The Eagles have spent the past couple of days taking away some of the uncertainty surrounding an offensive line with a few unknowns heading into the start of the NFL’s new league year on March 13.
First, they added another year to the contract of Jason Kelce on Saturday, keeping him in the fold through 2021 while making him the league’s highest paid player at his position with an annual salary of $11 million.
Second, the team signed versatile lineman Isaac Seumalo to a three-year contract through 2022 on Monday.
Entering his fourth season, Seumalo became the starting left guard halfway through last season, taking over for Stefen Wisniewski. Seumalo has played every position along the offensive line except for center since entering the league as the Eagles’ third-round draft pick in 2016, the 79th player taken overall. He was the next player drafted by the team after they took Carson Wentz second overall that year.
Kelce had been mulling retirement before his contract extension, so he will be back.
Seumalo had one year left on his rookie deal.
The uncertainty along the offensive front comes at left tackle, where Jason Peters is expected to return, but will he be able to remain healthy? There’s also some uneasiness at right guard, where Brandon Brooks will spend the offseason rehabbing from a torn Achilles suffered against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs, which makes him questionable to start the regular season.
It certainly sounds like the Eagles would welcome back Peters, who is 37 and absorbing over $10 million in salary cap space.
“JP a big reason for our success,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine last week. “Those are things we’ll talk about as we move forward. He’s a valuable part of our offensive line.
“I think in Jason’s mind and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he feels like, too, getting healthy and being 100 percent going into the offseason, going into training camp. He was coming off of that injury (a torn ACL in 2017) and it’s tough to play like he did, to battle through that injury every single week, then the soreness and the different things, it’s a credit to him. Moving forward those are conversations we’ll continue to have with him.”
Peters struggled with various ailments during the season. There were a handful of games he was unable to finish due to those.
The left tackle, though, is a favorite of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, and the team is becoming known for its loyalty toward players they perceive as lifelong Eagles. Peters is in that category.
“I think the hardest thing we have to do is separate the emotion from it, and quite frankly, we’re an organization led by our owner and led by our head coach that emotion plays a part in some of the decisions we make,” executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman told reporters at the Combine. “We get attached to our players because they do so much for us.
“I don’t know if that’s ever going to go away, as long as this leadership is in place and as long as we’re led by Jeffrey and coach Pederson. So we try to balance those things, but it’s hard. It’s hard. In this day and age it’s hard also for guys to spend their whole career with one team.”
Jernigan to be set free
A report on Monday indicated that defensive tackle Tim Jernigan will not have his contract for 2019 picked up by the team. The veteran played just three regular season games this year after offseason surgery.
The Eagles will save $7 million by releasing Jernigan, though they will have to absorb $6 million in dead money.
By letting go over Jernigan, it is virtually a certainy that the Eagles will invest heavily at defensive tackle during the draft, perhaps even using their first-round pick on one.