The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV on Sunday night. With the offseason officially upon us, we’re taking a look at every position in the Philadelphia Eagles list and what awaits us this offseason. The franchise has already undergone major changes last month since its season ended. And there seems to be more on the horizon. We will try to figure out what that might look like in this series. Next step: offensive line.
PHILADELPHIA – All things considered, the Eagles the offensive line situation could have been much worse last season. Two starters were lost before the start of the season. Four other offensive linemen who started the games ended the year on the injured reserve. Another made a stint in the injured reserve during the season.
In all, the Eagles have used 14 different offensive line combinations in 16 games, and while it was difficult to watch at times, the reality could have been much worse. This is in large part thanks to match coordinator and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who is retained by new coach Nick Sirianni.
But the Eagles enter the 2021 offseason with important questions about what the offensive line will look like this fall and beyond, and there could be changes to a few positions.
Philadelphia looks set to return at least three starters to their current positions in left guard Isaac Seumalo, right guard Brandon Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson. Seumalo missed seven games with a knee injury, while Johnson underwent end-of-season surgery in November after bouncing in and out of the roster. Brooks tore his Achilles in June and missed the season.
Brooks and Johnson are two of the highest paid players in their posts, but both have struggled with injuries over the past three seasons, and part of the offensive line’s success has been linked to their performances in 2021. Seumalo has been solid but not spectacular in its role.
But the other two positions could be in the air. Center Jason Kelce has been honest knowing that the end of his career is coming sooner rather than later. The 33-year-old was the only Eagles offensive player to start all 16 games this season, and he missed just four snaps. He might not want to undergo reconstruction. Seumalo could slide down the middle if he retires.
Then there is the left tackle. Andre Dillard entered the season as a thrown left tackle starter, but suffered a bicep injury in training camp. Jason Peters slipped off the right guard, then when he missed October with a toe injury, Jordan Mailata entered the starting lineup. Peters returned to the starting lineup when he was healthy, but Mailata eventually returned to the lineup for the stretch race. He missed the last game of the season with a concussion.
Peters, 39, told a tv channel that he wants to play another season, but it probably won’t be in Philadelphia. That leaves Dillard, the 2019 first-round pick, and Mailata, the 2018 seventh-round pick who had never played football before, for that spot. There were questions about Dillard’s future this past offseason, and the Eagles will be looking to see if he can reach the potential that made him the No.22 overall pick.
Mailata, meanwhile, may have been the most pleasant surprise of the 2020 season, and Stoutland has a lot to do with it. Its ceiling seems quite high.
Looking ahead, an interesting side effect of all of the injuries last season is that many young players have seen extended playing time, including Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, Matt Pryor, Sua Opeta and Brett Toth. Stoutland likes young people, development prospects, and Herbig and Driscoll seemed to be doing well. Depending on what’s going on with Kelce, Herbig could be a candidate for a starting position, while Driscoll looks set to be a top replacement.
Sirianni’s initial staff with the Eagles had few intriguing names, but the smartest move he made was to keep Stoutland, who has been with the squad since 2013. Players like Kelce, Brooks and Johnson have taken their games to the next level under Stoutland’s tutelage, while his work with Mailata and other young players has been impressive.
The Eagles have so many questions about their roster, and the offensive line is no different, but it’s a position where it’s easier to feel a little better going forward with Stoutland returning. Still, given the injuries in recent seasons, Stoutland needs a lot of young players who are ready to play.
Daniel Gallen covers the Philadelphia Eagles for PennLive. He can be contacted at [email protected]. You can follow it on Twitter and Facebook. Follow PennLive’s Philadelphia Eagles coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.