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7 free agent guard options for the Eagles following Brandon Brooks’ injury

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Philly might be able to find outside help.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With Brandon Brooks already out for the 2020 NFL season (UGH), the Philadelphia Eagles are going to need a new starting right guard. The team has some internal options to consider — and we’ll take a closer look at those soon here at Bleeding Green Nation — but for now let’s focus on the free agent market.

JASON PETERS

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn, who was first to report the Brooks news, said back in late April that “it’s only a matter of time” before the Eagles re-sign Peters. An early May report indicated the Eagles were speaking with Peters about returning. There hasn’t been much of an update on that front since.

Perhaps now the Eagles will be more aggressive about re-signing Peters with an effort to have him play right guard instead of tackle. But while that could be ideal, I just don’t see it happening. JP has been very insistent that he’s still capable of playing left tackle at a high level. I won’t believe the 38-year-old is playing guard until I actually see it happen.

LARRY WARFORD

Warford, who’s exclusively played at right guard in the NFL, has some noteworthy connections to Philly. He was drafted by Jim Schwartz’s Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Current Eagles director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant Jeremiah Washburn was Warford’s offensive line coach from 2013 through 2015. Warford was named to the PWFA’s All-Rookie team and earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors from Pro Football Focus under Washburn’s guidance.

Warford departed Detroit to sign with the New Orleans Saints in 2017. He had three straight Pro Bowl seasons prior to being released earlier this year. Canal Street Chronicles cited Warford’s lack of versatility among other reasons when writing about why he was released:

The selection of Cesar Ruiz in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft made it clear the Saints were looking for an upgrade on the interior, and this confirms it. There had been rumors coach Sean Payton and his staff were unhappy with Warford’s performance, after he allowed a team-high 32 pressures in 2019. And then Payton came out and said Warford would have to “compete” for a starting job in an interview after the first round of the draft. [...] This move creates over $7 million of cap space.

Still, Warford graded 30th out of 89 guards graded by PFF in 2019. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has played at least 13 games in each of his seven seasons. He could be worth a look to fill Brooks’ absence.

RONALD LEARY

Leary overlapped with current Eagles senior offensive assistant and former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello in Denver last season. Leary made 12 starts at right guard before missing the final four games due to injury.

Leary is on the older side; he turned 31 in April. But there’s indication he’s still getting it done considering he was PFF’s 18th best graded guard in 2019.

Leary has dealt with injury issues in the past, including an Achilles tear that limited him to six games in 2018. Still, with 77 career starts under his belt, the Eagles should check in on him. Then again, they haven’t exactly had the best luck with former Dallas Cowboys players!

MIKE PERSON

Hat tip to @igglesnut for pointing out that Mike Person overlapped with the aforementioned Scangarello on the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and the San Francisco 49ers in 2018. Person logged 30 starts at right guard for the Niners over the past two seasons. He was PFF’s 57th graded guard in 2019. The soon-to-be 32-year-old also has experience playing center.

I don’t know that Person represents a clear upgrade on the Eagles’ internal options but they could add him for more competition if he comes cheap.

KYLE LONG

Here’s a somewhat creative idea for the Eagles to consider.

Long announced he was stepping away from football in January before the Chicago Bears declined his 2020 option, thus making him a free agent. A recent report indicated the New York Jets reached out to Long but he denied as much.

It’s very possible the 31-year-old Long is done playing in the NFL. But maybe his older brother, Chris, can put in a good word on the Eagles’ behalf?

Multiple injury issues have limited Long to playing just 30 out of 64 possible games over the last four seasons. That’s a big issue. The Eagles would be really hoping Long could rebound to form that saw him earn three straight Pro Bowl berths earlier in his career.

Worth a call but not the most ideal option.

JOSH KLINE

It once looked like the Eagles were going to receive Kline in the trade that sent Eric Rowe to the New England Patriots but he ended up not being included after all. Maybe it was the Pats who wanted to include him as a throw in and the Eagles weren’t interested? In case they did have some interest in Kline, I thought I’d include him here.

Kline was PFF’s 52nd ranked guard in 2019. The 30-year-old has only missed five games over the past four seasons combined.

LAADRIAN WADDLE

I’ve previously written about Waddle as a potential free agent target. He’s mostly played tackle in the NFL but he has guard experience from college.

The Eagles could at least afford to add some more depth at offensive tackle. The team drafted Jack Driscoll and Prince Tega Wanogho but there are concerns to consider. Driscoll might be better suited to play interior offensive line in the NFL. PTW, meanwhile, fell in the draft due to a knee injury. The other guy in the mix to be the Eagles’ swing tackle is Jordan Mailata, who is undoubtedly intriguing but also finished his first two NFL seasons on injured reserve.

Waddle, 28, has tackle/guard versatility and 31 starts in 61 games played. Eight of those starts came as an undrafted rookie on Jim Schwartz’s Lions in 2013. Sign him to a minimum deal for veteran depth and cut him if the young guys beat him out.


VERDICT

Warford seems like the best option to me. He checks boxes when it comes to familiarity, durability, experience, and accomplishments. If his price tag isn’t team-friendly, the Eagles could look to Leary or Person.

Given the options out there, methinks the Eagles shouldn’t just sit tight with their internal options. They should sign someone to at least compete for Brooks’ spot. Protecting Carson Wentz isn’t an area to cheap out on.

Poll

Who should the Eagles sign to play right guard?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Jason Peters
    (1122 votes)
  • 47%
    Larry Warford
    (1942 votes)
  • 3%
    Ronald Leary
    (147 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Person
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    Kyle Long
    (372 votes)
  • 0%
    Josh Kline
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    LaAdrian Waddle
    (57 votes)
  • 10%
    No one - stick with internal options
    (423 votes)
4101 votes total Vote Now