In one of those strange little coincidences of NFL life, on the day the Eagles signed a right tackle to a new contract, Jon Runyan signed one as well. Runyan's deal was for 1 year with the San Diego Chargers, who placed right tackle Jeromey Clary on injured reserve yesterday. Clary injured his left ankle in Sunday's victory over Denver.
“It’s unfortunate that a lot of times it takes an injury to get in a position like this, but once the beginning of the season passed, this is the kind of situation I was looking for,” Runyan told the Chargers' team Web site. “I was fortunate enough that it worked out here. It’s the right time and right situation and I felt comfortable doing it.”
The Eagles thought Shawn Andrews was going to replace Runyan on the right side of their offensive line when they let Runyan walk into free agency, right after he underwent microfracture knee surgery. Andrews' back problems kept that from happening. But sub Winston Justice has played so well, the Eagles extended Justice's contract for 4 years yesterday. At the news conference announcing that deal, there were questions about where Andrews fits in now, but none about Runyan.
Runyan, who turns 36 Friday, played in 192 successive NFL games before this season. He joined the Eagles as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans in 2000 and was a cornerstone of the team's turnaround into a perennial playoff contender under Andy Reid.
The Chargers' interest in Runyan dates back to September, according to general manager A.J. Smith.
“We offered Jon a job in early September,” Smith told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But at that time he respectfully declined. I talked to him on the phone and recruited hard, but I must have done a real poor job. It just happened he was available and accepted the second offer.”
Sources told the Union-Tribune that the Chargers offered Runyan a contract on Sunday night before their team plane even took off from Denver, once the preliminary diagnosis on Clary was apparent. He accepted Monday and signed the deal when he arrived in San Diego last night.
Runyan will be on the practice field with the Chargers today after immersing himself in the playbook last night upon his arrival in San Diego.
“I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in in 10 years,” Runyan told Chargers.com “I’ve been training that much. It’s my personality; when I do it outside of the football facility, I tend to overdo it. It’s a little more relaxed when you’re in the building all the time. I’ve been going four or five days a week for the past nine months so I’m there (physically).”
Runyan worked out for three teams, including the Eagles, earlier this season, and the Birds never completely closed the door on his return, but indications were he had not regained sufficient mobility when that evaluation occurred, more than 2 months ago.
It is unclear how the signing might affect Runyan's professed interest in running for the U.S. Congress in New Jersey's Third District. He has said he will not move his family from South Jersey, regardless of where he ends up playing, but even so, football tends to be a full-time job.