Eagles Stay or Go 2021: Interior offensive line

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Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro
·7 min read
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Eagles Stay or Go 2021: Another season with Jason Kelce? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro bring back Stay or Go in 2021, trying to figure out the futures of every Eagles player on the roster.

Today, we’ll look at interior offensive linemen:

Brandon Brooks

Roob: The question isn’t whether Brooks will be back. Obviously, he will. It’s whether he can get through the season healthy. He suffered a torn Achilles in 2018, a dislocated shoulder in 2019 and another Achilles this past season, all season ending. He hasn’t made it through the end of the season since 2017, and he’ll be 32 before the regular season starts. Healthy, he’s the best guard in the league. But he’s got to stay healthy.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles really missed Brooks during the 2020 season after he tore his Achilles in June. But since the injury happened so early, he’ll have plenty of time to recover. Don’t forget how well Brooks was playing in 2019. He was at an All-Pro level and meant a ton to the offense. It was one of the highest levels I have ever seen an offensive lineman play. He’s 31 now but if he can get back there, it would be a huge boost for the Eagles.

Verdict: Stays

Nate Herbig

Roob: Verdict: Herbie wound up as a pretty valuable player as a second-year undrafted guard. His 891 snaps were second-most on the entire offense, behind Jason Kelce, and he started 11 games - five at left guard, seven at right guard. The future? Who knows. I figure Herbig is steady and versatile enough that he’ll be back in some role, but with a new coach, you never know.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It was a little strange how Herbig fell out of favor during the 2020 season. He’s not a tremendous athlete and he might not be an ideal starter. But he can play all three interior positions and was pretty solid last season. He’s worth keeping around as a somewhat reliable backup. Believe it or not, he actually played the second-most snaps of the Eagles’ offensive linemen in 2020.

Verdict: Stays

Luke Juriga

Roob: When you back up Jason Kelce, you don’t get to play very much. Juriga got 13 snaps all year as an undrafted rookie, and obviously that isn’t enough to have any sense whether or not he can play. My hunch is Juriga could find himself on the practice squad at some point during the season, but I think the Eagles will try to upgrade their o-line depth this offseason and I wouldn't expect him on the 53 on cut-down day.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Juriga got paid a lot as a UDFA and ended up spending most of his rookie season on the active roster, although he didn’t play very much. He’ll be in camp and will have a chance to make the roster again. I’m just not sure what he is yet. My guess is he sticks around but on the practice squad with fewer roster spots available with a healthier OL.

Verdict: Goes

Jason Kelce

Roob: The question here is whether Kelce will retire and my guess is that he does. It's just a guess. And I sure hope he doesn’t for selfish reasons. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever covered in 34 years on the Eagles beat. As well as one of the best players. But he’s 33, he’s hobbling around by the end of every year , he’s got a young family and plenty of other interests and he’s piled up every individual honor and team honor imaginable. Will he want to crank it up for one more year with a new coach on a team that’s rebuilding? He’s due $5.5 million in 2021, which is one reason to stay, and another Pro Bowl or all-pro would add to his possible Hall of Fame candidacy. But that’s not why Kelce plays the game. We’ll know soon, but my hunch is he’ll hang ‘em up and I sure hope I’m wrong.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles will obviously want Kelce back this season but the question is whether or not he wants to return or if he’d rather retire. You can see it from both sides. Kelce is 33 and the Eagles are clearly in a transition period with a new head coach. He might not be in for all that. But the Eagles did bring back Jeff Stoutland and that ought to increase the odds of a return. If Kelce plays another year and has another good season, he could boost his Hall of Fame candidacy, but Kelce doesn’t care about that.

Verdict: Stays

Sua Opeta

Roob: Opeta started a couple games before getting hurt and seemed to do OK. Like Herbig, he’s an overachieving undrafted interior lineman going into his third season. Is there room for both of them on the 53? All depends what the Eagles do in the draft and probably on what Kelce does. Total guess, but … 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It was interesting when the Eagles basically began to play Opeta over Herbig last year. My theory is that they liked the upside of Opeta’s athleticism over Herbig’s athleticism. Stoutland really likes Opeta, so my guess is he sticks around in 2021 in his third year. His season came to an end early when he needed back surgery, so assuming he makes a full recovery, I like his chances.

Verdict: Stays

Ross Pierschbacher

Roob: At 12 letters, Piersbacher holds the honor of longest last name (non-hyphenated) by an Eagle since 13-lettered Hall of Famer Alex Wojciechowicz back in the 1940s.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: We don’t know much about Pierschbacher. He was a 5th-round pick out of Alabama by Washington in 2019 but didn’t join the Eagles until December. The Eagles signed him to their active roster after multiple injuries. He’ll have a chance to impress during camp, but for now I’m not sure so I’ll lean the other way.

Verdict: Goes

Matt Pryor

Roob: I can’t believe how bad Pryor played this past year. I actually thought he was decent in spot duty in 2019, but he regressed sharply this year and by the end of the season was only playing when literally nobody else was available. Which was often.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: This might be unpopular because Pryor didn’t play very well in 2020. It’s clear he’s not a tackle and he didn’t even play well inside at guard. I think he’s firmly on the bubble heading into 2021 and I probably wouldn’t keep him. But the Eagles view him as a versatile backup with some experience under his belt.

Verdict: Stays

Isaac Seumalo

Roob: Seumalo might be the most under-rated current Eagles. Just a solid player who the Eagles really missed when they lost him for eight games with a knee injury this past year. He’s also the only interior lineman the Eagles have drafted in the first three rounds since 2013. Whether he’s at left guard or center - or possibly even right guard depending what else is happening - he’ll be out there somewhere.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It’s hard to believe but Seumalo is entering Year 6. After a shaky beginning to his career, Seumalo has become a very solid left guard. We don’t know what the future holds for Kelce but the thought when the Eagles drafted Seumalo was that he was the next center. And now here we are six years into his career. No matter what happens this offseason, Seumalo will be starting this year.

Verdict: Stays

Stay or Go: Wide receivers

Stay or Go: Cornerbacks

Stay or Go: Running backs

Stay or Go: Linebackers

Stay or Go: Defensive tackles

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