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Old 03-09-2008, 11:46 PM  
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Lito Sheppard anyone?

I hear he's had knee problems. But he's always been good when healthy. Is he worth the risk?


Posted on Sun, Mar. 9, 2008

On the NFL: Free agency poses challenges for Eagles

The text message came across just after noon Wednesday. "I am doing great," Lito Sheppard said. "Thanks for being concern [sic]."
It's been more than a week since the Eagles signed Asante Samuel to the most lucrative deal for a defensive player in team history and Andy Reid declared that Samuel will be the Eagles' starting left cornerback. It's no secret that the Eagles have been fielding offers for Sheppard, their former starting left corner, and a trade could be imminent.

For his part, Sheppard has stayed underground, not commenting one way or the other about the addition of Samuel or the ramifications. Aside from his brief text, he refused to talk for this story. But a team source said last week that Sheppard, who signed a five-year extension in 2004, isn't happy with the developments at cornerback, even though Reid said Friday that Sheppard can play either cornerback position.

Upsetting veterans on the team by bringing in new players at higher salaries is a peril of free agency. Past performers almost always feel they are worth more money. Feelings are bound to get hurt. The trick is keeping chemistry intact.

"The players on our team know that we just don't go out and kill [team chemistry] in free agency," Reid said Friday. "That hasn't been our way. We try to [strengthen the roster] through the draft.

"But they also know that if you do have a free agent that you want to go after that's a great player or in that supposed great-player category, that you're going to have to pay him. That's the way it is. If you did your contract two years ago and he did his contract today, then it's going to be a little bit more. That's how it works. . . . So people can't be sensitive on that or you have to eliminate free agency.

"I think the players understand that. At least I think the players on our team understand that. The players on the Patriots understand that. Teams understand that. It's hard. It's a hard thing, but it's a part of the game right now that you have to face."

In 2004, Sheppard signed an extension through 2011 that reportedly included an $8.7 million signing bonus and $22 million in base salary. A few days later, Sheppard's teammate on the right side, Sheldon Brown, signed a six-year extension that reportedly included a $7.5 million signing bonus and $24 million in base salary.

Samuel, an all-pro and Pro Bowl selection who has two Super Bowl rings, was the hottest commodity - Randy Moss notwithstanding - on the free-agent market. He will make $32.14 million in the first three years of his deal with the team. That figure is more than $8 million more than defensive end Jevon Kearse made in his first three seasons with the Eagles.

Samuel's deal is worth $57.14 million.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:48 PM   #2
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