The Eagles head into the offseason with a lot of roster questions, not the least of which is the state of their offensive line.
The Eagles’ line was considered one of the best in the league this season. But nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters will turn 37 next Tuesday and has a $10.7 million cap number in 2019.
Two-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks tore his right Achilles tendon in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Saints and might not be ready for the start of next season.
And, oh, yeah, Jason Kelce, their two-time first-team All-Pro center, has acknowledged that retirement is a possibility.
But this is mid-January, and the Eagles aren’t in the mood to fret about the future right now.
They still are taking bows for their impressive late-season resurrection, which saw them make it to the divisional round of the playoffs; OTAs are four months away; training camp is 6½ months away; and the start of the 2019 season is eight months away.
“Moving forward, very comfortable,’’ coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday when asked his feelings about an O-line that could find itself without three of this season’s starters when it opens next season. “Our offensive line was one of the top offensive lines in the National Football League. Brandon’s injury, how it happened and when it happened, was unfortunate.
“I’m not going to get into a lot of specifics with [the status of] each guy. But we’d obviously like to have them all back. The more guys up front you can keep together, it’s great for your quarterback. It’s great for your running back. It’s good for your offense in general.’’
A day earlier, Brooks said he was going to attack his rehab with gusto and fully expected to be back by Week 1, and maybe even in time for the start of training camp.
Some players have returned from an Achilles tear in six to eight months. But it is typically considered a nine- to 10-month injury, and comes with an increased risk of another tear.
Brooks is a vital part of that offensive line. After he was injured late in the first quarter Sunday, the Eagles’ offense managed just 108 yards and seven first downs on their last eight possessions.
Kelce, 31, said he has pondered retirement each of the last two offseasons, and said this offseason will be no different. That said, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll be back.
Kelce has two years left on his current contract with the Eagles, but he has no guaranteed money left on his deal. Only a skeptic would suggest that dropping the R-word after a second straight All-Pro selection might be a negotiating ploy. His $6.5 million base salary for 2019 is only the fifth highest among players at his position.
Peters wasn’t available at the Eagles’ locker clean-out Monday, so it’s uncertain whether he is considering retirement after his 15th NFL season.
The Eagles welcomed him back this season after he missed most of their 2017 Super Bowl run with an ACL tear. Despite back, knee, quadriceps and biceps injuries, he managed to start all 16 regular-season games and both playoff contests. But he missed 19.6 percent of the offensive snaps.
He missed the entire fourth quarter of the Saints game Sunday with a back injury.
Peters, who is a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer, is a warhorse. He’s not the same player he was five years ago. But when he’s healthy, he’s still pretty good. The problem is, you can’t count on him to stay healthy anymore.
If Peters wants to return for a 16th season, and if the Eagles want to bring him back, he almost certainly would have to agree to a contract restructuring.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been Peters’ replacement the last two years when he’s been hurt. He’s been adequate at best. But the Eagles seem to prefer him in the role he’s been serving: backup swing tackle.
The tackle they have high hopes for is 6-8, 346-pound Jordan Mailata, the former Australian rugby player they took in the seventh round of the draft last year.
Mailata, much like Peters when he was young, is an athletic freak. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland loves the guy. But he still is learning the game and was placed on injured reserve late in the season with the same injury Carson Wentz suffered: a fractured vertebra in his back.