Eagles look to trade Welbourn for higher spot

Updated: April 19, 2004, 1:43 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

For the second consecutive draft, the Eagles are making a big move to position themselves better in the first round.

The Eagles are working with the 49ers to move from the 28th spot in the first round to the 16th spot. To make the move, the Eagles are talking about giving up starting left guard John Welbourn and possibly another draft choice.

Though it is not known whether this trade will be done before the draft or on draft day, a lot is happening behind the scenes to increase the likelihood of the deal being completed.

A year ago, the Eagles moved from No. 30 to No. 15 in a trade with the Chargers in order to select defensive end Jerome McDougle. The Eagles gave up a second-round choice in that move.

While Welbourn would be a big part of this potential trade, the Eagles would probably have to throw in an extra pick to complete the deal.

Welbourn is signed through 2008 and recently asked the Eagles to renegotiate his contract. He is scheduled to make $1 million this year. His contract averages $1.81 million a year.

Yet, the team has options to replace him. The Eagles reached a four-year, $4 million deal with backup guard Artis Hicks on Friday, who would be penciled in as Welbourn's replacement at left guard. Included in the deal is a $1.2 million signing bonus and escalators based on playing time that could earn Hicks up to $2.5 million in a season.

Acquiring Welbourn would close out a quick renovation along the 49ers offensive line. The 49ers recently signed Scott Rehberg as a backup and were completing a one-year deal for tackle Greg Randall on Friday. Acquiring Welbourn would give the 49ers the ability to make right guard Kyle Kosier the top backup at right guard and a few other positions along the line.

Welbourn, 28, was a fourth-round choice for the Eagles in 1999. He has started the past four seasons. The chance to go back to the Bay area would be welcomed by him because, like defensive end Brandon Whiting, whom the 49ers acquired in the Terrell Owens trade, Welbourn went to Cal.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer