The Eagles offensive line was a bright spot on a bad offense, but it’s no secret the Eagles need to get younger there. They ended the season with two starters over thirty and a third approaching it. Changes could be coming soon. Jason Kelce’s status with the team in 2017 is in question, as is Allen Barbre’s.
The free agent market for centers is basically non-existent, and the team’s confidence in Isaac Seumalo at center is so good that if the Eagles move on from Kelce it’s a lock that they’ll have Seumalo as the starter in 2017. If they move on from both Kelce and Barbre, they’ll need to add a starting left guard, which they should do in free agency.
The Eagles have already signed two interior linemen with experience, Dallas Thomas started 25 games in 2014 and 2015 for the Dolphins, and Josh LeRibeus started 11 at center for the Redskins in 2015. They’ll compete for backup jobs.
If they bring in a new starter in free agency, they could make it a familiar face, either to the team or to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
The Eagles might not have to go far if they want to get younger at left guard. Wisniewski isn’t young, he’ll be 28 when the season starts, but that’s five years younger than Barbre, and he’s missed just three games in his entire career. Wisniewski took a one year deal with the Eagles to try to spring board to a long term contract somewhere, and that somewhere might be in Philadelphia. He played well as a reserve and spot starter, the team might feel more comfortable with a familiar option. He also gives the Eagles an experienced plan B at center.
If they chose to look outside to find a new left guard in free agency, they’ll have some choices. With free agency still two months away, some of these players won’t be available. But for now, they’re free agents to be.
Widely seen as the top guard in free agency, Zeitler has played on the right side his whole career with the Bengals. The Eagles gave Brandon Brooks the top RG contract last year of 5 years/$40 million with $17 million guaranteed. That’s a benchmark for Zeitler, as guard contracts are increasingly growing.
A 2016 Pro Bowler, Lang might be the second best guard in free agency, and he wants to return to the Packers. If he doesn’t, at 29 he wouldn’t do a whole lot to get the Eagles younger. But he’s played both guard positions and right tackle during his career, so he’s got the versatility that Doug Pederson wants. He can help a contender that needs upgrades, but for as a rebuilding team, the Eagles should look elsewhere.
Zeitler and Lang are probably the top tier of free agent interior linemen. Then it’s a mixed bag of players in the second tier. The market for them was probably set by the Jets’ Brian Winters, who last week received a 4 year/$29 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.
The 2nd overall pick from 2013 is a bust at left tackle, but he wouldn’t be the first failed LT to find a home at another position. But the jury is still out there. The Jaguars moved him to left guard in 2016, but he suffered a season ending knee injury in the fourth game of the season. If the Eagles want to add another reclamation project, he could be a candidate.
Leary’s sure to hit the market, having requested a trade last year, and the Cowboys have the worst salary cap situation in the league and won’t be able to bring him back even if he wanted to return. He lost his starting job to La’el Collins due to injury, then regained it when Collins himself was injured. A desperate team will probably throw money at him.
A disappointment the first three years of his career with the Colts, Thornton came into camp with a new found focus. He never got the chance to realize it. After missing most of August with an ankle injury, he was put on injured reserve during final cuts, ending his season. If the Eagles bring in fired Colts GM Ryan Grigson, who spent nine years working his way up the ladder from regional scout to Director of Player Personnel, he’s someone to keep an eye on.
The right side of the Lions line, Warford and right tackle Riley Reiff, are set to be free agents. If they keep one, it’s most likely Warford, but he seems inclined to test free agency. He’ll be 26 when the season starts and has started all of his 57 games in four seasons, so he should have suitors.
Warmack has started every game he’s played for the Titans after being the 10th overall pick in 2013, but they’re ready to move on. They didn’t pick up his 5th year option last year, and the team was further turned off when he chose to have season ending surgery for a torn tendon in his right hand after two games rather than play through it with a cast. He might be of interest to the Eagles, he played left guard for Jeff Stoutland at Alabama.