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Stallworth in NFL substance program
The status, reported by league sources with no details, could become costly baggage on the free-agent market.
By Bob Brookover
Inquirer Staff Writer
Donté Stallworth, the Eagles' free-agent receiver, brought some baggage with him when he hit the NFL's open market Friday.
According to league sources, Stallworth is a participant in the NFL's substance-abuse program, which could subject him to a league suspension if he were to violate the terms of the program again.
The circumstances and time frame that led to Stallworth's admittance to the program have not been disclosed, and the receiver's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not return phone calls last night.
NFL players can enter the substance-abuse program in a variety of ways, including voluntarily. Players also can be entered in the program for failing drug tests or for drug- and alcohol-related law violations away from the field, according to the collective-bargaining agreement.
An Eagles spokesman said last night that the team had no comment, citing the confidentiality rules that are in place regarding the league's substance-abuse program. According to the NFL Players Association's Web site, a breach of confidentiality can be subject to fines ranging from $10,000 to $500,000.
The Web site, quoting the collective-bargaining agreement, said that teams interested in signing a player via free agency are entitled to know whether a player is subject to a suspension the next time he fails to comply with any terms of the NFL's intervention program.
Stallworth, of course, is trying to land the best deal he can as an unrestricted free agent after spending last season as the Eagles' top speed receiver following a trade from the New Orleans Saints. He has said numerous times that he'd love to rejoin the Eagles, but there were no negotiations between the team and Rosenhaus before the free-agent period started Friday.
As of last night, there were no reports of Stallworth's visiting another NFL team, a ritual for free agents when the market opens. That doesn't mean interest in Stallworth's services is nonexistent, but it could mean that Rosenhaus' initial asking price might be considered too expensive, especially if the receiver is in a position in which he could be suspended if he violates the league's intervention program.
Stallworth was a well-liked player in the Eagles' locker room who made some major contributions, particularly in the two postseason games when he caught six passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. During the regular season, he caught 38 passes for 725 yards and five touchdowns. He also missed four games with a hamstring injury, but those were the first games he missed because of injury in the last three seasons.
The Eagles have said that they would like to have Stallworth back, but they do not want to overpay for his services. The belief within the organization has been that Stallworth would probably get a lucrative contract from another NFL team.
"Obviously, we never want to overpay for players, but I think there's a common ground you can come to and you can say you're willing to go this high," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said before the start of free agency. "But after that, you have to have your options open and move on if you think it's just too out of the price range."
Because Stallworth hit the free-agent market, the Eagles only have to surrender a fourth-round pick to the Saints as part of the trade the teams made shortly before the start of the 2006 season. Had Stallworth signed with the Eagles before the start of free agency, the team would have had to relinquish a third-round pick. The trade also sent linebacker Mark Simoneau to the Saints.
Stallworth, 26, is one of seven Eagles still on the free-agent market. The others are Rod Hood, Correll Buckhalter, Will James, Shawn Barber, Reno Mahe and Koy Detmer. According to league sources, Hood has a visit scheduled this week with the Cleveland Browns, and Buckhalter is scheduled to visit the Denver Broncos.
The Eagles have not announced any scheduled visits by free agents to the NovaCare Complex.
Re: Stallworth in NFL substance program
The Bengals could use a guy like Stallworth.:x