Eagles Acquire LB Spikes From Bills

Monday, March 26th 2007, 9:17 pm
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Philadelphia Eagles acquired Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes and quarterback Kelly Holcomb from the Buffalo Bills on Monday night for defensive tackle Darwin Walker and a conditional draft pick in 2008.

``This is something that has been brewing,'' Bills general manager Marv Levy said. ``Takeo is a good person, but we wanted to strengthen our defensive tackle. They've been looking for a linebacker and I think they wanted an experienced backup quarterback.''

A nine-year NFL veteran, Spikes was slow recovering last year from a right Achilles' tendon tear he suffered in Week 3 of the 2005 season. He's scheduled to make $9.5 million ($4.5 million this season) over the final two years of the six-year contract he signed after joining the team as a free agent.

Spikes played his first five seasons with Cincinnati and had been seeking a contract extension with Buffalo. But he grew increasingly frustrated playing for a team that's constantly shuffling its roster and coaching staff, and has gone seven seasons since last making the playoffs.

Spikes, a former first-round pick, could be a big upgrade at linebacker for the Eagles, who have struggled at that spot the past few seasons.

Dhani Jones has never been the playmaker the Eagles needed and Matt McCoy struggled last season before losing his job to Omar Gaither. The Eagles also lost free agent Shawn Barber to Houston.

``Takeo Spikes is a proven playmaker in the National Football League,'' Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. ``He has the ability to play all three linebacking positions and were happy to add him to our defense.''

Spikes had 11 starts in 12 games last season, while missing four with a hamstring injury after he was hurt in Buffalo's season-opener at New England. He finished with 76 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble, modest numbers for a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

He's the second high-profile Bills player to be traded this offseason and also the second starting linebacker the team has lost. Buffalo dealt running back Willis McGahee to Baltimore and linebacker London Fletcher signed with Washington earlier this month.

Walker started 15 games and was tied for second on the Eagles with six sacks, and had 56 tackles. Three of his sacks came Oct. 8 against Dallas, and he tied an Eagles postseason record with two sacks in a loss at New Orleans.

With the addition of Walker, the Bills bolster what had been an inexperienced defensive tackle position last season.

Besides veteran Larry Tripplett, Buffalo went with a young rotation led by rookie fifth-round pick Kyle Williams and second-year veteran Tim Anderson. The line also experienced a setback when defensive tackle John McCargo, the second of Buffalo's two first-round picks, was lost for the season after he broke his left foot in Week 5.

Holcomb has made 21 starts over an 11-year career. He joins A.J. Feeley on the quarterback depth chart behind Donovan McNabb. Holcomb did not play last season, but completed 155 of 230 passes for 1,509 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2005.

Holcomb proved expendable in Buffalo after J.P. Losman won the starting job in training camp following an off-season long three-way competition between Holcomb and third-stringer Craig Nall. That was a considerable step for Losman, who was twice benched in 2005 in favor of Holcomb.

Losman then showed gradual progress last season, leading the Bills to a better than expected 7-9 finish. Losman showed particular improvement over the last half of the season, when the Bills won four of their last seven games.

That was enough for coach Dick Jauron to name Losman the starter heading into next year. The Bills have also expressed confidence in Nall taking over the back-up job.