Eagles Clearing 'To Do' List

The Philadelphia Eagles came into the off-season with a list of things to accomplish. Thanks to re-signing some of their own free agents and making a couple of other moves, they're narrowing down their list.

With 21 of 22 starters from last year's NFC East title team under contract, the Eagles have kept a low profile so far in the early days of the free agency signing period.

They re-signed four of their own unrestricted free agents - running back Correll Buckhalter, safety Quintin Mikell, defensive end Juqua Thomas and cornerback William James - and have added two players in wide receiver/kick returner Bethel Johnson and wide receiver Kevin Curtis. The additions at wideout helped greatly to relieve the loss of Donte Stallworth who signed with New England.

Stallworth was the only '06 starter not under contract and while the Eagles were interested in him, they eventually found other options and passed. The Eagles, like other teams, were concerned about Stallworth showing up on the list of players who were one step away from a suspension for substance abuse woes.

Even before the Eagles signed Curtis, general manager Tom Heckert has insisted his wide receiving corps would be fine without Stallworth. The addition of Curtis makes that corps even stronger and Johnson could help too.

Next on the list was running back and the Eagles looked around at the likes of Ron Dayne, but stayed in-house and re-signed Correll Buckhalter to serve as a backup Brian Westbrook. The Eagles also are in the market for a veteran linebacker who could possibly compete for a starting job or replace free agent Shawn Barber as the nickel linebacker.

Assuming they accomplish those things in free agency prior to the draft, their top priorities in the draft will be bolstering their secondary and possibly finding an eventual replacement for middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, whose knees have begun to betray him.

Safety is a concern. Free safety Brian Dawkins is 33 and the jury still is very much out on strong safety Sean Considine. Starting cornerback Sheldon Brown probably is better suited to be the team's nickel back, but the Eagles need to find another top cover guy, either as Brown's starting replacement or to compete with James for the nickel job.

While the local sports talk shows have been hammering them for sitting on their hands since the start of the free agent signing period, the Eagles insist they are pleased with the way the off-season is going.

After all, with 21 of their 22 starters from last season under contract for 2007, the Eagles didn't feel the need to be very active in free agency.

"We're happy with what we've done so far," general manager Tom Heckert said. "We wanted to lock up our own guys and we did that. We don't worry about outside perceptions."


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