Eagles’ Top 5 Free-Agent Candidates to Replace Andre Dillard

Getty LaAdrian Waddle

Andre Dillard will require surgery after tearing a biceps muscle. So ends the young left tackle’s first year as the starter.

The smart money is on the Eagles simply sliding veteran Jason Peters back to his long-time “Bodyguard” spot. That’s how the team’s depth chart is reading right now, with Matt Pryor taking over Peters’ transitional role at right guard. Swing tackle Jordan Mailata will serve as the primary backup at left tackle and rookie Jack Driscoll slotting in behind him.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s a pro, and he’s a young player,” head coach Doug Pederson said of Driscoll. “But you can already see those traits in him to becoming a really good offensive lineman in this league.

Philadelphia’s starting offensive line will tentatively look like this for Week 1: LT Jason Peters, LG Isaac Seumalo, C Jason Kelce, RG Matt Pryor, RT Lane Johnson. Is it musical chairs? Sure, but it could be a lot worse. Good thing they brought Peters back.

“Obviously, when you’re talking about Jason Peters, you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame person,” GM Howie Roseman said of Peters in February. “He’s someone who’s very special to us and played at a really high-level last year.”

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Options at Left Tackle in Free Agency?

The Eagles seem content to let Peters resume his role as the starting left tackle in Philly, but if they could decide to test the free-agent waters. Honestly, none of the options out there are either sexy or exciting. Let’s take a look anyway. Why not?

Greg Robinson: The 27-year-old started 14 games at left tackle for the Browns in 2019 while seeing action in 83 total games (70 starts) in six seasons with stops in Cleveland, Detroit and Los Angeles. The Rams took him with the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, but a series of character issues have held him back. Robinson was jailed last February after being caught with 156.9 pounds of marijuana (facing up to 20 years in prison), plus he once got ejected for kicking an opponent in the head. On the field, his blocking grades, via Pro Football Focus, leave much to be desired.

Chris Clark: He’s only four years younger than Peters, at 34. Not exactly the best guy to back up an aging veteran. However, Clark does have legitimate experience having protected DeShaun Watson’s blindside in Houston. The former undrafted free agent has played in 129 games (73 starts) while switching between left and right tackle. The Southern Miss product has mostly been a backup in his 12-year career, most notably as part of Denver’s 2015 Super Bowl team where he was teammates with the Eagles’ Malik Jackson and protected Peyton Manning.

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LaAdrian Waddle: Hear this one out. Waddle is a left tackle and an underachieving one who missed the entire 2019 campaign due to a torn quad muscle. The Eagles had already been linked to him as a possible backup plan at left tackle, in case Jordan Mailata doesn’t pan out and/or for Andre Dillard insurance. Now his name is even more intriguing. Waddle is a two-time Super Bowl champion from his time in New England where he saw action in 31 games over four seasons.

Jared Veldheer: The former third-round pick is another aging veteran with almost a decade of NFL experience, including 120 games (113 starts) in stints with the Raiders, Cardinals, Broncos, and Packers. Veldheer looked like a “fish out of water” switching from left tackle to right tackle in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, and then found his mojo again in 2019 after coming out of retirement late in the year to help the Packers.

Donald Penn: The 37-year-old is three years removed from a 2017 Pro Bowl season in Oakland when he was one of the highest-graded tackles in the league. More impressively, Penn has started 189 games out of a possible 194 in 12 pretty dominant seasons in the NFL. He’s made three Pro Bowls and was even featured on a trick play where he caught a touchdown pass, plus he’s a true left tackle having solely manned that spot. He’s kind of a poor man’s Jason Peters.

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