BANNER's double-talk taints Dawkins
Eagles president Joe Banner said Wednesday he made veteran safety Brian Dawkins “a good, fair, strong” contract offer to stick around for a couple of years.
But Banner was more ambiguous and political than clear and straightforward in attempting to explain why Dawkins signed last weekend with the Denver Broncos during an interview on WIP Radio.
“Brian was not satisfied with it,” Banner said of the Eagles’ proposal. “We really didn’t fully realize that at first because there was a limited amount of communication. Brian had instructed his agent to see what else was out there and he did that and indicated that Brian was going to take a trip to Denver. And that was the last conversation we had. We found out Brian was doing a deal in Denver the same time everybody else did and we didn’t know what the deal was.”
Dawkins told 950 ESPN Radio that his agent, Jim Steiner, didn’t bounce the deal off the Eagles to see if they would sweeten the pot, intimating that the club had put its best foot forward.
Banner said he wished he had been able to speak personally with Dawkins or his agent one last time.
Moments later Banner said another conversation probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
“Listen, to be honest and really fair and objective about this they were under the impression they had our best offer,” Banner said of Dawkins and his agent. “It’s not unusual, though, even in that instance just to make absolutely certain to have an agent check one last time.”
It was that type of interview. And there won’t be any more clarity for a while because a spokesman indicated Banner is unwilling to address questions from the mainstream media.
Dawkins signed a five-year $17 million contract with the Denver Broncos last weekend. For all practical purposes, the contract is for two years and $9 million, with $7.2 million guaranteed. It voids after the second year.
The Eagles essentially offered two one-year contracts with just $2.5 million guaranteed according to ESPN 950\'s Brian Seltzer.
While Banner insisted the Eagles “tried” to keep Dawkins, listeners had to be scratching their heads when he spoke about the player’s decision to test free agency.
“We can’t control that he decided to explore what else was out there,” Banner said.
If Banner really wanted to keep Dawkins, however, he could have tied him up with he one-year $6.34 million franchise tag or one-year $5.45 million transition tag. The Eagles didn’t tag anyone.
Banner touched on other subjects as well. He disputed the Eagles had $40 million of salary cap space, explaining it was more like $25 million.
Banner neither confirmed or denied reports he met with quarterback Donovan McNabb in the offseason or discussed a contract extension with him, as reports suggest.
But Banner clarified from his end what McNabb meant by adding more weaponry; i.e. weapons are not just wide receivers and running backs.
“When he uses ‘weapons’ he’s talking about difference-making quality players,” Banner said. “His definition of weapons - when and if he says that - is broader than that.”
Banner is certain that McNabb feels the addition of newly signed offensive lineman Stacy Andrews and the renewed health of his brother, guard Shawn Andrews, “are significant improvements.”
Additionally Banner thinks Brian Westbrook will be good to go next season despite knee surgery.
Nonetheless the Eagles will protect themselves at running back. They have two picks in the first round of the draft, numbers 21 and 28 overall.
“I’m not going to rule out free agency but I think it’s much more likely that the draft will be where we address that,” Banner said.
Banner didn’t sound at all as if free agent offensive tackle Tra Thomas would be back. And he didn’t quash rumors that cornerback Sheldon Brown wants a new contract, saying “That’s the norm.
“I don’t want to get into specifics,” Banner said. “This has not been presented to us as some big problem.
But there are very few players – or employees, for that matter – that don’t at least feel out if there’s a chance of getting more money than they’re making.”