The Philadelphia Eagles addressed their need for linebacker depth Tuesday by acquiring Will Witherspoon from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for rookie wide receiver Brandon Gibson and a 2010 fifth-round draft pick.
"He's a three-down linebacker, and he can play both the mike position and the will linebacker position," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Witherspoon, who will play the middle in Philadelphia. "He's very good at both of them. He's a good cover linebacker. He has the flexibility to cover tight ends and running backs and that type of thing, which is a plus."
The Rams moved Witherspoon from the middle to his more natural weakside position this season to make room for James Laurinaitis, whom St. Louis selected with the 35th overall pick in last April's draft.
"I'm definitely comfortable doing it," Witherspoon said. "It's never bothered me one way or another, when I was lighter or heavier, one side of the ball or the other. I'm a guy who just wants to be out on the field and have an opportunity to make plays."
"I've gotten pretty comfortable with it," Witherspoon said. "I think I've done a pretty good job of what he asked of me and what was asked of me in the defense and how the other guys around me need to perform and try to maintain my role.
"Overall, there is a lot of similarity, and that will kind of be the good thing about it."
Witherspoon, an eight-year NFL veteran who spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, has 33 tackles and one forced fumble this season. He has recorded more than 100 tackles in a season three times in his career (2004, 2006, 2007) and has missed just two games because of injury.
Second-year pro Joe Mays was handed the job, but he failed to impress. Omar Gaither, liked by the Eagles as a coverage linebacker, was next. He was replaced by recently re-signed Jeremiah Trotter, who had been out of football for over a year.
Trotter was exposed in coverage during last week's 13-9 road loss to the Oakland Raiders, and he doesn't appear to be the answer. Gaither injured a foot during the game and could be out of practice this week.
Witherspoon now is joining a team with serious playoff hopes, leaving the 0-6 Rams behind.
"It means a lot to go to a team that has the opportunity to be a contender," he said. "That's what you have to look at. You have to sit there and say, 'OK, take the positives out of everything.'
"I know I'm leaving kind of a comfort zone here, being that I've been here for almost the last four years, but I'm moving into another situation."
While appearing on "The Fast Lane" on 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Rams executive vice president/player personnel Billy Devaney said the Eagles first called about Witherspoon late last week. However, the sides didn't strike an agreement until about 30 minutes before the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline, according to Devaney, because the Rams initially were hesitant to trade Witherspoon and insisted on a player and a draft pick in the deal.
"Everything is based on what's best for the St. Louis Rams," Devaney said. "We hate to lose Will Witherspoon -- football player and the person -- he's a credit to any organization, on and off the field. But at the end of the day when we looked at what we were getting in return, we thought, again, this is what's best for the Rams, and we made the decision to go forward."
The winless Rams are thin at wide receiver, dressing just four in every game, and were down to three after Donnie Avery injured his hip during Sunday's overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. An MRI exam showed that Avery has a bruise, and Spagnuolo said Monday the second-year pro would be day to day.
Gibson, a sixth-round pick in April, didn't have a catch for the Eagles this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.