In a book, written by john Feinstien, titled “Next Man Up”, he chronicles an entire season with an NFL team. He is there for all of the injuries that take their toll and he’s there for when hard decisions have to be made regarding personnel. Sometimes, good people have to be cut for the good of the overall team.
It’s a situation, not unlike the one the Eagles currently find themselves in, with the recent release of OL Todd Herremans.
Yes, that Todd Herremans, he of the 124 games played over the last decade for the Eagles. His release saves the team 2.8 million dollars against the cap. And, for a guy that spent a lot of time on IR last season, and also a guy that will turn 33 in mid-season, this move really comes as no surprise.
The critical factor now, is how does the team replace Herremans, or, to use the book title, who is the “Next Man Up”?
Before I give who I’d like to see brought in for the team, I’d like to just start with my criteria. Certainly, I’m no general manager. I have opinions, just as each one of you do. My main goal, when looking at this as an overall project, was, how could I get the O-line younger, but still retain experience? When Evan Mathis went down last season, and the team not having Lane Johnson for 4 games, the O-line was a shambles.
First, I would make a bid on G Mike Iupati. He’ll be 28 in May, he’s 6’5″, 330, and played 15 games for SF last season. The 49ers are so close to the cap, they can almost touch it. No way they can afford to bring him back.
One might have the team bring in Brian Bulaga. Yes, the Green bay player is the youngest to ever play in a Super Bowl. But, injuries in 2012 (hip) and 2013 (ACL tear) are certainly a concern. The packers say they want him back. Aaron Rodgers says he wants him back. So, that may make bringing in Bulaga a bit of a stretch.
Or, I get a little more creative. I go after C Stefen Wisniewski. Yes, I know the team has Jason Kelce. But, how did the team do when Kelce was lost? He played 12 games last season, meaning the team had to use David Molk at both C and G. Molk played in the LG spot vacated by Evan Mathis when he was injured. Look at Molk’s track record: 2 years in the league, 7th rounder, was originally with the Chargers before being cut, and the Eagles claimed him in early 2014. Bringing in Wisniewski gives the Eagles a guy that’s only 26 years old, a guy that was a 2nd round pick, 6’3″, 315, he’s durable, playing 61 games in 4 years for Oakland, and, he’s a Penn State alum.
The team could also go after Orlando Franklin from Denver, but, rumor has it he’s looking to make this contract his “money” contract. And, at 6’7″, 320, playing in a whopping 63 games in 4 years, he certainly deserves it. He’s ranked towards the bottom of my list. No disrespect to him, but, the team needs to spend the big money in the secondary.
How about a guy like Clint Boling from the Bengals? 6’5″, 310, and turns 26 in May? Or, how about James Carpenter from Seattle? At 6’5″, 321, he’s completing a 4-year, 7.642 million dollar deal with the club. Bump that number some, and you could have a solid guy on your O-line.
My dark horse in all of this is Gabe Carimi. Yes, people think of him as a bust, because the Bears took him in the 1st round in 2011. 3 years later, a 1st round pick is traded to the Bucs for a 6th round pick. What a fall, right? Then, he’s ultimately cut by Tampa, and played last season in Atlanta. Why bring him in? Because he’s an inexpensive player. And, if you’re looking for depth, I’d take him over some of the guys that admirably tried to fill in last season when people starting getting injured. Take a flyer. Bring him to camp. If he doesn’t work, then, it’s no big deal.
This is, by no means, a call to cut every O-lineman on the Eagles roster. It’s simply taking a look at who is available, and who may be the best fit at the position for both starting and reserve purposes. Bringing in new, fresh, and younger O-linemen could mean all the difference in letting LeSean McCoy find the holes that were once there, and having him make big plays. It could mean all the difference in keeping the quarterback upright, whoever that person may be. I’m still for Nick Foles. But, rumors abount about Marcus Mariota. So, let’s say the team does make the big move, and goes and gets him. Don’t you want reliable guys up front to protect your investment?
As I stated earlier, I’m no GM. This is merely me, basically constructing my own Madden team, if you will. But, fantasy or not, the fact remains: the Eagles simply must do better on the O-line. Replacing Herremans will be easy, from a business standpoint. Sentimentally, not so much. But, I’m sure even he would say that the 5 guys up front all have to do better next season to return the team to the division title, and back to the playoffs.