After going through an injury-riddled 2019 season, Eagles fans assumed that 2020 could be a much healthier season. With Brandon Brooks suffering an achilles tear yesterday, it is already starting to feel like deja vu for the Philadelphia faithful.
Now the Eagles need to figure out what they will do at the right guard. Replacing the best guard in football isn't going to be easy. In fact, the Eagles have yet to win a game without Brandon Brooks since his arrival in 2016.
There are quite a few different routes the Birds could take to address the problem that now faces them:
Allow Matt Pryor a Chance to Prove Himself
Pryor was a 6th round pick of the team back in 2018, with the hope that he could eventually develop into a reliable backup or maybe even a starter at some point. Now is the perfect opportunity to see what the 25-year-old has to offer.
So far he has only appeared in 12 games, playing just 79 offensive snaps in the regular season. He got his big break when Brandon Brooks went down with a shoulder injury in Week 17 this past season, as it allowed him to get his first-ever start in the NFL, which came in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. He didn't really impress in that game, but it's hard to judge a guy being thrown into the fire without really getting his feet wet. If training camps are allowed to happen as they normally would next month, Pryor will need to prove to the coaching staff that he belongs.
If Pryor ends up not being the answer, the only other players curretly on the roster who could compete for the starting job are Jack Driscoll (2020 4th round pick), Nate Herbig (2019 UDFA), and Sua Opeta (2019 UDFA).
Sign Jason Peters and Jumble the O-Line Around
Peters hasn't been shy about his desire to play in 2020 and come back to the Eagles. So far it seems like the only thing previously stopping a reunion is a difference in salary opinions. The ball might now be in Peters' court (if he agrees to move to another position). For years it seems like there have been rumors about moving Peters inside from left tackle to left guard, but now that could become a reality. This could end up being a huge benefit for Andre Dillard, who will now have a future Hall-of-Famer left tackle right by his side every play and could give him some pointers. Although since Peters has never played left guard himself, he might be the one who will need some pointers while out on the field.
Even though Isaac Seumalo was pretty solid at left guard in 2019, a possible signing of Peters would lead to him being shifted over the right guard for one season. In his rookie season Seumalo had a chance to take at least one snap at every single offensive line position, so it shouldn't be too hard of a transition to right guard if Doug Pederson and Jeff Stoutland both agree this is the best decision for the team in 2020.
Sign a Proven Veteran
There are quite a few free agent options available for the Eagles to bring in, some of them are actually quality players too:
•Larry Warford was released by the Saints in May and remains a free agent. He has made the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons as a right guard. Warford, who will turn 29 on June 18th
•Kyle Long, brother of former Eagle Chris Long, announced his intentions to retire earlier this offseason, but has recently stated he misses football but would only come back at a certain cost. Long has experiences all over the offensive line, including plenty of snaps at right guard. He has made three Pro Bowls in his seven seasons, but hasn't played a full season since 2015.
•Ronald Leary was a part of the famous Dallas Cowboys offenisve line of the mid-2010s, although his best play came at left guard. He does have experience at right guard in the NFL, but at 31 years old his best days are likely behind him. Still, he might have one more year left in him where he can be a plug for the massive hole at right guard.
The biggest problem with this option (as well as the Jason Peters option) is that it will cost them some cap space to sign a veteran like the previously mentioned guys. Warford is believed to be asking for $7 Million/year, and Peters has been asking for a few million as well. Long has made it sound like he would only return if the money was right, and it's unclear if Leary will also have a high asking price. The Eagles have some cap space issues coming up in 2021, and with the pandemic causing revenue loss for the league, there is a good chance the salary cap decreases in 2021. That is why the Eagles would have liked to have rolled over as much of the $24.7 Million in cap space they have right now.
Right now it's unclear what their plan will be, but it is clear the Eagles have many different ways they can handle their right guard dilemma that has been placed in front of them.