According to multiple sources, there is still a possibility for aging fan favorite Jon Runyan to re-sign with the Eagles before the start of training camp. With nineteen days to go, the Pro Bowl right tackle has been rehabbing his knee and building his strength back up, saying that he's not ready to retire and could still start for the Eagles:
"No matter what they did in free agency or moving guys around, [players] are going to get the opportunity to compete for the starting job," Runyan said. "I know me, and I will win that competition."
However, with the way we've upgraded our offensive line, there's very little chance of a 36-year old Runyan starting right off the bat. But, say Shawn Andrews does not transition well to his new right tackle position, or perhaps his back acts up again and he is forced to sit out for a few games, or (god forbid) the entire season. Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole are great backups, but they have more experience as guards than tackles. And would you trust Winston Justice to start opposite Jason Peters for the bulk of the season? I don't think so.
Runyan is large, experienced, and hasn't missed a game in 190 consecutive starts (an NFL record). He can be counted on in a tight spot and his leadership could really help out young developing tackles like King Dunlap and Fenuki Tupou. Andy Reid, normally silent about personnel changes, has already publicly stated last month that he is open to the option:
"Right now, Jon is working his tail off to recover from that knee," Reid said. "I know he wants to play, and we’ll see how things work out down the road."
There are only two forseeable issues to inviting Big Jon to training camp:
- Runyan's spot will need to be cleared out by another player. This means letting go of a young and promising player who might be able to develop if given more time. While Winston Justice will not be a likely candidate, the Eagles could part with young linemen Chris Patrick or Mike Gibson, who have yet to contribute during their short time in Philadelphia. Also up for cutting are rookie free agents such as WR Marcus Thigpen and CB Courtney Robinson, both of whom currently occupy very, very deep positions on our roster. See my article on RFA's for more information.
- Runyan will have to accept playing as a backup. While this will likely be a difficult mental transition for a former all-star tackle, Runyan will need to come into Philadelphia with the understanding that, barring an injury, the starting job is not likely to be his come the regular season. This will likely also mean a decrease in pay, so Runyan will have to choose between money and his love of the game. His age and injured status makes it very doubtful that he will receive any offers from other teams during his time as a free agent, so the Eagles hypothetical offer might look appealing.