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Deja Vu: Eagles Swap Backup Running Backs

Oct 18, 2011, 4:22 PM EDT

The Eagles have traded RB Ronnie Browns to the Detroit Lions for RB Jerome Harrison and a seventh round pick.

Last year, the Eagles engineered a trade of backup running backs, sending the plodding Mike Bell to the Browns for shifty Jerome Harrison. Bell had been largely ineffective as a short yardage back and part-time spell for LeSean McCoy, while Harrison was unable to carve out a role in Cleveland.

This year, the Eagles engineered a trade of backup running backs, sending the plodding Ronnie Brown to the Lions for shifty Jerome Harrison. Brown had been largely ineffective as a short yardage back and part-time spell for LeSean McCoy, while Harrison was unable to carve out a role in Detroit.

In all seriousness, Brown never really was given much of an opportunity to show his wares. He carried just 13 times in the first four games, gaining 38 yards for an average of 2.9 per touch. He had no receptions.

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Of course, Brown will forever best be known in Philly for his horrific turnover during the Eagles’ blown 20-point lead against the 49ers. On what Andy Reid would later admit was a designed halfback pass, Brown took a handoff from the 1-yard line and was promptly stuffed by the defense. Rather than eat the loss though, Brown attempted to throw the ball as he was flung to the ground. The ball went nowhere, except apparently backward according to officials, and San Francisco recovered the fumble.

The Eagles lost, that play pretty much summing up the team’s season up to that point. Brown had not touched the ball since.

According to Jay Glazer, Detroit also sent over a seventh round pick in 2013 while returning the Birds’ property. Harrison, who didn’t see many meaningful snaps for the Eagles last season, was allowed to leave via free agency. With Dion Lewis emerging as a capable runner who could become a dangerous asset, Harrison will likely play an even smaller role this time around, but he knows the offense and could be useful in a pinch.

Harrison carried 40 times for the Birds in 2010, gaining 239 yards and scoring one touchdown — but 208 of those and the score came from either garbage time during the Redskins blowout or Week 17 against the Cowboys when Reid was resting the starters. He added eight catches for 43. So far this year, he had a meager 44 total yards from scrimmage on 15 touches with the Lions.

It’s pretty clear Brown is being used as a scapegoat here, and for good reason. However, the Eagles also have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Lewis, and rather than cause a stir and glue Brown to the bench, they were able to shed his salary and acquire a fine replacement… not to mention an uber-valuable seventh rounder.

Also of note, Asante Samuel and Juqua Parker remain with the club, but the Eagles will need to release somebody to make room for Brandon Graham on the 53-man roster.