Free agent Trotter willing to return to EaglesPosted: Wednesday April 10, 2002 10:38 AM
Trotter's dispute with the Eagles ended Friday when the team removed the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl linebacker, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid said it was in everyone's best interest to let Trotter "explore other options."
But Trotter is willing to come back if the Eagles want him.
"I don't hold any grudges," Trotter said in an interview on Comcast SportsNet. "I wasn't raised that way.
"I would [come back]. It's not about the front office. It's about my teammates. It's about this city, my family and myself."
Under the franchise tag, Trotter would have been forced to accept a one-year contract worth about $5.5 million, based on an average of the league's five highest-paid linebackers.
Trotter, voted by his teammates the defensive MVP on a team that nearly went to the Super Bowl, wasn't pleased. He made it clear that he would rather be traded.
"I was very upset that they did slap the tag on me and weren't loyal to me when I was loyal to them," Trotter said. "Then, two, Andy declined to meet with me. I think that hurt me more than anything that I couldn't have a face-to-face meeting with my own head coach."
Still, Trotter said he planned to accept the Eagles' one-year offer, before the team withdrew it. Trotter's agent, Jimmy Sexton, called the move "underhanded," saying the Eagles hurt his client's chances of finding another team by waiting until other teams filled their needs at linebacker before making their decision.
Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh signed linebackers Friday.
"I knew I could sign it at anytime," Trotter said. "It really hit me by surprise when they took it off the table, because I didn't think they would do that. I wasn't worried about signing it the day they put it on me or six weeks later. My main concern was how everything went down."
Reid said Sexton wanted the Eagles to assure him they wouldn't use the franchise tag on Trotter again next season before he'd sign this year. The Eagles didn't want to make that guarantee.
"After reviewing Jeremiah's situation, I felt that it was in the best interest of Jeremiah and the team that we withdraw the franchise tag, letting him become a free agent to explore other options where he'll be happier," Reid said Friday.
"I've been tendered $5.5, so you're looking at another $500,000, and that's not much," Trotter said. "If you're willing to pay me $5.5 for this year, why not give me another $500,000 and make it $6 million a year and just sign me to a long-term deal?"
Trotter had 164 tackles last season to lead the Eagles for the third straight year. He added 31/2 sacks and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. But Trotter wasn't too effective against the run, and the Eagles' rush defense was 18th.
Philadelphia lost to the St. Louis Rams 29-24 in the NFC Championship Game.
Barry Gardner, a second-round pick in 1999, moves into the starting lineup in place of Trotter.