Should He Stay or Should He Go? Buckhalter

Correll Buckhalter was healthy and it showed. That's exactly what the Eagles were looking for from Buckhalter this season after an injury plagued streak had slowed his career considerably. So, coming off a solid season, will he hit free agency and find work elsewhere or stick in Philly?

If Correll Buckhalter was going to have a shot at continuing his NFL career, let alone getting bigger bucks in free agency, he was going to have to put together a nice season in 2006. As it turns out, Buckhalter stayed healthy and contributed in nice ways to the Eagles success on offense, setting career highs in receptions (24) and receiving yards (256). Three of the last four seasons, Buckhalter had been a non-entity because of injuries, but showed himself to be healthy and able to contribute last season.

It was Buckhalter who contributed one of the big plays of the season when he pulled in a pass knocked out of the hands of Reggie Brown and turned it into a 55 yard touchdown against Washington last November. The play gave Buckhalter his first regular season touchdown since 2003.

Playing behind Brian Westbrook, Buckhalter is an interesting piece of the puzzle. Having his own injury issues, Westbrook also had a big 2006 season, but is still slightly fragile. In other words, the Eagles will need to have someone reliable to take some heat off of Westbrook and to pick up the pieces should another injury hit. When he's healthy, Buckhalter does exactly that.

It's not likely that other teams will view Buckhalter as the type of back that can carry a team's running game and the Eagles also don't view him that way. He's more of a relief pitcher type who can come in and give you a little something and then exit when the big guy is rested. Buckhalter has that combination of speed and power that teams like to find in a back. So while other teams may show an interest in Buckhalter, especially in a weak free agency period, nobody is going to be throwing a ton of money at him. The Eagles are high on Buckhalter and it's likely that they'll look to keep him and it's also likely that Buckhalter will look to stay with the club.

The bottom line: Buckhalter is likely to hit free agency and sniff around at other offers. In the end though, he'll wind up back in Philadelphia, figuring that he's in a situation that works for him. The Eagles have some young options in the backfield and could draft for some backup help, but quite frankly, they have bigger needs and if they're going to draft a running back, it's more likely to be someone that could step into Westbrook's shoes in a year or two. Look for Buckhalter to return to the Eagles in his familiar role.

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