March 16, 2017
While the Philadelphia Eagles have severe holes at a number of positions, most notably cornerback, they have an abundance of depth along their offensive line. That is a good problem to have, especially considering that the Eagles needed to dig deep into their offensive line reserves a season ago.
In 2016, The Eagles lost Lane Johnson to a 10-game suspension, and Brandon Brooks missed two games due to anxiety. Allen Barbre, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Matt Tobin all also missed multiple games due to injury.
"When I look at it, we started five right tackles last season," said Howie Roseman as a guest on the Carlin and Reese show on 94.1 WIP on Wednesday. "The quickest way to deteriorate your football team is to not have depth up front. You need those guys over the course of the season."
Currently, the Eagles' offensive line depth would look something like this if the season were to begin today. The number in parentheses next to each player notes the number of games they have started in the NFL:
Twelve of the above players have started games in the NFL, and nine have started at least a season's worth of games. Combined, the Eagles' 17 offensive linemen have a whopping 581 career starts.
"Right now, we feel very comfortable that these 17 offensive linemen – we have 17 offensive linemen on this roster – if we brought all of them to camp, we would feel very good about that position and the priority of protecting the quarterback," Roseman said.
While they obviously cannot keep all 17 players, at 53-man cutdowns a season ago the Eagles kept 11 offensive linemen, an unusually high amount, which demonstrates that the Eagles truly do heavily value offensive line depth.
Still, something has to give, and the Eagles don't want to just give away a good player because they can't fit on the roster. Roseman was clear to note that they would be more than happy to listen to trade offers.
"When we looked at the availability in free agency and the draft, we felt that it wasn’t a great free agent or draft class, and it would pay off once we got to August and September, whether for the depth of our roster or the possibility is even there in trades," he said. "Everyone is looking for offensive linemen in the league, and we feel confident that when people watch our tape during training camp or looking at our depth chart, that we’ll have opportunities if we wanted to, to improve our football team by having strength at that position."
The obvious trade candidate would be Jason Kelce, as the Eagles have two potential center replacements in second-year pro Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski, who the team just retained with a three-year contract extension.
In January, PhillyVoice reported that the Eagles were considering moving on from Kelce. On Friday last week, we reported that the Eagles would absolutely not cut Kelce, which would narrow the "potentially moving on" part down to, you know, a trade.
The Eagles have discussed Kelce in trade talks, but have obviously not found a deal they like just yet. Any team trading for Kelce would be getting a favorable contract along with him. He would be on his potential new team's cap at only $5 million in 2017, with no guarantees left on the remainder of his deal, which runs through 2020.
The Eagles are certain to continue to entertain offers for Kelce, but that market may not heat up again for a while.
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