There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Losing Brandon Brooks is absolutely devastating for the Eagles.
If you ever want to know just how important Brandon Brooks is to the Philadelphia Eagles think back to last April and what Jason Kelce said about the playoff loss to the Saints a few months earlier.
“I would argue, maybe, (we were) a hurt right guard away from getting back to the NFC Championship Game,” Kelce said.
And he was probably right.
Now the Eagles are without their star right guard for the entire 2020 season. Brooks on Monday morning, tore his left Achilles tendon and will miss the entire season.
Replacing him won’t be easy. But the Eagles have to try. Here are some options:
When Brooks went down in the regular season finale in 2019, it was Pryor who stepped in. And in the wild card game against the Seahawks, he got his first-career NFL start and held up. He played every snap in that game. According to ProFootballFocus, Pryor gave up 1 sack, 3 hurries and 4 pressures.
Pryor (6-7, 322) was a 6th-round pick out of TCU back in 2018. He was drafted as a tackle but has been a better fit at guard.
This one makes plenty of sense. While it might be tough to ask a future Hall of Famer to not just change positions but also change sides at 38 years old, if anyone can handle it, it’s Peters. There had been talk before about Peters’ possibly moving to guard later in his career and just last season, he volunteered to play right tackle if the Eagles needed him there when Lane Johnson was down.
Even though the Eagles are ready to move forward with Andre Dillard at left tackle, they’ve remained in contact with Peters. Everyone pretty much expected that Peters would be off the market by now, but he isn’t. If nothing else, losing Brooks hurts the Eagles depth and they could replenish some of that by bringing Peters back.
Herbig (6-4, 334) joined the Eagles as an undrafted rookie out of Stanford in 2019. He was on the active roster all season and played just three total snaps on offense. But the Eagles liked him enough that they got him some work at center last summer. A team needs to trust a player before they give him that kind of role.
Like Herbig, Opeta (6-4, 305) was undrafted last year. Out of Weber State, the Eagles kept Opeta on their practice squad until Week 14, when they promoted him to avoid losing him. He seems to be a favorite of the coaching staff.
The Eagles used a fourth-round pick in 2020 on Driscoll, who played right tackle at Auburn. But earlier in his career, he played guard and many evaluators think that’s where he’ll play long-term. During the pre-draft process, he even learned center. The Eagles really like Driscoll and see him almost like a replacement for Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was a fifth-round pick in 2016. While Vaitai was more of a pure tackle, he learned to play guard as well and was preparing to fill in for Brooks last year if Brooks wasn’t ready for the opener.
Now we’re getting to the other options who aren’t on the current roster. Warford (6-3, 317) was released by the Saints this offseason after New Orleans drafted Cesar Ruiz in the first round. Warford turns 29 in a few days but is coming off his third consecutive Pro Bowl season, although his level of play dipped in 2019. His weight and price tag have been concerns for some teams. Since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2013 with the Lions, he’s started 101 games. The Eagles have been hesitant to spend money past a certain point this offseason, aiming to carry over cap space into 2021, but if there’s a position they’ll make an exception for, it’s OL.
The younger brother of Eagles favorite Chris Long actually said on Twitter Monday that he didn’t retire; he was fired by the Bears. He says he’ll know within the next few weeks if he’ll return to the NFL. Long is 31 now and ended the 2019 season on IR with a hip injury. The former first-rounder played seven seasons in Chicago and was a Pro Bowler in his first three seasons.
Person, 31, is coming off a two-year stint with the 49ers from 2018-19 under head coach Kyle Shanahan. We point him out because of the connection to Eagles offensive assistant Rich Scangarello, who learned under Shanahan and was in San Francisco in 2018 and Atlanta in 2015; Person was in both cities during those years. Person (6-4, 300) fits best in zone blocking schemes and has started 48 games in his career.
Leary (6-3, 320) turned 31 in April and was the Broncos’ starting right guard for 12 games last year before missing the final four games with a concussion. He has reportedly been cleared since then. Of course, Scangarello was the Broncos’ OC last season. Leary has started 76 games in his eight-year NFL career.
This one is a little tricky because Warmack is on the Seahawks’ roster, but he’s certainly not a lock to make that team. As bad as his first stint in Philly went, he has a long-standing relationship with Jeff Stoutland and the Eagles liked him enough in 2017 to try him out as the starter before they eventually went with Stefen Wisniewski over Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Warmack, the former first-round pick, is 28.
Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.