While there were some that thought Brown's deal could cause some controversy, Stallworth has taken it in stride. Rather than thinking about his next deal, Stallworth is focused in another direction. "That's [a contract extension] not on my mind at all," he said. "Any time I spend thinking about my contract is time I should be spending thinking about the next game."

It really does come down to what the Eagles see from Stallworth between now and the end of the season. If he's healthy and produces, they could consider locking him up before he enters free agency, giving themselves a nice duo of key receivers for Donovan McNabb to throw to.

The healthy part is the big question, since Stallworth has spent much of this season battling a hamstring injury. But when he's been healthy, the 26-year-old wide receiver has been extremely productive.

Stallworth missed four of the Eagles' first nine games and made an early exit in a fifth because of the hamstring problem. In the three games he's been healthy, including last week's 27-3 win over the Washington Redskins, he had 17 receptions for 361 yards and three touchdowns.

Against the Redskins, Stallworth caught six passes for 139 yards, including an 84-yard first-quarter touchdown that kick-started the Eagles' offense. It was his second 100-yard receiving performance of the season. He had a six-catch, 141-yard effort in his first game as an Eagle in Week One against Houston, just two weeks after the Eagles acquired him in a trade with New Orleans.

"It feels good to be able to get out there and contribute again," Stallworth said after the win over Washington. "It was very frustrating not being able to get out there and do what they brought me here to do."

"I'm here to make plays and I feel like I have to make them when the opportunity is there for us to be successful. That's why I'm here."

The Eagles traded for Stallworth in August when it became clear they needed more speed at the wide receiver position. They had counted on Todd Pinkston to return from a torn Achilles tendon that kept him on the sideline all of last season. But Pinkston's foot problems lingered into the preseason and he was eventually cut.

Stallworth caught 70 passes and had seven touchdowns last season for the Saints. But new coach Sean Payton had little patience for Stallworth's injury problems, which included a slow off-season recuperation from shoulder surgery and a training camp groin injury. He was eventually shipped to the Eagles for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional fourth-round pick that will become a third if Stallworth re-signs with the Eagles after the season.

The Eagles are first in the league in total offense, third in passing yards and fifth in scoring with their current tandem. Stallworth is averaging 21.1 yards per catch on 21 receptions. Brown is averaging 19.3 on 28.

"It's good to get him back in there," coach Andy Reid said of Stallworth. "He's an explosive player and he has good speed and strength. And he's a smart kid, so that's a good combination."

The 5-4 Eagles, who will face 2-7 Tennessee Sunday, need Stallworth to stay healthy and be productive if they are going to successfully navigate their way through a difficult second-half of the season and make the playoffs.

After the Titans, the Eagles face unbeaten Indianapolis on the road, return home to play Carolina, go back on the road for three straight weeks against the rest of the NFC East and finish at home against Atlanta.


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