Eagles had a top-10 offensive line in 2016, PFF says

Eagles had a top-10 offensive line in 2016, PFF says

In the deep corner of the Eagles' locker room, the offensive linemen stalls were placed in the order they were expected to play: Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson. 

They lined up that way to start a game just five times in 2016. 

Despite a 10-game suspension and eventually playing their fifth option at right tackle at one point in the season, the Eagles' offensive line was a relative strength in 2016. In fact, ProFootballFocus ranked their O-line as the eighth-best in the NFL. 

Here's what PFF said about the unit: 

"The Eagles' line would have been far higher on this list if RT Lane Johnson could avoid getting himself suspended. Johnson is arguably the game’s best right tackle but was suspended for 10 games, forcing the team to use fifth round rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Allen Barbre and then Matt Tobin at right tackle as injuries prevented a settled unit.

"New import Brandon Brooks was excellent in his first season with the Eagles, allowing just one sack all season at guard and narrowly missing out on a spot on the PFF All-Pro team.

"Between injury and suspension, the Eagles were disrupted pretty significantly up front, and this unit has the potential to be better than they showed overall this year."

PFF gave Jason Peters the highest grade of all the Eagles' linemen (88.3), which put him at No. 7 among tackles. Peters also had the top pass-blocking grade, and Johnson had the top run-blocking grade. 

But aside from the starters, the real reason the Eagles were able to stay afloat on the O-line and the reason Carson Wentz was able to remain alive in 2016 was thanks to the play of their backup offensive linemen. Stefen Wisniewski came to town on a one-year deal and proved to be a really valuable free-agent signing. 

And rookies Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo would have sat all year had things gone well. Instead, they each played a significant role in the season. Vaitai got over his disastrous first start and settled in, while Seumalo played six different positions during the year. 

Brooks was obviously the big free-agent acquisition and he played really well this year. He did miss the two games while he battled and learned about his anxiety issues, but when he was on the field he was impressive. 

Kelce and Peters were the only two players on the line to start all 16 games. Kelce didn't miss a snap for the second straight season. 

All five of the Eagles' starting offensive linemen are under contract for next season if they want to keep the unit intact. 

As for the PFF list, the Cowboys actually ranked No. 2, just behind the Tennessee Titans. The Titans' top-ranked lineman was right tackle Jack Conklin from Michigan State. There was a time when it seemed like Conklin would be an option for the Eagles in the first round at either pick No. 13 or 8. 

Meanwhile, in the NFC East, Washington was one spot ahead of the Eagles at No. 7, while the Giants came in at No. 20. 

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, OG: An embarrassment of riches

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, OG: An embarrassment of riches

Two offseasons ago, starting offensive guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans were cut by the Eagles in the same offseason, with no real plan to replace either one of them. After years of neglecting the position in the draft, the club was down to a couple of journeymen and some projects that weren't really working out. Allen Barbre. Andrew Gardner. Dennis Kelly. Matt Tobin.

Yet remarkably enough, guard has rapidly become an area of great strength for the Eagles, thanks to a renewed interest in the position. Barbre surprisingly panned out, which certainly helped speed up the rebuild, while the front office went out and signed veterans Brandon Brooks and Stefan Wisniewski, then invested a third-round draft pick in Isaac Seumoalo.

The best part: three of those four players are under contract for 2017, and two of them carry a cap hit under $2 million. Even if the Eagles do nothing, they are in great shape here.

At the very least, a decision must be made on Wisniewski, who is set to become a free agent again — that is assuming he doesn't make it for them. Teams weren't exactly beating down Wisniewski's door last offseason, which is why the Eagles were able to swoop in with a one-year deal, but it's a little strange. He's a solid interior lineman that can also play center and has five years of starting experience in the NFL. You would think he can fill a need somewhere.

If the Eagles can have Wisniewski back as a reserve, it might be a no-brainer. He doubles as a high-quality backup to Jason Kelce, plus Barbre has only the upcoming season remaining on his deal and is getting up there in years. Cost becomes an issue, as Wisniewski did not come cheap, but with six starts in 2016, there was some bang for the buck.

Or, if the Eagles really wanted to be competitve, they could accelerate Barbre's demise and entice Wisniewski with the promise of more work. The club stands to save all but $150,000 on the final year of Barbre's contract if he were to get the axe or is traded, money that could be put toward the younger alternative. That potentially opens up a job for Wisniewski at left guard, although Seumalo obviously is in the mix as well.

There's a reasonable possibility Wisniewski generates more interest on the open market this time around, so with Brooks locked in at right guard and Seumalo waiting in the wings, the Eagles wouldn't be a very attractive option. That's a nice problem to have, though.


Brandon Brooks
Age: 28*
Cap Number: $7,200,000

Money well spent. According to Pro Football Focus, Brooks scored the fifth-highest cumulative overall grade of any offensive guard in the NFL in 2016. Yet in terms of money, eight guards currently carry a higher cap hit for next season, so while he came at a high price, Brooks is paying dividends thus far. There is the matter of Brooks unexpectedly missing two games with issues related to anxiety, but he vowed to get that squared away, so hopefully it's not a problem going forward. As long as he's healthy, Brooks was quietly the best free-agent addition by the Eagles in 2016, a 6-foot-5, 335-pound mauler who should be around for a long time.

Allen Barbre
Age: 33*
Cap Number: $1,950,000

Barbre doubles as a swing tackle, starting three games at right tackle in '16, though he's much better inside. Still, that versatility alone might be enough to give the Eagles pause about about trying to save $1.8 million this offseason. As it turns out, Barbre is actually a pretty good guard, too, earning the 22nd-highest cumulative grade from Pro Football Focus for this past season. With all of that in mind, a case could be made the Eagles are getting a steal here. The real question is whether they should think about extending his contract, although that might be unnecessary with Seumalo in the fold.

