March 10, 2017
While the Eagles signing Alshon Jeffery in free agency is the biggest news of the day in Philadelphia (unless you *really* care about snow), executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and the front office also made a couple of moves to solidify the interior of the offensive line.
The development of Carson Wentz is the most important long-term project for the Eagles, and Roseman made it clear that the front office wasn’t just looking at upgrading the skill positions to tackle that problem.
“It would be a disservice for us not to talk about our offensive line, because it starts up front,” Roseman told reporters at the NovaCare Complex on Friday. “And if [Wentz] doesn’t have time to throw, it doesn’t matter who we have on the outside.”
Specifically, the Eagles targeted the interior of the offensive line. In addition to signing former first-round pick Chance Warmack from Tennessee, the Birds also somewhat surprisingly re-signed Stefen Wisniewski to a three-year deal.
Perhaps taking a page from the Sixers, the Eagles now have a bit of a logjam in the middle. Center Jason Kelce is flanked by a grand total of five guards who can stake at least a semi-legitimate claim on a starting spot: Brandon Brooks (who will start) as well as Isaac Seumalo, Allen Barbre, Warmack, and Wisniewski. In fact, Roseman said that 12 of the Eagles’ 17 offensive linemen have started in the NFL.
But, there seems to a big, if undersized, elephant in the room.
Back in January, PhillyVoice reported that the Eagles were considering moving on from Kelce via trade or outright release. Last week at the Combine, Roseman remained noncommittal on Kelce returning. And on Friday, he was asked point-blank if these signings signify that the team is ready to part ways with its starting center.
Without mentioning Kelce specifically, Roseman said that the Eagles plan to keep all of their offensive linemen.
“No. In fact, the first thing we talked about this morning was the outstanding depth that we have on the offensive line,” Roseman said. “When you look at it, you can say you’re committed to the lines but your actions have to reflect that. And as we looked at the offensive line and the depth we had, we played five right tackles last year. We know we’re going to need all those guys. It’s a position around the league that people are looking for, so we’re really excited and our plan is to keep all of those guys.”
It remains to be seen if Roseman does keep Kelce, considering the wiggle room that statement allows him. Whether it’s simply coincidence or actual strategy, the Eagles are bringing in a lot of the bigger linemen that Andy Reid favored. Warmack, for example, is freaking huge.
As we all know, Kelce is extremely athletic but undersized. The Eagles, who are in a bit of a tricky salary cap spot, could save $3.8 million of Kelce’s $6.2 million salary if they trade or cut him. And both Wisniewski and Seumalo have played center in the past.
UPDATE: Our Jimmy Kempski is reporting that the Eagles will not release Kelce.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann