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Are the 2018 Eagles better or worse along the offensive line?

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Are the 2018 Eagles better or worse along the offensive line?

After suffering a season-ending injury last October, Jason Peters is expected to reprise his role as the Eagles’ left tackle in 2018. But the way Halapoulivaati Vaitai performed in Peters’ place, there were some suggesting the team should’ve traded or even released the nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

Are the Eagles better or worse with Peters on the offensive line at this point? By now, you should probably know the answer.

Better

Left tackle

This may be considered controversial. Peters is 36 and coming off a pair of torn ligaments in his right knee. There’s no guarantee the future Hall of Famer will return to his once dominant form, or even perform at a high level.

Yeah, yeah. This isn’t the first time Peters has been written off. They said the same thing when he ruptured his Achilles twice during the same 2012 offseason, then he was back to his dominant self in 2013. They said he was in decline after an injury-plagued 2015, and he’s played some of the best football of his career ever since, which is saying something.

Nothing against Vaitai – though perhaps he’s now a tad overrated since aiding the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. Peters is an athletic marvel, and even at 75 percent, he’s better than half the left tackles in the NFL.

Worse

???

You tell us. Everybody is back, minus 33-year-old emergency left tackle Will Beatty, who signed midway through last season and didn’t play a meaningful down. The oldest returning O-lineman besides Peters is center Jason Kelce at 30.

Even if Peters can’t play, the Eagles still have Vaitai, so they can always go back. At worst, the unit should look roughly the same, not accounting for any new injuries.

The same

Continuity

One area where keeping things the same is almost always a positive is along the offensive line. The ability of these five players to work together in concert is such a crucial aspect of the job.

It’s also something the Eagles shouldn’t have to worry about for the foreseeable future. Kelce, right guard Brandon Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson have played alongside each other for two years. Stefen Wisniewski has a full season under his belt at left guard. And whether it’s Peters or Vaitai at left tackle, both worked roughly half a season next to Wisniewski. If anything, continuity might be improved.

That extends to the bench as well. Vaitai has experience at right tackle. Swing guard Chance Warmack played alongside an array of guys on either side of the line, but always next to Kelce. The top seven in this group are perfectly capable of adjusting on the fly if necessary, while maintaining a level of familiarity.

The unknown

Isaac Seumalo

When an offensive line’s greatest unknown is the backup center, that’s usually a good sign. That being said, Seumalo is a curiosity at this point, and it’s impossible to know whether he can be trusted in his new role.

A third-round draft pick in 2016, Seumalo looked OK in spot duty as a rookie – good enough that the Eagles awarded him the left guard job out of training camp last year. Two weeks into the season, he was on the bench, and lately he’s practicing primarily at center.

It’s unclear whether the Eagles would even turn to Seumalo in a pinch. The 24-year-old is very much on the roster bubble. But assuming he does make the squad, he’s scary until proven otherwise, no matter where he is on the field.

Better or worse?

The Eagles had the best offensive line in the NFL last season. Occasionally, in a situation like that, there might be reason to project regression on the horizon, no matter how good the individual players are.

Yet Johnson, Brooks and Wisniewski are all under age 30, and Peters is back in the mix. The Eagles also invested late-round draft picks in Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata, which should strengthen the back end of the roster. This group easily looks BETTER.

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Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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.

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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

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.

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