PHILADELPHIA (March 7, 2003) -- The Philadelphia Eagles
announced that they have signed free-agent fullback Jon Ritchie to a two-year contract. As is club policy, terms of the deal were undisclosed.
Ritchie, 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, was originally Oakland's third-round draft choice in 1998, the 63rd overall selection. In his five-year career with the Raiders, he played in 75 games (48 starts) and served as a powerful lead blocker and valued receiving option out of the backfield, hauling in 129 passes for 1,026 yards and four touchdowns.
"I felt very strongly that if I were to leave the Raiders, it would have to be for a great team and in a situation where I could contribute a good amount," Ritchie said. "Playing time is a real issue for me and I feel comfortable with the offense here, which is very similar to what I've run my whole career.
"Im excited as heck to be back in Pennsylvania. This is a place that I've thought about non-stop throughout the free-agency process. I'm just really glad to be around."
Last season, Ritchie caught 10 passes for 66 yards and one touchdown in 16 games, with two starts. His blocking was key in helping protect last season's league MVP Rich Gannon, who headed the NFL's top-ranked offense in 2002.
"Jon Ritchie is going to join us for the next couple years here and take over the fullback position," said head coach Andy Reid. "Not only is he a Pennsylvania guy, but he's a heck of a football player
and he's proven that over the years."
The 28-year-old, Mechanicsburgh, Pa., native starred collegiately at Stanford for two seasons. Ritchie originally began his collegiate career at Michigan (1993-94) before transferring to Stanford in January of 1995.
Ritchie was a consensus All-America selection at Cumberland Valley (Pa.) High School. He led his team to a state championship as a senior in 1992 and then played for the Pennsylvania squad in the "Big 33" All-Star Classic the following summer.
The Eagles also announced that they have re-signed linebacker Keith Adams to a one-year contract. Adams had been an exclusive rights free agent. He joined the Eagles off waivers from Dallas on October 21, 2002.
Adams played the final 10 regular-season games and both postseason contests for the Eagles last year and finished fifth on the team with 14 special-teams tackles.