But even before Dillard strained his right knee last week, it was clear that [Jordan] Mailata had a firm grasp on the position. The word had increasingly gotten out around the NFL as teams, directly or not, inquired about Dillard’s availability, per league sources.
Considering a deal hasn’t yet been done, one would think the offers haven’t been close to the Eagles’ liking. Or Howie Roseman won’t admit defeat on his 2019 first-round pick that he traded up for.
But the feeling here is that the Eagles should be looking to get what they can for Dillard. Admittedly, the return offers aren’t great. The Carolina Panthers only received a 2022 seventh-round pick in exchange for recently shipping out Greg Little to the Miami Dolphins. Little shares similarities with Dillard in that they’re both high picks from the 2019 NFL Draft (No. 36 and No. 22, respectively) and they’ve both really struggled thus far.
Some have suggested it’s too soon to give up on Dillard. That he actually did show some encouraging potential during his rookie season.
All evidence points to the contrary. Consider what Pro Football Focus once wrote about Dillard:
Dillard was limited to reserve work when Jason Peters or Lane Johnson went down because of injury, and that was a good thing for Carson Wentz based on how he graded. He allowed a pressure rate of 14.7%, higher than any other tackle in the NFL.
And this from Football Outsiders:
Dillard blew 7.8% of his combined pass and run blocks, the worst rate among offensive linemen with 300 or more snaps.
Not into numbers? Try revisiting this film study from Jimmy Kempski.
Dillard then struggled in last year’s training camp — he was nearly pancaked into the back of Wentz’s legs by Joe Ostman at one point — before suffering a season-ending biceps injury. Dillard entered this year’s training camp in a competition for the starting left tackle spot but he was thoroughly outplayed by Mailata before suffering a knee injury.that
Quite frankly, Dillard doesn’t deserve to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster based on merit. One can’t say with confidence that he’s truly the team’s best option at backup left tackle. And it’s not like he offers versatility to play other positions.
Thus, the Eagles should really take the L on Dillard and just move on. It’s not like this is a super young player who still needs time to figure things out; Dillard already turns 26 in October. Keeping him around is probably just going to result in the team inevitably cutting him next year. Wouldn’t you prefer the Eagles to at least get something now as opposed to nothing later?
Though they may be relatively small, there are multiple benefits to a Dillard trade.
- Receiving a late-round draft pick. Late picks are lottery tickets. They’re far from sure bets but, hey, sometimes you find a diamond in the rough ... like Mailata!
- Clearing cap space. The Eagles won’t be on the hook for Dillard’s $1.62 million salary if they trade him. It’s not a huge amount of cap space but it’s preferable to roll that over to next year than wasting it on a player who’s likely to struggle.
- Opening up a roster spot. Again, I find it hard to believe Dillard is one of the best 53 players the Eagles can keep. And due to his injury, they might have to carry him on the original 53 just to then put him on injured reserve if they want him to return this year. That’s a roster spot that could go to a player the Eagles might otherwise lose on waivers.
Of course, a question to consider when it comes to trading Dillard is: who’s the backup left tackle behind Mailata?
It’s possible that Brett Toth could step up into that role. The Eagles seem to like his potential and he’ll get two more preseason games to show what he’s capable of. For what it’s worth, Toth is PFF’s 17th highest graded offensive tackle this summer. (Side note: Former Eagles draft pick Prince Tega Wanogho is first overall.)
Le’Raven Clark was recently activated from the active/PUP list. The veteran locker might be a solid option considering his previous starting experience (15 games).
At the very least, it’s hard to believe that Toth and Clark are significantly worse than Dillard. They might very well be better.
And so it really is time for the Eagles to get what they can for Dillard while they still can. That there are teams calling about him indicates he has some kind of value.
Should the Eagles trade Andre Dillard?
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