Eagles hoping to land Wayne

Nate Wayne, released in a salary cap move by the Green Bay Packers on Monday, is visiting with the Philadelphia Eagles today. The Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars also have shown immediate interest in Wayne's services.<p>

By releasing Wayne, the Packers were able to avoid paying him a $750,000 bonus, which was due today. Wayne, who is entering his sixth season, was scheduled to make $2.25 million this season, so the move by the Packers and clears about $1.4 million of salary cap space.

The Packers approached Wayne about taking a pay cut for this season prior to the Feb. 28 free agency deadline. The Packers reportedly offered incentive clauses to make up the pay cut, but Wayne and his agent, Harold Lewis, felt they could do better on the free agent market. So Lewis asked for the Packers to release his client so he could seek a job with another team.

The Packers currently have one linebacker on the roster who started last year – Na'il Diggs. But Diggs is a restricted free agent and is reportedly drawing interest from the Eagles. Releasing Wayne may be an attempt by the Packers to offer Diggs or perhaps, restricted free agent defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a multiyear contract.

The Eagles are seeking a weakside linebacker and a middle linebacker. They let last season's weakside starter, Shawn Barber, escape to Kansas City, and they don't plan to re-sign last season's MLB tandem of Levon Kirkland and Barry Gardner. Last week, the Eagles signed Atlanta's Mark Simoneau, who has played both positions. Simoneau, like Wayne, is a bit undersized.

Wayne led the Packers with 132 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions last season as the weakside starter. He underwent knee surgery in January of 2002 but regained much of his speed and intensity. Still, he is undersized and is not considered overpowering, which might be part of the reason why the Packers were ranked 21st against the run last year.

Diggs, Torrance Marshall, Marcus Wilkins and Paris Lenon are currently the only linebackers on Green Bay's roster who were with the team last year. Marshall, thought to succeed the departed Hardy Nickerson at middle linebacker, was moved to the outside behind Wayne. Marshall and Wilkins, a second-year pro who made the team as an undrafted free agent last year, may be given a chance to start at weakside linebacker.

Wayne, 28, was a seventh-round Denver draft pick in 1998 who was traded to the Packers in 2000.

Like the Jaguars and Browns, the Packers also may pursue veteran free agent linebackers Rosevelt Colvin and Mike Peterson.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, an ex-Green Bay assistant, has signed a number of former Packers. Last year Reid signed wide receiver Antonio Freeman and running back Dorsey Levens. They joined Mike Bartrum, Sean Landeta and Jeff Thomason as Eagles who had played in Green Bay. The Eagles' biggest move so far this offseason? A trade with Green Bay, sending defensive back Al Harris and a fourth-round draft choice to the Pack for a second-rounder. And the Eagles' backup plan, should they lose defensive end Hugh Douglas to free agency, is said to be Gbaja-Biamila.

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