Now that the offseason has officially started for the Eagles, Andy Reid and company will have to spend the next couple of weeks carefully scrutinizing the 2010 roster. The free agency signing period begins in a little over a month and a half and by that time, the front office should have a good idea of which Eagles players they'll want to bring back for the 2011 season (if there is one). Today, BGN takes a look at the offensive tackle position.
Jason Peters: After two years with the Eagles, Peters will be headed to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl at the end of this month. While he did start out the season with his usual plethora of false start penalties, Peters managed to clean up his performance towards the end of the season and solidify his position on the line. As one of the few stable performers on the team's Swiss cheese offensive line, Peters looks likely to play out the next four years of his contract in midnight green.
Winston Justice: Justice's sub-par season ended with an embarrassing benching during the fourth quarter of the Eagles' Wild Card loss to the Packers. While he was a nice comeback story last year, transitioning from fringe roster player to starter, Justice is starting to send a strong message that he is simply not cut out to play tackle on a starting level. He still has three years left on his $21 million contract, but could be used as trade bait as the Eagles try to upgrade their weaker positions. When you're part of an offensive line that gives up 95 QB hits (3rd most in NFL) and 35 sacks (4th most) in a season, the blame starts with your blindside blocker and, in this case, that's Justice. Don't expect to see him return as a starter in 2011.
King Dunlap: The 6'8" behemoth out of Auburn has yet to impress in his limited time on the field - many times being a liability. He has one year left on his rookie contract and will fight for a reserve role during training camp.
Austin Howard: Beginning during the Eagles' 2010 training camp, Howard was plagued with a back injury for the better part of the season. He was only active for four games, but did get the start against the Cowboys in week 17. He'll have a chance to show more of his stuff during this upcoming training camp as he still has two years left on his rookie deal.
Fenuki Tupou: Much like his fellow 2009 draftee Cornelius Ingram, Tupou has hopped on and off the Eagles roster enough times to make his head spin. He'll be a long shot to make the roster next year unless he shows an improvement in his pass blocking skills during training camp.
Who Could Leave
Winston Justice, King Dunlap
Who Could Sign
Jermon Bushrod is a talented young tackle who was a key part of the Saints offensive line during their Super Bowl season last year. Currently, 2010 second-round pick Charles Brown is looking like the likely successor to Bushrod's throne, so it's possible that the Saints could let the Towson product walk.
While he spent the 2010 season on injured reserve with a torn ACL, Willie Colon was considered by some to be the Steelers' best blocker in 2009. Although a bit undersized at only 6'3", the 27 year old Colon still has plenty left in the tank and will be looking at free agency if Pittsburgh doesn't re-sign him.
Although on the wrong side of 30, three-time Pro Bowler Matt Light has a good chance of hitting the free agent market this offseason if the Patriots decide to go with their younger options. Light has been to three Super Bowl championships with New England and is unparalleled in his run blocking ability. He may draw the occasional penalty, but the leadership and strength he would bring to the offensive line far outweighs any drawback.