Rags to Riches: Eagles Extend Winston Justice

Rags to Riches: Eagles Extend Winston Justice
January 24, 2009, 8:58 am
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It wasn't so long ago when Winston Justice was considered a bust, and most assumed the worst when he was forced to take over for Shawn Andrews at right tackle. A little less than three months later, Justice suddenly is one of their most consistent offensive linemen, and now an integral part of this team going forward.

The front office clearly recognizes his contribution, as they've rewarded him with a four-year contract extension. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the deal is worth just over $18 million, including a $6 million signing bonus. Considering just how well he has been playing, the Eagles might even be getting a bargain.

It's pretty incredible how far Justice has come from September 30, 2007, the night Osi Umenyiora ran wild. Most would agree Andy Reid put Justice in a horrible spot, giving the first time starter no help against an All Pro defensive end, but it was a horrible performance all the same. Since then, Justice had been shuffled across the line until he eventually found a home at right tackle. He didn't immediately look comfortable there either, but when he was pressed into the starting role this summer, things just seemed to click.

The question is where this leaves the Andrew brothers. Justice obviously is entrenched at right tackle, with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans holding down the left side. It only makes sense if Shawn were ever able to come back to football, he would probably take over at right guard where he is already a two-time Pro Bowler. If that were ever the case, it stands to reason Stacy's only chance to start would be to beat out Jamaal Jackson at center.

Right now though, Stacy Andrews looks like one of the worst free agent signings this team has ever made. To be fair, he probably isn't entirely recovered from offseason knee surgery. This is a player the Cincinnati Bengals were seriously interested in keeping, so it's hard to believe he's just plain bad. The whole point may be moot anyway if Shawn doesn't intend to play football again, potentially leaving a vacancy at guard.

Back to Justice, who definitely deserves the new deal. He was set to become a free agent after this season (a restricted FA in the event of an uncapped year), and had the Eagles allowed that to happen, some team could have stolen the former second round pick. Smart move to get it done and get one step closer to rebuilding the offensive line.

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