A interesting discussion on what Sheldon Brown's value is has popped up in the trade thread, but since that's hundreds of comments long and about a lot of stuff... I figured it would be worth singling out the discussion on value.
First, what is the value of Sheldon Brown in trade to the rest of the league? There has been one other notable trade of a corner this offseason, the Chargers sending Antonio Cromartie to the Jets for a 3rd round pick. Cromartie is coming off a down year, but he's still 25 years old. He's got rare size for a corner, sub 4.4 speed, is a former pro bowler, and led the NFL in picks in 2007. His game isn't without warts as he's probably a sub Asante level tackler... but it's still probably fair to call him one of the most promising young corners in the league. He was also in the last year of his contract.
So, if a 25 year old former pro bowler was worth a 3rd round pick... what is Sheldon Brown worth? Well, he's 31 years old and coming off a very solid season where he started off very well but struggled late thanks to injuries. Brown is a great tackler, but is probably best described as an average cover corner. If you could point to his biggest weakness, it's that he gets beat deep. He's an ironman who never misses games and is generally a very consistent presence. An above average player by most measures.He's never made a pro bowl, but turned down an alternate invite this year. Brown has been disgruntled about his contract for the past couple seasons and requested a trade last offseason.
I don't think anyone can say that in terms of trade value, Sheldon Brown is worth more than Antonio Cromartie. The youth alone makes Cromartie more valueable in terms of a trade, but his size and superior "glamour stats(INTS)" certainly help as well. If the base value here is Cromartie at a 3rd round value, then that would make Sheldon's value at least a notch below. When you consider that a trade for Brown is also probably contingent on a big new contract... that might push his value down a bit as well.
We continue after the jump.
The one issue with this trade that makes it tough to evaluate is that Brown wasn't the only part of the trade and the Eagles didn't get a single pick in return. Chris Gocong was part of the package and they got two picks and player in return. However, even if the return for Sheldon was only the 4th round pick... it's still probably a fair market value deal. In all likelihood a little more of the total value came in return for Sheldon because Gocong may not even have been worth a 5 alone... but again it's hard to say. Cavorting Eagle summarized a few of the reports about what was traded for what in this fanpost.
Either way, the Eagles did get fair market value in return for Sheldon Brown. It's very unlikely that a better deal was out there. That said, the ability to get fair market value for a player isn't the only factor that makes a player worth trading.
Was Sheldon worth keeping around anyway? That partly depends on whether they thought he'd become a bigger problem this year. Last year he complained about his contract and requested a trade, but still went to training camp and didn't make a big issue of it during the season. Would he have been satisfied to do the same for another year?
On the other side though, it's not as if the Eagles secondary is full of talent and Brown can easily be replaced. Unlike when Brown & Sheppard were waiting in the wings when Bobby Taylor & Troy Vincent were sent packing, there really is no heir apparent ready to step in for Sheldon. Joselio Hanson & Ellis Hobbs are both guys with starting experience, but they aren't going to excite anyone. There's kids like Dimitri Patterson or maybe even Macho Harris(who was a corner in college) but neither were top picks or blue chip talent. So if the Eagles do draft a young corner with a pick this year, he won't have the benefit of sitting behind a good veteran for a year. He could very well be asked to start from day one.
Letting Sheldon go is in some ways like letting Dawkins go. If the team thinks that it was their to leave that's fine... but typically the team has a guy lined up to take the place of the veteran and in these two instances they don't seem to have done that.
As with a lot of these moves, I think it's important that we wait to see the other shoe drop. If August rolls around and the Eagles tell us how great Joselio Hanson is and how he's our starter... I'll be pretty disappointed. However, if they swung a trade for a corner or drafted a top guy, well then maybe trading away Sheldon wasn't so bad.
A lot of people panicked when the Eagles let Tra Thomas walk. When the other shoe dropped on that move, Jason Peters was your new LT. Of course, people panicked when Dawkins left and the other shoe still hasn't dropped on that one...