The SB Nation NFL team sites will be doing theme weeks all throughout the 2017 NFL season. This week’s theme is: “What's the one trade you would make right now?”
The Philadelphia Eagles received terrible news on Tuesday when MRI results revealed Jason Peters tore his MCL and ACL. The future Hall of Fame left tackle is out for the season.
So what will the Eagles do now? Though it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it sounds like the plan is to start Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle while keeping Lane Johnson at his usual position on the right side.
The Eagles seem to like Big V. They probably wouldn’t have traded away both Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin if they didn’t have some level of confidence in him.
But has Vaitai proven himself to the point where the Eagles shouldn’t even consider external options? I wouldn’t say so.
With that in mind, here are some offensive tackles the Eagles could acquire via trade. The 2017 NFL trade deadline is set for next Tuesday, October 31 at 4:00 PM ET. The deadline is usually quiet but Howie Roseman is the most active executive in the league when it comes to trades, so you can’t rule it out.
Our friends over at Buffalo Rumblings think the Bills are a prime trade partner with the Eagles, and not just because the two teams already made a trade this summer: Ronald Darby for Jordan Matthews. (And not just because the Eagles traded with Buffalo to get Peters, either.)
Buffalo has a glut of tackles. While most teams keep three or four on the roster, Buffalo has five. If the injury is significant enough that the Eagles don’t think Peters can return to form this season or maybe ever, they could potentially swing a game-breaking trade for Cordy Glenn.
Glenn has a major contract and rookie Dion Dawkins filled in when Glenn was sidelined with an injury. Buffalo’s handling of Glenn suggests they’d be willing to part with him for the right compensation and he’s the cornerstone Philadelphia could build on.
The 28-year-old Glenn would be an immediate replacement for Peters. He has plenty of experience at left tackle thanks to his 75 career starts at the position.
The complication with Glenn is that he carries big cap hits over the next several seasons. As shown by via Over The Cap:
The Eagles, who currently only have $6.9 million in cap space, are projected to have only $6.1 million in 2018. That amount ranks third fewest in the league. And the Eagles have quite a few key players set to be unrestricted free agents that they’ll have to pay to keep around (Tim Jernigan, Alshon Jeffery, Nigel Bradham, etc.) Trading for Glenn could limit who the Eagles could re-sign. It could also cost a significant draft pick to get him. Philadelphia currently doesn’t own a pick in Round 2 or 3.
Another complication in trading for Glenn, or any established veteran, is the Eagles might hope Peters, who is close friends with owner Jeffrey Lurie, can come back next season. Philly might not be looking to make a long-term commitment at left tackle. Or maybe they are if they feel like Peters might just retire. It’s a complicated situation.
In short, I don’t think Glenn is a convenient option for the Eagles.
I think this might be the Eagles’ best bet.
Henderson has started 26 games over three seasons after being undrafted in 2014. The 25-year-old blocker would’ve played more if not for missing games due to Crohn’s disease. Henderson was suspended for four games in 2015 and 10 games in 2016-2017 combined due to the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but Henderson claimed he was using marijuana to deal with the pain from his disease.
Henderson returned to the Bills’ roster earlier this month after being suspended for the first five games of the season. He’s fallen behind on the depth chart in the mean time.
Henderson, who has experience at both left and right tackle, shouldn’t be too expensive to acquire. Maybe the Eagles can get him for their sixth-round selections. The Eagles have two fifth-rounders.
It’s also worth noting Henderson’s cap number is a mere $778,816 for this season. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, which means the Eagles don’t have to make a long-term commitment to him.
Henderson isn’t some great player. He’s also played more on the right side than the left, so he might not be a direct replacement for Peters. But at 6-7, 335 pounds, he has the type of size the Eagles like in their linemen.
Yet another factor to consider here is that Jeff Stoutland was the offensive line coach (and later interim head coach) at Miami when Henderson made nine starts as a true freshman in 2010. We all know Stout likes his former college players (see: Chance Warmack).
Another Bills offensive lineman. Mills has made 56 career starts at right tackle. He only has a $1.65 million cap hit this year. He’s signed through 2018 but he’s easily cuttable after this season. Mills currently ranks 40th out of 74 offensive tackles graded by Pro Football Focus this year, for what it’s worth. For reference, Vaitai is 57th. Mills could be another inexpensive option for the Birds.
Here’s a big name of interest. The Texans’ starting left tackle recently returned to the team after staging a holdout that lasted six games into the season. There’s a belief Brown could be traded, but I don’t think he’s a great option for the Eagles. He’s been away from football for quite some time now and giving up a valuable asset for a 32-year-old who has had some injury issues recently doesn’t seem like the best idea. Not to mention his desire for more money. Plus the Texans might just want to keep him since they’re in contention for the AFC South title.
Staley would be a great replacement for Peters. Except that he’s 33 years old and he has a $11 million cap number in 2017. The 0-7 49ers might be willing to deal Staley since they’re rebuilding. They wouldn’t move him before San Francisco plays Philly this week, though.
This is obviously a post about trades, but I’d be remiss not to mention some free agent options. Branden Albert is a big name and he has experience with Doug Pederson from Kansas City but NFL insider Adam Caplan reports the Eagles don’t seem to have interest in him. Cyrus Kouandjio has a connection to Stoutland thanks to playing at Alabama. Will Beatty is also still out there, but bleh. As you can see, this is slim pickings.
WHAT THE EAGLES SHOULD DO
I think the Eagles should give Big V a chance and see how he does this weekend against the 49ers. If he’s an absolute disaster, the Eagles probably need to make a move. At 6-1, they’re in position to contend this year. That doesn’t mean they need to sell the farm, but they have a great opportunity in front of them right now. They might need to get a little more aggressive than they’d usually be. Henderson still seems like the best bet to me with respect to cost and ability. Even if Vaitai plays well enough to hold the starting job, it wouldn’t hurt to have Henderson as a backup.