The Eagles offensive line is one bad decision and one misstep away from being in a ton of trouble. If right tackle Lane Johnson makes another questionable decision, his career as an Eagle could be over. Another violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs will sideline him for two full seasons. But the franchise lineman proved in the final weeks of the season just how important he was to the offense’s success. Whether it was playing against teams that already secured a playoff spot or not, Johnson showcased that the team plays differently when he is present on the offensive line.
Opposite Johnson,at left tackle, is The Bodyguard. Jason Peters is 35 years old and entering his 15th season in the NFL. Peters looked to be on his last legs under head coach Chip Kelly and an offense that ran plays at a dizzying pace. However, with a slowed down offense, Peters looked better. There is no beating age, though and Peters is likely entering one of his final seasons with the Eagles. After the 2017 season, Peters’ cap hit is only $1 million if the Eagles decide to release him. It is likely that Peters will be stepping off under his own terms, though, with his next stop likely being in Canton.
When Peters decides to call it quits or the Eagles decide to part ways, Johnson will be the new left tackle. The Eagles do not have a sure-fire player to step into Johnson’s position. Currently, Halapoulivaati Vaitai would be the man to step in. After a disturbingly bad first two weeks as a starter, Big V turned it around and was serviceable as Johnson’s fill-in. The tackle position is one that could be addressed late in the draft or with a veteran free agent.
The Eagles are in pretty good position at guard with Brandon Brooks and a combination of Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski as the starters, Matt Tobin and Allen Barbre, among others, provide more than serviceable backups. Brooks missed two games in 2016 due to Anxiety but has since opened up about his disorder and is seeing a sports psychologist to help keep combat The problem is that both Wisniewski (who is looking for a long-term contract) and Barbre (who could be suspect of the projected cap purge) may not be in the Eagles long-term plans..opening up a hole with huge potential.
The Eagles have a decision to make at the center position. Jason Kelce made the Pro Bowl in 2016 off of name recognition and as a replacement for Atlanta’s Alex Mack. While Kelce was a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, he does not fit in as perfectly with Pederson’s scheme. At most times through 2016, Kelce looked outweighed and overmatched. He is still one of the best in the league when he is in space and leading on a screen or pulling on an outside run. He has the speed and agility to be outstanding in the open field..but will that athleticism and chemistry with Carson Wentz be enough to secure his long-term future in philly?
With a $2.4 million dead cap hit and Josh Andrews among others in the wings, eagerly awaiting a starting position, the Eagles can save $13.4 million over the next two seasons by releasing Kelce.
The reason the priority level is high for the offensive line mostly circulates around the tackles. There is uncertainty both for the future and the immediate if the Eagles face any injuries. The Eagles need to address the tackle position in this offseason, at least for a temporary solution.
With the cap-purge projected to start any time now, the Eagles have to be ready to take a hit at a position that became a stunning strength in 2016. How they respond to that hit will arguably define how successful the Offense and especially rushing attack is able to operate in the depths of 2017.
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