Simon shuffling off?
Friday, August 05, 2005
By MARK ECKEL
Staff Writer

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - If the Eagles want to save $5.1 million against the salary cap, unlock a logjam at defensive tackle and solve one of their contract troubles, they may be able to do it.

Of course, it would cost them one of their best defensive players.

According to a very reliable league source, the Buffalo Bills have been looking into the possibility of acquiring franchise-tagged defensive tackle Corey Simon from the Eagles.

Two other sources confirmed the Bills' interest. Now it's a matter of Buffalo getting Simon to agree to a contract and coming up with compensation for the Eagles.

Eagles president Joe Banner said he has not heard from the Bills, but he indicated he might be willing to listen if and when they do call.

The Eagles nearly had a deal done before the draft that would have sent Simon to the Baltimore Ravens for two draft picks, believed to be a second-rounder and a third-rounder. Baltimore could not come to contract terms with Simon, however.

Keep in mind, Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak was the Eagles director of football operations when the team made Simon the sixth overall pick out of Florida State in the 2000 draft. Buffalo director of college scouting Marc Ross also was the Eagles' southeast scout who went to every one of Simon's workouts and his physical prior to that draft.

"That would be interesting (to go to Buffalo)," Simon said. "But at this point, I don't know what I would do. ... If they're interested, I would have to listen."

The Eagles placed the franchise tag on Simon in February, which guaranteed him a one-year deal worth the average of the top five highest paid defensive tackles in the league, which computed to $5.1 million.

Simon, who said he would be in the lineup for the start of the season in Atlanta, has not signed that tender yet, and missed the team's minicamps and the first week of training camp. He is not required to sign the tender until just before the season.

All along, he has contended that he is not unhappy with the $5.1 million salary. He just wants a long-term deal and the security of the signing bonus that goes along with that deal.

The Eagles have told him that isn't going to happen.

If the Eagles trade him, that $5.1 million would come off the salary cap, of which the Eagles still are about $3.5 million under.

As far as replacing Simon at defensive tackle, where he has started 78 of 80 regular-season games (he missed two games in 2002) and 12 postseason games in his five years with the team, the team continues to rave about first-round draft pick Mike Patterson.

"I haven't been disappointed," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said of Patterson after yesterday's morning practice. "He's really a coachable guy. He shows his quickness. He's everything we thought he is."

On the depth chart at defensive tackle along with Patterson are veterans Darwin Walker, Sam Rayburn, Hollis Thomas, Paul Grasmanis and rookie Keyonta Marshall. It's unusual to keep more than five defensive tackles on the final 53-man roster, and some teams keep just four.

Buffalo's depth chart at tackle shows veteran run-stuffer Sam Adams and three young, unproven players: Ron Edwards, Justin Bannan and Tim Anderson.

"If the Eagles were going to take a second and a third from Baltimore, I'm sure they would take the same from Buffalo," the league source. "The Bills will probably try to get him for less. But the tough part might be getting Simon to go there."