The Eagles have had an exciting offseason thus far, to put it mildly. But this “dream team” (I hate that by the way) still has a few major questions that need answers.
The spending spree may be over but it could be time to head back to the store for odds and ends. Or more specifically, RT and LB.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they’re heading back to the grocery store for milk, bread, and eggs 15 minutes before the blinding snow storm hits.
Right tackle, the one who will be protecting Michael Vick’s blind side, is currently being handled by 2008 7th round draft pick King Dunlap and 2010 UDFA Austin Howard. Winston Justice is on the PUP list for now while recovering from knee surgery in February.
There were numerous questions surrounding Justice’s surgery, including whether or not he needed the dreaded microfracture procedure, and some thought it might sideline him for 2011.
But his surgery was reported as being successful and no indications came out about him missing any time this season. The Eagles did not address the tackle position in the draft or so far this offseason so their actions make it seem as if they’re not worried.
Justice hasn’t played well since 2009 and is now coming off a problematic 2010 season plus knee surgery.
They may not be worried and maybe I’m the only one with a little concern here. Though it should be noted that the Eagles were rumored to be interested in T Doug Free before he re-signed in Dallas.
So, perhaps they are at least a little concerned and are looking but there just isn’t anyone else out there worth jumping on right away.
The problem here is that it’s pretty difficult to ever find a quality offensive tackle on the open market. Especially after the initial slew of signings. Good ones get snapped up instantaneously.
The list of currently available free agent tackles resembles a list of the kids who were always picked last in gym class. Here’s a quick list of the best of the…well…here’s a list:
Mark Tauscher (GB) – Is unsure if he even wants to play any more.
Nick Kaczur (NE) – Lengthy injury history, missed all of 2010 with back injury.
Alex Barron (Dallas) – Record setting penalty machine
Max Starks (Pitt) – Coming off serious neck surgery and weighs 370 lbs. Not exactly a fit for Howard Mudd.
Langston Walker (Oak) – Another big tackle weighing 360 lbs, might not be a fit with Mudd.
Ray Willis (Sea) – Size-wise is a fit for Mudd but has mainly been a back up. Could be somewhat intriguing but is rumored to be interested in Miami.
Anyone from that list spark your interest? Maybe we can slap some lipstick on a pig and see if we win the beauty pageant.
Mark Tauscher is the only one that could be of interest but only if his head and heart are still in the game. He would also be an injury risk as he is coming off of rotator cuff surgery.
There is nobody else on that list who is a clear upgrade over Justice, Dunlap, or Howard. The only way I can see us realistically upgrading this position is via trade.
The hope is that Justice will return soon and be 100% healthy. If not, the Eagles will have to seriously consider juggling their line.
Danny Watkins played tackle in college as did Todd Herremans. If things remain as they are right now, they may have to consider sliding one of them to the outside and insert newly acquired Evan Mathis or one of the rookies at guard.
Hopefully it won’t have to come to that though. After all, it’s only the health of our starting QB that we should be worried about.
As for the available linebackers, that list is a tiny bit better than the tackles. The good ones have been picked over or just re-signed with their own teams. Here’s the short list of those without a new team as of yet:
OLB Ben Leber (Min) – Older, productivity on the decline, back up material.
OLB Keith Bulluck (NYG) – See Ben Leber, though he may get a starting gig.
MLB Lofa Tatupu (Sea) – Injury concern, bad knees, career in decline.
MLB Kirk Morrison (Jags) – Was a tackling machine in Oakland but play slipped
some last season.
I would not consider any of these guys to be “impact players” that would make a huge difference. Morrison is the best of the four and would be an upgrade, albeit a slight one, over what the Eagles are currently putting on the field.
Tatupu is a player to keep your eye on as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles showing interest but his knees are a real issue.
Again, if the Eagles want to land a linebacker that could make a difference it will have to come via trade. But at this point, I’d settle for Morrison.
There is still a decent chance Asante Samuel gets traded and if so, look for the Eagles to get a player at one of these two positions in return. I believe they’re still interested in a running back as well.
But if Samuel is the trading chip, they better use his value to garner a player at a position that is of greater need than running back.