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July 09, 2021

Eagles 2021 training camp preview: Center

Eagles NFL
Jason_Kelce_Eagles_Rams_Kate_Frese_092020 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles center Jason Kelce

Leading up to training camp (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team. Today we'll look at the centers.

Previous training camp previews

Quarterback • Running back • Offensive tackle • Guard

As we noted previously, we'd normally just lump all the interior offensive linemen into one article, but there are five centers on the roster presently, so we'll give them their own post. Here's the depth chart at center:

 1 2
 Jason Kelce Landon DickersonLuke Juriga Ross Pierschbacher Harry Crider 

Jason Kelce

The Eagles re-worked Kelce's contract this offseason that cleared a little less than $3 million on the 2021 salary cap. Per OverTheCap:

Kelce signed a new contract with the Eagles in March of 2021. The new contract is a effectively a one year, $9 million contract that includes a $4.5 million raise from his prior salary. The contract contains what are effectively four dummy contract years for salary cap purposes which is designed to allow the Eagles to use a June 1 release on Kelce in 2022.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, there's something of a "poison pill" on Kelce's contract that says that if he is not retired or released by June 2 of 2022, the Eagles will owe him $30 million.

In other words, barring another re-worked deal between now and then, this will be Kelce's last season with the team. Appreciate him while you can.

Landon Dickerson

In case you're unaware, Dickerson has a long list of injuries in his past, with the most recent one being a torn ACL in his left knee, suffered in December of 2020. 

The Eagles think that Dickerson will play at some point this season. "We're confident it's not going to be a redshirt season," Howie Roseman said shortly after the draft. "[With Sidney Jones] we kind of said, ‘Hey, this is a guy, he's not going to play this year and we're just going to get him right.’ That's not what we were thinking about with Landon."

At the end of March, Dickerson was hamming it up in the background of a Mac Jones interview, doing at least four consecutive cartwheels.

I'm not a doctor, but that seems good? I don't know. Anyway, a typical ACL recovery period is around eight or nine months, which would put Dickerson's initial availability somewhere around August or September. As such, there's an outside chance he'll start training camp on the NFI list. A semi-recent suggestion that Dickerson can push Kelce for the starting job is laughable, given Kelce's salary (as noted above), and that Dickerson almost certainly won't be ready to practice fully by the start of training camp in late July.

Dickerson pushing for Isaac Seumalo's starting LG spot is somewhat more feasible, but as we laid out on Wednesday is still not perfectly logical, at least if the team still views Seumalo as part of the team's future. From the Eagles' perspective, there's no reason to rush Dickerson into action. Assuming all the familiar names make it to Week 1 relatively unscathed, there aren't any starting spots on the interior of the Eagles' offensive line immediately available anyway. Seumalo will start at LG, Kelce at C, and Brandon Brooks at RG, with Nate Herbig ready to fill in should one of those guys go down.

However, as the season progresses, Dickerson is likely to play at some point, seeing as the Eagles had eleventy billion starting OL combinations due to injury last year, not to mention the average age of their projected starting offensive linemen will be 29.4 at the start of the season, with a combined 419 career starts. Even though Dickerson is probably the heir apparent to Kelce at center, the bet here is that he will play guard only in 2021, with Seumalo sliding inside if Kelce goes down, but he'll very likely at least be the first interior guy off the bench, whenever he's a full go.

Luke Juriga

Juriga was a 2020 undrafted rookie free agent center who spent the first three weeks of the season on the practice squad, before being elevated prior to Week 4 to the active roster. He was active for every game thereafter, and actually appeared in 13 games in 2020, mostly on special teams. He got 14 snaps in 3 games with the regular offense, mostly as the sixth lineman Week 17 against the Football Team. 

He was the second-team center during OTAs, and likely will be again in camp, but with Dickerson and Seumalo having ability to play center, Juriga is a longshot to make the final 53.

Ross Pierschbacher

Pierschbacher was a fifth-round pick of the Football Team in 2019 out of Alabama. The Eagles poached him off of Washington's practice squad late in the season last year. Pierschbacher has appeared in eight games over his career, but only has one career snap in the regular offense, which was with the Eagles last year against the Cardinals. It was a magical snap, I'm sure.

Pierschbacher will try to hold off Harry Crider for the right not to be "snap boy." What's "snap boy," you might ask? It's the guy who has to snap the ball during 7-on-7's while the rest of the offensive linemen do 1-on-1 drills. You don't want to be "snap boy."

Harry Crider

Crider got a modest guarantee and signing bonus as an undrafted free agent, and given the number of centers on the roster, he is an extreme longshot to make the final 53. Still, with Dickerson likely not yet being ready to play during camp, the Eagles needed an extra body at center.

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