Four-for-Four: Valentine’s Day Edition

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Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with head coach Chip Kelly late in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


With very little to grasp onto as far as hard-hitting news for the Eagles, much has been made about the future for some of the team’s veteran players. It may come as a bit of a shock when it does happen, but the Eagles will most likely be parting ways with a handful of familiar faces from this past year’s playoff team. With the way the NFL’s salary cap and contract structuring works, the teams that are able to maintain a flexible situation on a yearly basis are the same teams that realize when its time to part ways with a player.

One of the qualities of the early to mid-2000s Eagles teams was their penchant for cutting a player loose at the right time. They were not stung by allowing Jeremiah Trotter to walk after the 2001 season, and Trotter actually returned to the team later on in his career. Few criticized the team for letting Hugh Douglas become a free agent and taking a big contract with the Jaguars, as the pass-rusher’s best days were behind him. The team was even able to turn over almost their entire pro-bowl secondary in the matter of a couple of years through a combination of drafting well and getting out of unfavorable contracts.

One can only speculate as to the future of players like Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, and even Cary Williams. However, one name has started to surface as the most likely casualty from some of the aging Eagles players. Wide receiver Jason Avant has transformed himself from an unspectacular 4th round pick out of Michigan whose lack of speed would cost him in the NFL, to a fixture in Philadelphia and the Eagles most dependable receiver for the better part of his eight year career. Since he was drafted, Avant’s professionalism and penchant for spectacular catches has helped him carve out a nice niche while the team he plays for has undergone a substantial transformation

Avant totaled 38 receptions in 2013, his lowest output since 2008. In a breakdown penned by Jimmy Kempski of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Avant’s inability to make an impact after the catch came under the spotlight. While never mistaken for a burner or the type of physical specimen that could shake off tacklers, Avant’s ineffectiveness with the ball in his hands appears to be a legitimate cause of concern.

As important as Avant has been to this organization for his career, the Eagles must put an emphasis on making their offense as lethal a unit as possible. While being a slave to the statistics can set you up for disappointment (right Broncos fans?), the Eagles must get more out of the 3rd receiver position, a role increasing in importance around the league.

Officially, Avant has until March 15th before receiving a $1 million roster bonus from the Eagles. Given the fact that the league year starts just four days prior (March 11th), I would be very surprised if the organization did not take quick action in expunging Avant from the books and pocketing the $3.25 million in cap savings that comes along with the transaction. If Avant does end up getting shown the door, it will be almost impossible to replace the elation one feels when he made catches like this.


Never short on self-promotion or confidence, DeSean Jackson treated himself to a new addition to his impressive collection of tattoos with this latest masterpiece.

One can’t help but notice the ‘Angels’ logo right on the nape of Jackson’s neck. Unlike Domonic Brown of the Phillies, who was ridiculed for wearing a Cowboys jersey last season, DeSean’s promotion of another MLB team has met very little in the way of resistance. My guess? We all know DeSean well enough at this point that getting upset over something like this would fall on deaf ears. Let Jackson have his fun and the knowledge that the monstrosity he just had permanently attached to his back will be there 50 years from now.


Given his impact on the team and the city, it’s almost astonishing to consider the fact that Connor Barwin has not been a member of the Eagles for even a year. The outside linebacker, acquired via free agency last offseason, is quickly becoming the most likeable player on the team, off the field and on.

Barwin, whose similar exploits were well-documented in Houston, was brought in to help the team transition into the 3-4 hybrid defense employed by defensive coordinator Billy Davis. One could argue that, over the course of the 16-game campaign, Barwin was the team’s most consistently impactful player. Especially during the second half of the season, Barwin always seemed to come up with the type of ‘winning plays’ that typified the team’s defense as they marched toward the playoffs. By the end of the season, Barwin established himself as the top addition from the previous offseason’s free agent class and a gravitating presence in the media, locker room, and on the field.

As enjoyable as it was watching Barwin on the field this season, it is perhaps his off-the-field activity that makes him the type of player one is proud to support. In less than 12 months, Barwin has distinguished himself as a member of the Eagles who is: environmentally aware, engaged in social issues, tapped into the cities social scene, and a confident medium from a team that has been notorious for ‘foot-in-mouth’ moments the last few seasons.

Barwin first became a story early in the season when it came up that the linebacker, fresh off a 6-year/$36 million, rode the SEPTA bus to and from practices and games in Philadelphia. Given the fact that the NFL and its stars often opt for less ‘green’ automobile options, Barwin immediately endeared himself to some of the less football-interested crowd.

Especially in the last week, Barwin’s wherewithal regarding the world around him has been on full display. On the heels of NFL prospect Michael Sam admitting he was gay, days before the NFL combine, Barwin took to his Twitter account (@ConnorBarwin98), to lend his opinion.

Michael Sam could end up being one of the most important figures in sports history. The Eagles defender wasted no time releasing a simple, yet powerful tweet claiming his stance on the matter.

Peter King, editor of THEMMQB.SI.COM, teased an article in coalition with Barwin set to be released over the next couple of days. Given King’s lofty status in the NFL community, one cannot help but be excited for a piece that apparently sheds such positive light on a member of the Eagles.

Connor Barwin, you are the man.