Should He Stay or Should He Go? Juqua Thomas

Juqua Thomas seemed to flex his muscles a little in the second half of the season, perhaps to show off what he may be able to bring to a team that gives him the nicest possible contract this off-season. So, just where will that land Thomas?

With the Eagles needing everything they could get out of their defense in the second-half of the season, Juqua Thomas was one of the players that stepped up their game. In fact, the 28 year old defensive end may have been the fiercest pass rusher that the Eagles were able to put on the field late in the season.

With Jevon Kearse out of action, the Eagles knew that their pass rush was dealt a huge blow. Thomas finished the year with a career-high six sacks including two in one game against Michael Vick and the Falcons. It was the first time in his career that he recorded more than one sack in a game. He also recorded his first career playoff sack in the Eagles' win over the Giants.

So, with Kearse coming off another injury, why wouldn't the Eagles be checking their bank account to find a way to keep Thomas? Odds are that they are, but Thomas could draw the interest from teams that play a 3-4 style of defense and might want to put him at the linebacker spot in their scheme. It would be a new opportunity for Thomas who is looking for a chance to start even though he's played in all 32 games he's suited up for as an Eagle after signing as a free agent prior to the 2005 season. The Eagles already have Kearse and Darren Howard soaking up a nice chunk of change and Trent Cole waiting in the wings, meaning that Thomas may be a casualty of a numbers and money game in Philadelphia.

The bottom line: Thomas has great timing, since the free agent market is thin. There are likely to be teams that will consider him for their pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and a few others that will want to leave him right where he is on the defensive line. The company line is that Kearse is going to be fine for the start of next season and will reclaim his starting spot with Howard on the other end of the line and Trent Cole filling in where needed. The Birds can likely find cheaper back-up help elsewhere considering the type of money that Thomas might command. We may have seen the last of Juqua Thomas in Philadelphia and let's hope that he moves out of the NFC East if that happens.


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