June 15, 2023
The Philadelphia Eagles currently have eight players who are 30 years of age, or older, plus an additional two players who will turn 30 by the end of the 2023 regular season. The 30-somethings are C Jason Kelce (35), EDGE Brandon Graham (35), RT Lane Johnson (33), DT Fletcher Cox (32), CB Darius Slay (32), DE Matt Leo (31), LS Rick Lovato (30), and P Arryn Siposs (30). CB James Bradberry will turn 30 in August, and QB Marcus Mariota will turn 30 in October.
Six of the players listed above have at least one All-Pro season on their résumés. That's not out of the ordinary. The oldest players on teams are often also the best players, seeing as they've been able to stick in the league long enough to become among the oldest.
Here we'll take a look at what kind of succession plan the Eagles have in place for each of their aging players (oldest first).
• C Jason Kelce (35): The Eagles have had three different succession plans for Kelce, beginning with Isaac Seumalo, followed by Landon Dickerson, and now Cam Jurgens. Seumalo ended up playing in Philly for seven years before moving on this offseason to Pittsburgh, while Dickerson has settled in as a Pro Bowl guard. Jurgens will compete for the starting RG job this offseason, but he remains Kelce's heir apparent at center, should Kelce decide to retire next offseason.
• Edge Brandon Graham (35): The Eagles are loaded on the edge. They have a mix of veteran leadership (Graham), a pair of impact players in their primes (Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat), and a young buck to learn from the rest of the group (Nolan Smith). Assuming Smith shows promise as a rookie, the Eagles will remain in an enviable position on the edge for a while even if this ends up being Graham's last season as an Eagle.
• RT Lane Johnson (33): Johnson is on record as saying that he would like to play two more seasons. The Eagles drafted Tyler Steen, a four-year college starter at tackle, with a high-ish pick (65th overall), however, Steen's future with the team seems likely to be at guard. Otherwise, the team doesn't have a young tackle developing behind the scenes, so it would make sense for the Eagles to select Johnson's eventual replacement with a high pick in the 2024 draft.
• DT Fletcher Cox (32): The Eagles have selected five interior defensive linemen in the draft over the last three years:
• Milton Williams (24), third round, 2021
• Marlon Tuipulotu (23), sixth round, 2021
• Jordan Davis (23), first round, 2022
• Jalen Carter (22), first round, 2023
• Moro Ojomo (21), seventh round, 2023
Davis will be scrutinized some this season after a disappointing rookie season, and expectations will be high for Carter, a player widely considered to be the most talented prospect in the 2023 draft, while Williams should see more snaps with Javon Hargrave leaving for San Francisco. But the Eagles have taken enough bites at the apple at DT that they can probably feel OK about the position, long-term.
• CB Darius Slay (32): The Eagles used a 2024 third-round pick to draft Kelee Ringo, who will have time to develop in the background as an outside corner behind Slay and Bradberry. Otherwise, Zech McPhearson has been waiting his turn as a backup outside corner the last two seasons, but he's already halfway through his rookie contract. If Slay and Bradberry are the starters once again in 2024, McPhearson could be a free agent by the time the Eagles need him to play in the regular defense. And then there's Josh Jobe, who made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2022, as well as some 2023 undrafted guys in Eli Ricks and Mekhi Garner, who also have some talent.
The Eagles have some young players in the pipeline at corner, but for now they're all question marks.
• DE Matt Leo (31): Leo now counts toward the Eagles' 90-man roster after three roster-exempt years in the NFL's International Player Pathway Program. I have no idea if/when the Eagles will be able to trade Leo in for another Australian player, but for now, Leo is still on the roster and could very well stick on the practice squad for another season.
• LS Rick Lovato (30): Long snappers have long shelf lives, but Lovato is actually scheduled to be a free agent next offseason. The Eagles (rightfully) don't like paying long snappers a lot of money, so if some nitwit GM offers Lovato a big contract the Eagles may need to find a new guy to throw the ball between his legs.
• P Arryn Siposs (30): Siposs is battling with undrafted rookie Ty Zentner to keep his punting job this offseason.
• CB James Bradberry (30 in August): See Slay above.
• QB Marcus Mariota (30 in October): The Eagles took a flier in the sixth-round on Tanner McKee. If McKee can show that he is worthy of No. 2 quarterback consideration in 2024 and beyond, then the Eagles will have themselves a very cheap backup for the next three seasons. If not, then the Eagles will have to pay Mariota or some other new No. 2 decent money next offseason.
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