The Eagles have plenty of questions to answer this offseason, but one area of concern has quickly become the offensive line.
This is a weird case where the entire starting OL is under contract for the next season, but there are still some serious questions for various reasons.
Doug Pederson addressed his offensive line in Tuesday’s season-wrap-up press conference.
Listen, our offensive line was one of the top offensive lines I felt like in the National Football League. It is unfortunate, Brandon [Brooks’] injury how it happened and when it happened; obviously last game of the season. But moving forward, very comfortable. Not going to get into a lot of specifics obviously with each guy. Howie has alluded to the fact that we would love to have them all back. That's part of this process, part of building relationships with our team.
The more guys obviously up front that you can keep together in the future is great for your quarterback, great for your running game, and just great for your offense in general. I think, too, we got a lot of confidence in some of our young players. We got Jordan Mailata and (Matt) Pryor, and of course Big V played a ton of snaps in his three years, and Isaac (Seumalo). A lot of confidence there, too. This will be a big off-season for those guys.
Pederson was right, well, somewhat right. Once the Eagles’ offensive line got healthy in 2018, it began playing really well again. Kelce and Lane Johnson had significant injuries earlier in the season, Seumalo missed time with a pec injury and Peters went through a multitude of injuries in 2018.
But here are the big problems:
• Right guard Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles in the Saints game. He had a super positive outlook this week about attacking his rehab, but he’s out for at least 6-8 months, which is going to push up to the start of the 2019 season and might force him to miss the early part of the season.
• When healthy, Jason Peters was still good, but he couldn’t stay healthy. The left tackle dealt with a myriad of injuries during last season and is about to turn 37. He is under contract for a cap hit of $10.6 million, which isn’t bad for a starting left tackle. But the Eagles might not be able to rely on him.
• And center Jason Kelce has at least thought of retirement. While it seems like he’ll return for the 2019 season, he’s year-to-year now, which means the Eagles might have to think about an eventual replacement for him sooner than they’d like.
There might be some depth concerns too. Stefen Wisniewski and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are both under contract next year. Wiz is a good backup/role player and should help if Brooks misses time. But Big V struggled to fill in for Peters during this season and it’s hard to think he’s the answer if the Eagles elect to move on from the future Hall of Famer.
After that, the Eagles have two draft choices from this season: Jordan Mailata and Matt Pryor as depth pieces. Neither played a snap this season, so it’s impossible to know what the Eagles have in them. Mailata has all the raw athleticism to play tackle in the NFL, but is a newcomer to American football and is still a project. Chance Warmack will be an unrestricted free agent after also playing seven snaps this season.
The philosophy under this regime has been to build along the lines. The Eagles think if they win in the trenches and have a quarterback, that’s the beginning of creating a good football team. So far, so good.
But with all these concerns, the Eagles are going to need to address their offensive line this offseason. Without a ton of cap room, they probably can’t afford to make a splash offensive lineman signing. So look for them to find some value or — and preferably — to prioritize the offensive line in the early part of April’s draft.
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.