The Philadelphia Eagles unofficially released offensive guard Todd Herremans on Thursday. The actual transaction still isn't official yet but it is expected to happen soon. In any case, he's gone, and here's a look at what this move means for the team going forward.
Tough, but necessary goodbye
It wasn't a total surprise to see Herremans cut but I thought the Eagles might give him one more year. Herremans can still play but he's been declining in recent years. For what it's worth, Herremans ranked 57th out of 78 guards on Pro Football Focus last season. He was 23rd out of 81 in 2013, but his pass blocking ranked third to last. Herremans will turn 33 in October so it was time to part ways.
Herremans' longevity can't be understated. He had been a fixture on the Eagles offensive line since 2005. He was a reliable starter for many years and his versatility to play four out of five offensive line positions was very valuable. He gave Philadelphia everything he had. The Eagles did the right thing by releasing him before free agency starts in order to give him extra time to find a new job.
Where will Herremans land?
Eagles fans would prefer he doesn't end up in the NFC East. Out of the NFC entirely would be most ideal. And perhaps that could happen. If Andy Reid is willing to reunite with Mike McGlynn in Kansas City, I can't see why he wouldn't welcome back Herremans. If not the Chiefs, perhaps former Eagles executive and now-Colts GM Ryan Grigson would have interest.
The Eagles save $2.8 million in cap space by releasing Herremans. He had a cap figure of $5.2 million heading into 2015 so there is $2.4 million left in dead money. Philadelphia now has about over $27 million to work with in cap room, which ranks about 14th most in the NFL. More cap causalities such as Cary Williams and/or DeMeco Ryans could still take place. The Eagles are also talking about a potential restructure for Trent Cole. Releasing Herremans potentially frees up a little more money for the Eagles to re-sign Jeremy Maclin, give extensions to their own young players, and/or sign free agents.
External replacement options
Mike Kaye reviewed 10 potential options to replace Herremans: five players in the 2015 NFL Draft and five players in free agency. The draft makes more sense because the Eagles don't necessarily need to spend big money on a free agent starter.
Internal replace options
If the Eagles had to play a game today, their offensive line would probably look like this:
Left tackle - Jason Peters
Left guard - Evan Mathis
Center - Jason Kelce
Right guard - Allen Barbre
Right tackle - Lane Johnson
Barbre, who turns 31 in June, currently figures to take over for Herremans. The Eagles have trusted him as their top backup off the bench at every offensive line position (excluding center) the past two seasons. He has low mileage since he's only made eight starts in 49 career games over eight seasons. I imagine he's the kind of player the Eagles would ideally look to upgrade, but if they can't, they would be OK with having to start him in the short-term.
Behind Barbre, both Andrew Gardner and Matt Tobin are still under contract. The 25-year-old Tobin has his fair share of detractors given the way he struggled in 2014 but consider it was his first playing experience and he may not have been fully healthy after suffering a bad high-ankle injury late in the preseason. By comparison, Barbre suffered a high-ankle injury in Week 1 and had to be put on injured reserve. Also note that Tobin transitioned from tackle to guard in the offseason. Tobin was very good in the 2014 preseason; he ranked first overall out of all NFL guards by Pro Football Focus. I know that the team was high on him heading into last season. It may turn out that the Tobin just might not be good, so the Eagles shouldn't plan on counting on him, but they shouldn't completely rule him out either.
As for Gardner, he probably isn't much than a backup. He turns 29 in April. The Eagles kept rookie undrafted free agent offensive lineman Josh Andrews on the practice squad all year so he could be in the mix as a long shot. His ability to play both guard and center could help his chances.
The Eagles don't necessarily have to sign or draft an immediate starter, though they easily could.
Remembering the good times
Upon the news of his release, a number of reporters expressed how it was a pleasure to cover Herremans.
On a personal level, I'll never forget Todd because he was the first player I ever interviewed. I remember being a little nervous to talk to him, and I think he could sense that, but he was really cool and made things easy. He does good work through The Todd Herremans Foundation so definitely go check that out.
I'll also never forget the beast of a receiver that he was. Herremans finished his career with two receptions for touchdown catches. It was fun to see Andy Reid use him in those tackle-eligible red-zone plays.
He'll certainly be missed in Philadelphia. Here's to you, Toddfather.