By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
After sitting through the recent National Football League draft and never hearing his named called, former Clovis High standout Hank Baskett has now been a part of two NFL organizations.
Shortly after the draft, Baskett signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. On Thursday, they traded him to Philadelphia for wide receiver Billy McMullen, a 2003 third-round pick who caught 18 passes for 268 yards in 2005 and had 29 receptions in three seasons with the Eagles.
Baskett, the leading receiver at the University of New Mexico each of the last two seasons, had already gone through a pre-draft workout with the Eagles, so familiar with some of the coaches and players. Philadelphia went 6-10 last season.
“It (trade) was definitely a surprise,” Baskett said Thursday by phone from Philadelphia. “Now that I know everything going on, I feel great about it.
“There’s no guarantees, but it’s a good feeling that they wanted me. For them to trade a guy that’s played already, that was really something.”
The Eagles’ wide receiver situation has certainly changed since the start of the 2005 season, when Terrell Owens’ spat with quarterback Donavan McNabb was grabbing national attention. According to the Eagles’ Web site, the team’s most experienced receivers are Todd Pinkston and Greg Lewis.
“We’re excited about the change,” said Jim Ivler, Baskett’s New York-based agent. “The Eagles clearly liked him from the beginning. It speaks volumes when they’re giving up a third-round draft pick for him.”
Baskett said he met McNabb on his earlier trip to Philadelphia, and had lunch with the standout quarterback. He said if he makes the team, whatever role he is given would be fine with him.
“Hey, I’m a big guy,” the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder said. “I don’t mind blocking if that’s what they want me to do.
“To come to the NFL and have Donavan McNabb as your quarterback, shoot, that’s awesome right there.”
Baskett added that he harbors no ill will toward the Vikings.
“The Eagles initiated the trade,” Ivler noted. “It’s a pretty unusual thing for a free agent to get traded like that.”
The agent said he thinks it’s a better situation for Baskett “just based on how it came about. Now they (Eagles) have a little incentive to make it work. Hopefully, this will be like football destiny.”