For 13 seasons — his entire NFL career — safety Brian Dawkins was one of the faces of the Philadelphia Eagles. That changed abruptly last week when Dawkins hit the free-agent market for the first time in his career, and in less than 48 hours, he had signed a five-year, $17 million deal with the Denver Broncos that included $7.2 million in guaranteed money.
Dawkins told ESPN 950 Radio in Philadelphia on Tuesday that he knew once he hit free agency, he wouldn’t return to Philadelphia. He opted not to get into details during an eight-minute interview, but he said he was deeply hurt and that his decision to leave was as much about what the Broncos did as it was what the Eagles didn’t do.
“Denver came out of the jump, and we didn’t have to prompt them to offer me anything,” Dawkins said. “They came out the jump just like this. Not quite where it is right now, but it was close to that. We didn’t have to ask for anything. This is what they came out with, wanting me there. They made it clear right away that I’m not a ‘want’ there, that I’m a necessity. They feel they need me here.”
Dawkins, who will turn 36 next season, said the negotiations with the Eagles didn’t reach the point where they were contentious, but the process opened his eyes. He was given the impression — “in so many words,” as he described it — that the Eagles could get on without him.
“What I was offered was … that was it,” Dawkins said. “No one gave me any impression that there would be any flexibility in it.
“I would say they opened my eyes right away that this was a business deal. That it wasn’t about me being who I am to the team. It was about my age, and it was a business decision. And that really hurt.”
Dawkins was quick to refute the idea that he wanted to test the free-agent market.
“I did not want to get to free agency,” Dawkins said. “I’ve never gotten to free agency, I’ve never gone to free agency. I’ve had years in the past where I could have collected big bucks on the open market, but I did not want to get there. So why would I want to get there all of a sudden now on my last contract? I wanted to be an Eagle. And they denied that.”