<
>

Mitchell talked his way out of Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Freddie Mitchell has talked his way out of Philadelphia.

In a move that was no surprise, the Eagles released Mitchell on Friday, cutting ties with the wide receiver after four seasons
where he never lived up to his promise as a first-round pick.

"We appreciate everything Freddie has contributed to the Eagles
organization over the last four years," coach Andy Reid said. "By
releasing him now, it gives him the opportunity for a new start
with another team in the NFL."

Mitchell, picked in the first round out of UCLA in 2001, made
more news off the field than on it, labeling himself with a
seemingly endless list of self-promoting nicknames like "The
People's Champ," "FredEx," and "First-Down Freddie." Before
the Super Bowl, Mitchell offended some Patriots when he dissed
their secondary in an ESPN interview.

Mitchell said he just knew the numbers -- not the names -- of New
England's cornerbacks. He singled out Rodney Harrison, saying he
"has something" for the veteran strong safety. Mitchell also
called out New England coach Bill Belichick.

Unhappy over his role as the slot receiver and overshadowed by
Terrell Owens, Mitchell criticized his teammates for not backing
him up when he trashed talked the Patriots and blasted Donovan
McNabb for lacking confidence in him as a go-to receiver.

Mitchell was told not to come to Philadelphia's first mandatory
mini-camp last week.

"I told him I did not want him here," Reid said.

Mitchell played in 63 career games and had 90 catches for 1,263
yards and five touchdowns, but never posted more than 35 catches in a season. His best season came in 2003, when he had 35 catches, and became a very good third-down receiver out of the slot.

On the field, he was best known for his
catch on a fourth-and-26 play that kept Philadelphia's season alive
in the NFC divisional playoff game against Green Bay in January
2004.

Mitchell, 26, had two seasons remaining on the original six-year contract he signed as a first-round pick in the 2001 draft, and was scheduled for base salaries of $540,000 in 2005 and of $600,000 for 2006.

It will be interesting to see, now that Mitchell is free, how many teams demonstrate interest. There had been some rumblings that Tampa Bay might be inclined to consider Mitchell, but the Bucs on Friday officially signed veteran free agent wide receiver Ike Hilliard to the one-year contract, an accord reported by ESPN.com earlier in the week.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.