Releasing non statistically valuable players

I had a sudden thought this morning when considering life as an Eagles fan post Jason Avant and Michael Vick. While many may not be hurting that Vick is likely to leave, many are hurting about Avant possibly leaving. I would be part of that many. My reason is that Avant may not put up gaudy numbers or be as dynamic as other slot receivers around the league, i.e. Victor Cruz. He brings however, something that we don't have much of, true homegrown leaders. I didn't think leadership was all that important. Talent should be first and foremost, but then I came up with a thought experiment. Drop everyone from the team that isn't the most talented or in decline and see what we are left with.

we could theoretically drop the following if this was purely talent and age.

Trent cole 31

Jason Avant 30

Celek? 29

Todd Herremans 31

Jason Peters? 32

We know that in the previous regime under Reid, he held a phobia of keeping players past 30. Very few made it past that mark. How can we theoretically predict the repercussions of releasing a player who may be over 30 and possibly in decline, or just not ultra talented. We don't have to look further then 2007-2010. In that span, we lost players such as Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, and most importantly, Dawkins. Now Westbrook was quite injury prone and we got lucky in landing Mccoy, but will the Vikings be as likely to replace Adrian Peterson? We see the Colts got lucky in replacing Peyton as well, but will the Lions just magically stumble upon the next Calvin Johnson? Not likely. There is no way to make the assumption that pieces can be equally replaced. In 2008, the Eagles let Brian Dawkins leave. We are all aware that we haven't been able to replace him, but more importantly, our on again off again friend Cary Williams noted that the defense was not tough. And thats true. We can bring in Jarius Byrd, sure, but can we match that homegrown passion and leadership? We may never know.

So to finally get to my point, sorry, there must be a way to retain players of that immense value, without keeping them far past their shelf life. At this point, its safe to assume that without Celek, Avant, Cole, Peters, Herremans, the team may not be able to function. The defense lost its vision when Brian Dawkins left and JJ (RIP) were gone. A defense that made offensive personnel regret their careers long before the Seahawks replicated the physicality, the Eagles laid down hits that are very well no longer legal. Why can't Avant, in this instance, finish out his contract as he makes a transition to valuable assistant? No doubt, Avant isn't going to retain 3rd string WR if either Cooper or Maclin come back. If a Wr is drafted, even more unlikely. But why can't Avant fill the role that Duce Staley was able to transition to? If we take WR "Speedy SuperSized Freak of Nature with room to improve," who better to pass on wisdom and train with then someone like Avant. The Patriots have showed us that the right atmosphere can make all the difference, or even Cris Carters success in Minnesota after leaving the Eagles. I think this is something to consider, and trust me, I wish, at this stage, that I could've thought of the implications of this and emailed it to Andy Reid long before he let Westbrook and Dawkins go. With Avant taking on a coaching role upon his contract ending, he, or anyone, is able to retire among their peers, while still being a leader in the room, someone respected, and ending all debate of whether we should keep Copper or Maclin or Avant just because we don't want to have more Wideouts than defensive personnel. Let me know what you all think. Am I just having a ridiculous thought that has consumed my day, or should teams look to retain homegrown leadership in this fashion?

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