Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Eagles looking for a right tackle
By Dan Graziano
Four of the five signings the Philadelphia Eagles announced Tuesday were on the defensive side of the ball, where they need the most help. But they have an issue on the offensive line as well, and they appear interested in doing some big-name shopping for an offensive tackle. Sources say the Eagles are looking at the tackle market, that they had some interest in Jake Long but appear unlikely to sign him, and that they will take a look at former Bengals tackle Andre Smith and former Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
Smith and Vollmer were right tackles in their previous stops, and the right side of the line is where the Eagles have a need. Assuming left tackle Jason Peters recovers from last summer's Achilles injuries as they expect him to, they could sign a free-agent right tackle and move Todd Herremans inside to guard to replace the disappointing Danny Watkins.
Pro Football Focus ranked Smith as the top right tackle and the No. 4 overall tackle in the league last year. Vollmer ranked as the fourth-best right tackle and 13th-best overall. If they're both hitting the market with expectations for right-tackle money, as opposed to the left-tackle money Long is likely to get, they'd jive with the Eagles' apparent desire to play on the second tier of the market at key positions. Though it is worth mentioning that the Eagles' most likely starting quarterback in 2013 is left-handed Michael Vick, so the right side of the offensive line is his "blind side."
Adding a tackle in free agency would help the Eagles' depth and versatility on the offensive line, which crumbled last year as it lost four starters to injury. And if they're worried about Peters being able to come back, they might have the ability to draft a franchise-caliber tackle with the No. 4 pick in next month's draft. Whoever the Eagles' quarterback is in 2013 and in years beyond will need a quality offensive line in front of him, and there's no team in the league that learned that lesson in more difficult fashion than the Eagles did in 2012.
If you look at the tackle page of our ESPN.com free-agent tracker, you can pick through and find some other names in which you would like the Eagles to have interest. Eric Winston, recently cut by the Chiefs, is another possibility for right tackle. But Smith and Vollmer are the cream of the still-available crop, and if the Eagles are checking them out, that means they're serious about addressing their offensive line.