We ran across this from Scout.com's Ed Thompson regarding the future of the Eagles' offensive line.
Thompson is projecting what might happen with both Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan as unrestricted free agents after this season. The two have started 118 games together and have been beyond durable, especially considering the positions they play. Thomas will be 34 and Runyan will be 35.
The writer makes the point that Runyan's salary is about $1 million less against the cap than Thomas' and that could be a factor in deciding who stays, unless the Eagles can work out deals with both of them to remain. Thomas is listed at $5.7 million with a $5.45 million base and a $250,000 roster bonus in the final year of a 9-year, $38.5 million deal he signed in 2000. Runyan is listed at $4.2 million with a $3.2 million base and a $1 million roster bonus from a 3-year, $12.45 million deal his signed in 2006.
Runyan is among the team's most popular players, with radio and TV commitments, and is heavily involved in a number of charitable causes. His candor has been refreshing, especially around an organization often known to be lacking in that area.
One potential succession plan involves moving either Shawn Andrews or Todd Herremans from guard to tackle. Andrews is one of the best guards in the game, so there is some question about making him change positions. Moving Herremans might make more sense. He played tackle at Saginaw Valley State and also during his rookie season with the Eagles. That would open a spot at guard, potentially for Max Jean-Gilles, who is already vying for the starting spot at left guard this season with Herremans.
The Eagles have drafted three tackles over the last three years, presumably looking for a successor to Runyan or Thomas.
The potential answer, everyone thought, was Winston Justice, taken in the second round in 2006, the highest the Eagles have taken an offensive lineman since grabbing Shawn Andrews in the first round in 2004. We all know what has happened to him and all the criticism he has received for his performance against the Giants. Justice is still 320, but says he is stronger this year and has gained some muscle. Les Bowen has more on Justice in an Eagletarian post from last week.
Among this year's draftees, Mike McGlynn, a fourth-rounder from Pitt, could be an answer in the future. Although he might be a better fit at guard, he also played right tackle in college. The Eagles took King Dunlap, another right tackle candidate, in the seventh round. He fell in a major way in the draft after a bad senior season at Auburn and the Eagles are hoping a change of scenery will help him.
The writer points out that Thomas has the inside track on being the one guy to return in 2009. But a lot has to happen between now and then for the Eagles not to need to re-sign both Thomas and Runyan for the future, despite their age, unless one of them has a bad 2008.