Should He Stay or Should He Go? Shawn Barber

With Shawn Barber coming off injuries when the Eagles signed him to a one-year deal, they weren't sure exactly what to expect. What they got was everything that they could have hoped for as Barber became a key part of the Eagles nickel package and was the teams top coverage linebacker this past season.

Shawn Barber earned a lot of respect from his teammates in Philadelphia for how he handled himself both on the field and off. He became a key element of the Eagles defense and has put himself in a good spot to garner some interest heading into free agency.

While he did miss three games this season because of injuries, he seems to have put many of the concerns about his health behind him and can be counted on to be ready to go. That's something that Barber didn't have heading into last off-season since he had spent the final three games of the 2005 season on the inactive list and played in just three games that season. The difference will mean a more lucrative and longer deal for the 32 year old linebacker, but it won't be large enough to automatically price the Eagles out of the hunt to re-sign him.

If Barber were to exit, the Eagles would still have some decent options to take his place, but none have proven themselves the way Barber has. One thing that the Eagles have on their side is that Barber has said he feels at home in Philadelphia and enjoys being a part of the Eagles franchise. The downside is that his playing time isn't likely to increase with Jeremiah Trotter ahead of him and young linebackers ready to make their mark with the team. It's likely that the Eagles will release Dhani Jones in the near future and they may feel more comfortable making that move if Barber were to indicate a willingness to stay rather than test the free agent market.

The bottom line: It's not likely that Barber is going to have a pile of money thrown at him and at 32, he may not be the kind of player that teams are going to promise a lot of playing time to, especially because of his past injuries. The Eagles will have a better-than-average shot at re-signing Barber and it's likely that they'll look to bring him back for at least one more season and possibly two as a mentor to young players like Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong who are working their way up the depth chart. Look for Barber to be back in that familiar number 56 jersey come the 2007 season.

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