Isaac Seumalo
Age: 24*
Cap Number: $764,966

Barbre isn't the only person who can kick out to tackle in a pinch. Brooks has done it in the past as a member of the Texans, and Seumalo lined up on the outside just this year. The rookie didn't embarrass himself, either, no matter what position he was playing. There's little question the Eagles view Seumalo as the left guard of the future, which could be 2017 if they let Wisniewski walk and part ways with Barbre as well. One departure might happen, but probably not both, as it would unnecessarily create a depth issue at guard. Still, the franchise has to be thinking very highly of Seumalo right now, so much so that you wonder if he'll get a chance to compete for a starting job even assuming Barbre remains.

Dillon Gordon
Age: 24*
Cap Number: $540,000

An undrafted free agent out of LSU, Gordon initially made the 53-man roster out of training camp, indicating the Eagles really liked him and wanted to protect him from the first run of waiver-wire pickups. He was eventually moved to the practice squad, then reactivated at the end of the season once injuries mounted, seeing the field for a grand total of two snaps. While listed at 6-4, 322 pounds, Gordon seems smaller than that, but maybe that's because he's so agile. Coach Doug Pederson was giving him a look as a part-time fullback during camp.

Darrell Greene
Age: 25*

Greene reportedly received a rather large bonus to sign with the Eagles as a rookie out of San Diego State, though wound up being passed on the depth chart by Gordon. Still, Greene was retained on the scout team and signed a future contract at the conclusion of the season, so he's being viewed as a prospect. Obviously, the front office will add more competition, but between the two of these guys, they can afford to lose a veteran.


Stefan Wisniewski
Age: 28*
2016 Cap Number: $2,760,000

Wisniewski had a higher cap hit as a backup in '16 than Barbre did as a starter, which is yet another complicating factor in a potential re-signing. The idea initially was Wisniewski would battle for the job, but a competition never materialized, and he became a highly paid reserve instead. Now if there are injuries, particularly to Kelce at center, he quickly becomes worth every penny, and he was. Regardless, the debate will be taken out of the Eagles' hands if Wisniewski catches on as a starter somewhere. Kind of a shame, but this is a situation where you probably can't keep everybody.

* Age as of 12/31/17

Stefen Wisniewski on his year with Eagles: 'It was definitely weird'

Stefen Wisniewski on his year with Eagles: 'It was definitely weird'

When Stefen Wisniewski signed his one-year contract with the Eagles last April, the six-year veteran believed he might have an opportunity to battle for a starting spot. Except a competition at left guard never materialized, as Allen Barbre retained his job without any indication of a fight.

It was the first time in Wisniewski's NFL career that he wasn't a starter, and as he was cleaning out his locker at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, he had to admit, it wasn't quite what he signed up for.

"It was definitely weird and didn't work out exactly how I might've thought," Wisniewski said.

Which is not to say Wisniewski was disappointed with his time on the Eagles, either. The long-time center described it as a positive experience overall, adding that he got some solid experience playing a different position.

"But looking back, I was so blessed with the opportunity," Wisniewski continued. "I got to play a lot of football, got to play a lot of guard, which was good, something I wanted to do, and I played well when I was in there. I enjoyed it, enjoyed my teammates. I had a lot of great teammates, and a good coaching staff, learned a lot.

"It was just interesting though."

In the end, Wisniewski didn't rule out re-signing with the Eagles despite the fact that there doesn't appear to be an obvious path to become a starter.

"I think they liked me, and I liked it here," he said. "It's too early to tell if that will happen or not, but we'll see here in the next month or two."

Wisniewski appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles in 2016 but only six as a starter, and those were all the result of injuries to other players. A job doesn't appear to be opening up anytime soon, either. Barbre, center Jason Kelce and right guard Brandon Brooks are all under contract for next season, while 2016 third-round draft pick Issac Seumalo showed promise as a rookie as well.

The Eagles may not require Wisniewski's services at all, much less to start. That could seemingly present an issue in negotiations, as it's still something the 27-year-old wants.

"I'm not going to talk about what kind of contract I'm looking for, but I do view myself as a starter and I think I showed that with six years of tape in the NFL that I'm a starter, and a good one," Wisniewski said.

"I'll be trying to do that wherever I'm at. That's definitely a goal."

Whether or not that will be on the table could determine how serious Wisniewski is about coming back, and that likely depends on his options.

A second-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2011, Wisniewski wound up playing out his rookie contract with the Raiders to find a tepid free-agent market. He eventually landed with the Jaguars for one season, but again, when his deal was up, there wasn't a lot of serious interest on the open market.

That's when the Eagles swooped in and improved their offensive line depth with the addition of Wisniewski. Still, he hopes this free-agency period goes a little more smoothly.

"It's a crazy process," Wisniewski said. "Hopefully it's only crazy for a week or two, but for me, it's been kind of crazy for five or six weeks, however long it's taken the last couple years. It kind of tests your resolve and can drive you crazy if you don't have the right mindset."

While Wisniewski made it perfectly clear he hopes to start, if that doesn't happen it sounds like he's learned to accept coming off the bench. Depending on how free agency plays out, that could prove beneficial to the Eagles.

"It was tough, and it kind of challenges a lot when you're used to being the starter," Wisniewski said. "It kind of checks your identity, but I think my faith carried me through that, and I think it was a good thing for me.

"It definitely humbled me and taught me how to just keep working despite your circumstances maybe not being ideal."