Eagles Eye Pritchard, Ex-broncos Receiver The Birds Are One Of Four Clubs Considered Serious Contenders By The Player's Agent. Denver Cut Pritchard Monday.

Posted: June 05, 1996

After publicly courting offensive tackle Lomas Brown in February, and then not offering him a contract as Arizona snapped him up, the Eagles now have their eye on another major free agent - receiver Mike Pritchard.

As expected, Pritchard, 27, a former first-round pick who was injured for most of the 1994 season, was released Monday by the Denver Broncos for salary-cap reasons.

``We want to get him in here, sit down and talk with him,'' Dick Daniels, the Eagles' director of football operations, said yesterday. ``Hopefully soon, because there are about eight other clubs also after him.''

Already, Pritchard's agent, Jack Mills, has pared the suitors from nine clubs to four with serious intentions - Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle and Philadelphia. Oakland and Seattle have shown the most interest, Mills said.

Mills advised all the clubs yesterday that he expected to complete a deal for Pritchard by the weekend. Mills said he expected a one-year offer of about $450,000, plus incentives.

``I'm not sure which teams he'll show a preference for,'' Mills said.

Pritchard suggested that his preference was the Eagles.

``You look across the board of the clubs that called my agent, and the Eagles are on top,'' Pritchard said yesterday from his home in Las Vegas. ``Ray Rhodes is a coach and motivator. You can have all the talent in the world, but you have to be motivated to produce, and Rhodes did that in Philadelphia.

``That's why I'd be interested in playing there. I want to play for a club that's going to win and will allow me to be productive. Ray set a standard and he achieved it. He took a team that people didn't think could win and motivated them to win.''

Elsewhere on the free-agent front, defensive end Simon Fletcher, a former Bronco and 11-year veteran, who had agreed to terms with the Eagles, called the team yesterday to say he had hurt his back working out and would retire.

Pritchard is a five-year veteran who missed most of 1994 with a lacerated kidney and was slow to recover last season while also being bothered by bursitis in his right knee.

The Eagles want to learn how healthy the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Pritchard is. He started 13 games and had 33 receptions for 441 yards and three touchdowns in Denver in 1995.

Two years ago, he was off to a record-breaking season with 19 catches in his first three games when he fell on the nose of the football in practice, lacerating his kidney.

``I'm fully recovered from that injury,'' Pritchard said. ``People said I was hurt last year with the knee, but I played the entire season with that knee while still recovering from my kidney injury.''

A former Falcon in the Red Gun offense, Pritchard would have made $2 million against the cap in 1996, which is why Denver released him.

Offensive coordinator Jon Gruden is eager to see what Pritchard can do in the West Coast offense.

``We could sure use that guy,'' Gruden said yesterday after the Eagles completed the second day of their passing camp.

In 1991, Pritchard, from Colorado, was named to the NFL all-rookie team in Atlanta with 50 catches for 624 yards. The following season, he was second on the Falcons in receiving yards (77 for 827) and in 1993, Pritchard was part of a Falcon trio (Andre Rison and Michael Haynes) that led the league in both receptions (232) and touchdowns (26).

The Falcons traded him to Denver on draft day in 1994 for a first-round pick in 1995 and third round pick in 1994. That season, his career seemed ready to take off. Instead, it plummeted with the kidney injury in November 1994. Pritchard had an average season on the rebound in '95.

Denver's recent signing of former Giants receiver Mike Sherrard to a four-year, $4.5 million deal made Pritchard expendable.

MORE MUSCLE. Running back Ricky Watters said yesterday his weight is up to 224 pounds - seven pounds over last year's weight. Watters has been working out daily with weights in San Francisco and has noticeably bulked up his shoulders. He's also sporting a shaved head.

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