The Eagles pro-bowl guard Brandon Brooks has sustained a torn achilles during a workout and is expected to miss the entire 2020 season. Calling this a tough loss is an understatement as Brooks has been considered by some to be the best right guard in football over the past few seasons—three consecutive pro-bowls, and a should-be All-Pro in my book.
The team has a handful of options to replace him for a season, and it looks like they’ll have the ability to go either in-house or explore free agency to add the ideal holdover. I’ll get to the candidates already on the roster, but when you consider the importance of protecting Wentz and the youth already being broken in at LT, Howie would be wise to kick the tires on a few veteran free agents on the market.
Peters is still on the open market and at this point I’m not sure he’ll find the situation he’s looking for. The future HOFer has been vocal that he has plenty of gas left in the tank, and he stated last offseason that he’s capable of sliding down the line and playing guard if need be.
After losing Malcolm Jenkins it would be nice to retain Peters’ presence in the locker room; and an added bonus is that he would provide A+ depth at LT if Dillard were to get hurt or struggle mightily. From a value standpoint it’s a reunion that makes total sense as long as the Eagles believe he can play guard.
For more on why JP is a perfect fit, Rueben Frank laid out this compelling case for NBC Sports Philly.
Other options: Larry Warford & Ronald Leary
A couple other notable names are former Saints guard Larry Warford—who at 29 and coming off three consecutive Pro Bowls is easily the best option on the market—and former Cowboy and Bronco Ronald Leary—who may be well past his prime but is familiar with new offensive assistant Rick Scangarello from their time together in Denver where Leary started 12 games at RG in 2019.
If Warford is affordable then he’s the guy, no question about it. The only concern is that while the Eagles have plenty of cap room to add him, they’d prefer to roll that money into 2021 where they need it desperately. Don’t be fooled by anyone who says the ‘21 cap situation “isn’t as bad as it seems,” because they clearly haven’t looked in the contracts—it’s a nightmare.
In House options: Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll
The argument for staying in-house to fill this hole is that it allows the team to groom a potential long term option at either LG (if Seumalo falters) or center (when Kelce retires). The team has intentionally stockpiled depth and young bodies along the line, so while the need to protect Wentz is obviously vital, I can’t imagine they did all that just to immediately go outside for Brooks’ replacement.
Pryor is considered the in-house favorite for the job. He started once as a rookie in Brooks’ lone 2019 absence in the wildcard game against Seattle, and logged 79 snaps as a depth OL over 12 appearances in the regular season.
A 2018 sixth round pick out of TCU, the coaching staff has spoke highly of Pryor, and having the confidence—not that they had much of an option—to start him against Seattle in the playoffs makes him the leader in the clubhouse for this job.
Herbig’s 3 snaps to Pryor’s 143 makes him an obvious underdog in this battle, but the fact that he earned a roster spot as a undrafted FA is telling of what the Eagles see in him. He’s not even 22 years old, but a season of experience and a full offseason should allow him to throw his hat in the ring to replace Brooks. Herbig may be an unknown, but he’s a dark horse with the tools to stick in my opinion.
Driscoll was the teams most recent fourth round pick out of Auburn, and he figures to be right in the mix for this job. His technique and agility were both considered a plus out of college, and as long as he adds the strength required of him to hang inside at this level then there’s no reason to think he can’t be an early contributor—just don’t bet on him winning the job.