Absolutely devastating headlines circled the Eagles news wire late Monday night as three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks announced he tore his Achilles and will miss the 2020 season:
So I guess now that news is out yes I tore my other Achilles but when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. I’ll be back and better than ever. Appreciate the love ✊🏽
— Brandon Brooks (@bbrooks_79) June 15, 2020
It’s not the same Achilles that he tore in the playoff game versus the Saints in 2019.
This is a huge blow to the Eagles offensive line, but the silver lining is that it’s still only June. There is plenty of time to sign a free agent acquisition or get an in-house replacement up to speed. Who are the options out there? Let’s take a look at the best available:
The most obvious choice is Matt Pryor.
Pryor is entering his third year in the league after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was drafted as a tackle but was moved to guard. He replaced Brooks in the playoff game versus the Seahawks in January when Brooks dislocated his shoulder.
In that playoff game, he played 69 (nice) snaps, allowing three pressures and one sack. Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th out of 25 guards that weekend.
During the season, Pryor played a total of 76 offensive snaps in 12 games, but 42 and 35 came in two different games. In the 12 games, he played in 48 special teams stats.
The fact that he has been in the system for two years should give him a leg up on the competition. However, Pryor’s RAS was absolutely awful and only had a decent score in the three-cone drill. He scored poorly in every other athletic test. He’ll need to improve his athleticism to be able to fit in the Eagles scheme long term.
He also wears #69. Nice.
In a somewhat surprising move, the Saints cut three-time Pro Bowl guard Larry Warford. In his three years with the Saints, he made three Pro Bowls and only missed four games.
He earned the highest Pro Football Focus grade of his career this past season with a score of 75.8 and was a top 25 guard in each season with the Saints. Since being drafted in 2013, he ranks as PFF’s 30th best guard out of 82 qualifying players.
He also only allowed 32 pressures on 601 pass-blocking snaps, which gives him a 97.1 pass-blocking score from PFF. He did have a rough game in the playoffs, but he offers an elite replacement option.
Warford also turns 29 on Wednesday June 18th.
If you’re looking for someone with connections to new Eagles coaches, Ronald Leary is your guy.
Leary is coming off a 12 game season with Denver, where Rich Scangarello was offensive coordinator. But that’s really where the attraction as an option should end.
In his eight-year career, he has only played 16 games once and he’s played 29 total games in his three years with the Broncos. In his five years with Dallas, he played 48 games out of a possible 80.
Another connection to Scangarello is Mike Person. Scnagarello was the quarterbacks coach for the 49ers in 2018, Person’s first year with the team. In 2018, Person played 95% of the offensive snaps and played 88% of the snaps in 2019.
In three of his last four seasons, he’s had a pass-blocking grade of 70+. He was also once considered as one of the best centers in the NFL. That kind of versatility would be welcomed on the Eagles.
Once regarded as one of the best pass-blocking guards in the league, Josh Kline has dipped a bit in terms of production.
After having a pass-blocking grade of 97.4 in 2017, his production went downhill in 2018 with the Titans and in his lone year with the Vikings in 2019. He has the pedigree of playing at a high level and could be worth a one year deal to see if Jeff Stoutland can bring him back to that level.
A long shot option is retired guard Kyle Long. Yes, he is the brother of former Eagles defensive end Chris Long.
He retired at the end of the season after ending the season on IR. He ended each of the last four seasons on IR after starting off his career with three straight Pro Bowl appearances.
However despite retiring, Long has stated he got “fired”:
I didn’t retire I got fired. I will know with conviction whether I’m done for good or not in the next few weeks. Full transparency I miss football but at what cost 😂😂🙏🏼 I’m most likely gonna be on golf courses instead of gridiron’s https://t.co/qmNbTEeTHk
— KyleLong.ETH (@Ky1eLong) June 15, 2020
He has been adamant on Twitter that he would not return to the Bears under the current staff, so does that mean he would return to a different team?
The Bears released his rights in March, so the Eagles would not need to trade for him. Could the Eagles go two for two on Long signings turning into Super Bowl-winning moves?
Last July, Jason Peters said he’s open to playing guard if that meant extending his career: “As long as I can do it, I’m going to go. Whether that’s tackle or guard, I can play all the way across the board.”
Here’s his chance. Although the Eagles let his explore his options at the start of free agency, the nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro hasn’t found a home. He has stayed in contact with the Eagles, however, so the opportunity for a reunion is there.
There are two options with a reunion: line him up in Brooks’ spot and allow him to play next to Lane Johnson or move Seumalo to RG and have Peters play next to his replacement at LT.
Either option provides the Eagles with someone who knows the system in and out and would allow further development of players like Pryor, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, and Sua Opeta.
Eagles fans may be depressed by the news, but it’s still the middle of June and there’s plenty of time to find an adequate replacement.
Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports