The Philadelphia Eagles are not expected to pick up Andre Dillard’s fifth-year option ahead of the May 2 deadline, according to a report from Jeff McLane.
This development doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Dillard doesn’t currently project to be in the team’s long-term plans. We wrote about the following about the 2019 first-round pick earlier this offseason.
REVIEW: Dillard had a pretty bad training camp. It became clear early on that he was not a serious contender to beat out Jordan Mailata for the starting left tackle job. Dillard was beaten with both speed and power during summer practices. He was flattened to the ground on more than one occasion; twice actually by a Jets journeyman (“Jeremiah Valoaga”) who wasn’t even in the NFL at all this season. It was fair to be concerned, then, about how Dillard might look during real game action. To his credit, Dillard rose above very low expectations by looking competent when filling in at left tackle after Mailata moved to right tackle to temporarily replace Johnson. Dillard did draw some unusually favorable matchups; the Dallas Cowboys were basically missing their offensive line while the Kansas City Chiefs were missing Frank Clark. Still, Dillard didn’t look like a disaster out there, which was certainly a step in the right direction. Dillard’s season did quietly end on a low note considering he was basically a healthy scratch for the team’s playoff appearance. A game in which a starting tackle (Johnson) got hurt and he still didn’t see the field over a journeyman (Le’Raven Clark) because he doesn’t offer any position versatility.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles should really trade Dillard. He’s going to be a free agent after the 2022 season. That is, unless the Eagles pick up his fully guaranteed fifth-year option worth just over $11.6 million. Declining to exercise that option prior to the May 2 deadline should be the no-brainer move. Why pay that much money to a backup left tackle only who turns 27 this year? I could see Howie Roseman trying to justify it by saying the Eagles can never have too much offensive line depth. My counter would be: Howie, you have a very great offensive line coach in Jeff Stoutland. He’s proved time and time again to be able to do more with less. And you’re already rostering a number of developmental offensive linemen. You’re simply not optimizing your resources by spending $11.6 million on a backup. This isn’t to say the Eagles should move Dillard at any cost. If their best offer is a seventh-round pick, for example, they can simply hold on to him for one more year and hope to maybe get a compensatory pick for him after he walks in 2023. But the guess here is there will be a market for Dillard that allows the Eagles to return something like a fourth-round pick. Doing a deal like that, which would clear his $2.2 million base salary in the process, should be acceptable. Dillard simply doesn’t have a future in Philly with Mailata and Johnson locked in to their starting roles for years to come.
It remains to be seen if the Eagles will move Dillard this offseason. One would guess they’d like a Day 2 pick in return for him. Perhaps they can get one as soon as tonight ... but I wouldn't merely count on it. Teams probably want to see what the 2022 NFL Draft has to offer them before revisiting the possibility of a Dillard trade down the road.
Again, Roseman isn’t one to quickly move players for less than his asking price. See the Eagles holding on to Zach Ertz for too long last year as a recent example.
And so, for now, Dillard will probably remain in Philly. But he could still be headed out the door before the upcoming season. He’ll almost certainly be leaving in free agency next March at the very latest.