The 2016 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and new head coach Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2015 roster. The team went 7-9 last season and improvement is clearly needed. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 9, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2016 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the offensive tackle position.
Numbers: 784 snaps, 13th best graded OT by PFF out of 76, 7 penalties, 5 sacks allowed, 7 hits allowed, 11 hurries allowed
Review: Despite only missing two starts, Peters sat out for quite a few snaps due to injury in 2015. He was in and out of the lineup throughout the season. Peters reportedly has a degenerative condition so that certainly doesn't bode well for his future. Peters deserves credit for being tough and playing through injury, but some might question his decision to reportedly pull himself from games.
It doesn't seem like Peters think he's fallen off at all. He went on a social media rant after not being named to the All-Pro team. Maybe Peters has a point. If PFF grades are any indication, which they may not be, Peters was still a good player last season. It's certainly hard to say Peters was his usual self, though. He got beat more often than people are used to seeing.
The inevitable decline of Peters is an unfortunate one. He's a Hall of Fame talent and a freak athlete. The Eagles seem to think they can get at least one more season out of him. Maybe Peters could benefit from a relaxed practice schedule and slower offensive pace, which is possible now that Chip Kelly is gone.
Numbers: 1191 snaps, 25th best graded OT by PFF out of 76 (10th best RT), 11 penalties, 6 sacks allowed, 6 hits allowed, 16 hurries allowed
Review: Johnson didn't miss any starts despite playing through a lot of injuries. He also had to start two games at left tackle after Peters went down. Johnson did a good job of shutting Greg Hardy down in one start at left tackle but he struggled in the Miami game.
Penalties were a huge problem with Johnson in 2015. Nine of his 11 were pre-snap issues. He needs to be more disciplined and cut down on those.
The Eagles signed Johnson to a long-term contract extension after the season. It's clear they view him as their left tackle of the future. He's the best player on an offensive line that's looking awfully shaky.
Numbers: 276 snaps, 61 best graded OT by PFF out of 142, 3 penalties, 4 sacks allowed, 0 hits allowed, 14 hurries allowed
Review: Kelly was forced into action a number of times due to Peters leaving the lineup. Kelly played most of his snaps at right tackle. He also played a fair share of snaps at right guard. Kelly graded out well as a run blocker but he majorly struggled as a pass blocker. He got tossed around too easily at times.
Review: The Eagles signed Hawkinson away from the 49ers' practice squad to their active roster in October. He never really played so the team essentially stashed him. Maybe he can compete for a backup spot.
Signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent and spent the entire season on the practice squad.
Who Could Leave
Peters is due over $9.7 million in 2016. He can be cut for a savings of $6.7 million in cap space. It doesn't seem like the team is ready to move on from Peters, however. Doug Pederson said he wants Peters back. Johnson's recent comments also seem to indicate Peters is going to be back.
Johnson recently received a contract extension so he'll be around for years to come.
Kelly and Hawkinson will stick around as practice bodies fighting for roster spots.
Who Could Sign
The Eagles seem committed to Peters and Johnson so they won't be signing anyone big in free agency. Maybe a flier on a backup swing tackle if anything.
NFL Draft Options
Peters and Johnson might be the tackles of the present, but Johnson will replace Peters at some point. Peters will be 34 years old after this season so the team needs to start thinking about the future of the right tackle position. Drafting a guard who can eventually kick out to tackle would be ideal for the Eagles. Laremy Tunsil is the top tackle in the 2016 NFL Draft and the Eagles won't have a shot at him. Ronnie Stanley, Cody Whitehair, and Jason Spriggs are prospects the Eagles could be interested in.