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Philadelphia Eagles sidestep the OT trade market

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Let’s take a quick moment to make something clear: I am very excited about Jay Ajayi. I am call-friends-who-don’t-know-football-to-tell-them-about-it-anyway excited. As a self-proclaimed old soul, who longs for nothing more than the return of smashmouth football, my grin couldn’t be bigger.

But, despite adding a potentially offense-altering weapon in Jay Ajayi, one glaring hole remains on Philadelphia’s roster.

They didn’t add an offensive tackle.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 24: Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters (71) looks on during the NFL game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 24 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

After Jason Peters went down against Washington, Philadelphia fans and beats fled to the waiver wire and depth charts, searching for a suitable piece that couldn’t replace–no one ever could–but at least alleviate the loss of franchise OT Jason Peters to an ACL tear. The hottest names on the trade market: Buffalo’s OT Cordy Glenn and Houston’s OT Duane Brown.

With credibility were both of these names thrown about. The garage sale going on in Buffalo seems to hold no piece above consideration: CB Ronald Darby (now with Philadelphia), WR Sammy Watkins (LA Rams), and DT Marcell Dareus (Jacksonville) are all considered top talents at their respective positions. The new management for the Bills seems intent on creating a particular culture, and only retaining/acquiring players who fit that mindset. As Buffalo acquired more and more picks for future drafts, it was possible the right asking price could get them to move on from Glenn as well.

Duane Brown, on the other hand, held out for the beginning of the season–save for one week. Likely in an effort to get traded, Brown returned to the Texans squad in their duel against Seattle, demonstrating to the trade market that he was, certainly, still in football shape and a viable piece for an offensive line. Unwilling to pay Brown the boon of which he believed himself worthy, Houston was glad to recoup draft capital for Brown.

And indeed they did, trading him to the very Seahawks that saw Brown’s audition in person. After failing to send CB Jeremy Lane due to a failed physical, Seattle ended up shipping off a 2018 3rd and 2019 2nd for Brown and Houston’s 2018 5th.

That trade, which broke on Monday, likely set the market for “franchise” OTs–and a hefty price was set, indeed. Philadelphia, almost back to full strength following the trades for Carson Wentz, simply couldn’t mortgage their future for a piece likely not within their long-term plans–with a heavy contract at that. Perhaps they had discussions with other squads for their depth tackles–many NFL insiders reported Philly was working as such–but nothing came to fruition.

So, here we sit. Lane Johnson–certified baller–on the right; Halapoulivaati Vaitai–not that–on the left.

Philadelphia will undoubtedly move forward with Big V as the presumptive starter, even if he struggles. No free-agent OT can play a better game than the 2016 fifth-rounder, who acquitted himself well against San Francisco, and has shown good promise over his considerable time spot-starting for Philly. But Vaitai will likely continue to be a player with significant ups and downs, as he’s young and came into the league quite raw.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 17: Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Dillon Gordon (69) gets set during a NFL preseason game between the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 17, 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. Eagles won 20-16. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Behind Vaitai, however, is the greatest cause for concern: converted DT Taylor Hart and actual C Isaac Seumalo compose the tackle depth for Philadelphia.

I believe the technical phrase is “less than ideal.”

Philadelphia will almost definitely add another OT body–at least to the practice squad, where second-year tackle Dillon Gordon currently wastes away. A converted TE (like Peters), Gordon performed at roster-worthy levels in this preseason, under my eye. But alas, a member of the 53-man last year, Gordon was relegated to the practice squad and has yet to be called up. I expect that to be the first move Philadelphia makes when constructing their new active roster.

As Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones return from injury, players like Dexter McDougle and Jaylen Watkins will likely be of lesser value, and could find the street to make room for Gordon. As DT Destiny Vaeao returns from injury, DT Justin Hamilton could head back to the practice squad, and the addition of RB Jay Ajayi likely spells demotion for one of Philly’s five active running backs. Does Kenjon Barner’s return ability make his job safe? How invested does this coaching staff remain in Wendell Smallwood, who only had one carry against the Niners? Has UDFA Corey Clement done enough to prove his work? That’s one to keep an eye on moving forward.

A few free agent OT names for you, should things get dire? Will Beatty, Orlando Franklin, and Cyrus Kouandjio are the names to watch. Keep a weather eye on Kouandjio, who used to play for current Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

Ben Solak has been a football fan and film junkie for all of his life, and has the pleasure of serving as a National Scout for NDT Scouting. He also covers the Philadelphia Eagles for Bleeding Green Nation and co-hosts the Locked On Eagles podcast. Ben takes many things far too seriously, including fishing, Captain America, grammar, and Game Of Thrones.

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