The Philadelphia Eagles have traded OLB Chris
Gocong and CB Sheldon Brown to the Cleveland Browns for OLB Alex
Hall and fourth (105th overall) and fifth-round draft choices (137th
overall) in the 2010 draft.
"In Sheldon and Chris we were able to acquire two players, not just whom I am very familiar with, but who also will be great additions to our team," said Browns general manager Tom Heckert. "They both bring a tremendous amount of leadership from a winning organization, and will make us better and deeper on defense."
"Sheldon Brown has been a very good football player for the Eagles over the last eight years," said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. "He's a good person, a legitimate tough guy and he'll do a good job helping the Browns. Chris did a good job converting from defensive end to linebacker and helped us win a lot of football games. We wish both of them all of the best."
Sources told Scout.com that Gocong was on the trading block for most of the offseason. However, no other teams were willing to offer much in return for Gocong except for the Browns.
Hall, who was well thought of during former head coach Romeo Crennel's tenure with the Browns, has a chance to play right away with the Eagles.
"Sheldon and Chris have been nothing but professionals on and off the field during their tenure in Philadelphia and we wish them all the best as they continue their careers in Cleveland. Alex Hall is a big, athletic linebacker who we've had our eyes on over the last couple of years and he'll have a chance to compete at the SAM linebacker spot," general manager Howie Roseman said. Roseman added that Hall could get a chance to play with his hand down at defensive end on third downs and passing situations.
The 6-5, 250-pound Hall played in 30 games (2 starts) for the Cleveland Browns and recorded 30 tackles and three sacks, while adding 18 stops on special teams. His sacks came in three consecutive games during the early portion of his rookie campaign of 2008. Hall was a 7th-round draft choice of the Browns.
A native of Springdale, MD, Hall finished as the all-time leader in sacks at St. Augustine's College with 26. He also posted 156 total tackles, including 51 for a loss, four fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.
Hall has much better quickness than Gocong, but it remains to be seen how well he can make the conversion from playing in a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3. Hall is signed through 2011. He played in just short of five percent of the defensive snaps last season for the Browns, according to a league source. He played in just shy of 28 percent of the defensive snaps in 2008.
Currently, second-year pro Moises Fokou is penciled in as the starter at SLB for the Eagles.
The 26-year old Gocong was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the third round (71st overall) of the 2006 draft. He has appeared in 47 games with 35 starts after spending his entire rookie season on injured reserve. He has registered 183 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and recovered one fumble, while adding 39 tackles on special teams during his four-year NFL career.
The 6-2, 263-pound Gocong finished his career at Cal Poly SLO (2003-05) with 42 sacks in 41 games, while adding 206 tackles, one interception, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He led the nation in sacks during both his junior and senior seasons, recording 17.5 in 2004 and 23.5 in 2005. As a senior, he earned the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in Division I-AA. Born on November 16, 1983, Gocong attended Carpinteria High School in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Gocong will get a chance to play right away since the Browns are very light on depth at the outside linebacker position. The Browns surprisingly traded OLB Kamerion Wimbley last month leaving a huge void at OLB. The feeling is that Matt Roth, who graded out well last season for the Browns, will start at one outside spot.
Gocong lost his starting job last season to Fokou, who started the final three regular season games as well as their lone playoff game. Gocong's playing time was reduced from just over 48 percent of the defensive snaps in 2008 to just over 38 percent of the defensive snaps in 2009. However, Gocong may be much better off playing in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme where the OLBs are ask mostly to rush and rarely are asked to cover. Gocong was a key member of Philadelphia's special teams over the last two seasons and saw about 50 percent of the snaps.
"Chris is a player who has started a lot of games over the last three years. I really feel as though he fits better into our 3-4 scheme than what he did into a 4-3. I believe that this move will give him a chance to show off a lot of the skills that allowed him to record more than 40 sacks in college. He is smart and fast, and like Sheldon and all of the players we've acquired this offseason, possesses the qualities that the Browns are looking for," Heckert said.
Originally drafted by Philadelphia in the second round (59th overall) of the 2002 draft, Brown has registered 478 tackles, 19 interceptions, seven sacks, 98 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in his eight-year NFL career. In 2009, he started all 16 contests, posting 68 tackles, a career-high five interceptions, 17 passes defensed and one forced fumble.
A three-year starter at the University of South Carolina (1999-2001), Brown recorded 204 tackles and 10 interceptions during his collegiate career. As a senior, he earned All-Southeastern Conference honors and was a semi-finalist for the 2001 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's premier defensive back. Born on March 19, 1979, the 5-10, 200-pound Brown is a native of Fort Lawn, S.C.
Brown, 31, will provide Cleveland with tremendous leadership for their defense. He's durable (hasn't missed a game in his 8 seasons of play) and is expected to start opposite CB Eric Wright this season. However, sources said Brown didn't grade out as high by the coaches in 2009 as he did in previous seasons. That could be attributed to a lingering hamstring injury which he dealt with most of the second half of last season. Some personnel sources believe Brown may play free safety down the line.
"Sheldon has been a very good player for a long time and had one of the best seasons of his career last year with five interceptions. He stepped into the starting lineup by his third year and there were times when I felt he should have gone to the Pro Bowl. He is an extremely intelligent and physical player and his addition gives us a lot of flexibility in our secondary," Heckert added.
The veteran defensive back is signed through 2012. Sources said that the Eagles rebuffed all of Brown's requests for a renegotiated deal over the past few seasons, and it was only a matter of time before he was traded. His replacement is likely to come from this year's NFL Draft. CB Ellis Hobbs will get a chance to compete for the starting job, however. Scout.com talked to Hobbs recently about his recovery from last season's neck injury.
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