Philadelphia Eagles: Trading Brandon Brooks would be an epic mistake

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2020 Philadelphia Eagles were bad.

They had holes pretty much across the board, from the depth chart through the coaching staff all the way to the front office, and unfortunately, many of these issues have gotten worse, not better, in the lead up to the 2021 calendar year.

But if there was one position group fan could hold their hat on and look to as an improved unit moving into a season of uncertainty, it was the offensive line.

Why? Because at least they’d be returning a healthy unit.

After stumbling through change after change after change over the grueling slog that was the 2021 campaign, the Eagles’ Week 17 offensive line was a shell of its preseason counterpart; a unit dubbed one of the best individual position groups in the NFL.

With Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, and Jack Driscoll all back to full strength and Jason Kelce fighting off the itch to retire for at least one more season, surely the Birds would be able to rebound from their disastrous 65 sack season and at least give Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders a clean pocket to operate from, right?

If that’s the case, why are there reports that Howie Roseman has had conversations about trading away arguably the Eagles’ best pure football player, Brandon Brooks?

*shakes head* what is even going on?

Moving on from Brandon Brooks hurts the Philadelphia Eagles more than it helps.

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Before this goes full-on “Pepe Silvia“, I’d like to give a shout-out to Nate Herbig, who was arguably the biggest surprise – good one at least – of the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles season.

A UDFA out of Stanford, Herbig switched from guard to center as a full-time member of the Eagles’ active roster for the entirety of the 2019 NFL season before reverting back to his natural position in 2020 to compete with Matt Pryor and company at right guard.

While his sophomore season wasn’t perfect, Herbig was by far the Birds’ most consistent interior offensive lineman not named Kelce and unquestionably proved that he is an NFL player after some initial doubts about his athletic profile.

With that being said, Herbig is no Brandon Brooks.

Even at the age of 31, Brooks very well might be the most athletic guard in the NFL, with a wickedly sculpted body and a viciousness in the run game that really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.

The fact that Brooks is generating trade buzz is understandable, as there isn’t a team in the NFL who wouldn’t like his services and his cap hit ($14.5 million) is quite large for a team that’s still $34 million in the hole according to Over the Cap. What should be incredibly surprising, however, is that Roseman has reportedly taken said calls instead of simply sending back a laughing emoji.

Why? Well, allow me to elaborate.

For all of the criticism – justifiable or not – Carson Wentz got for his performance with the Eagles in 2020, it’s hard to pin all of the offense’s blame on his shoulders, considering just how often the fifth-year QB was sacked.

Though he does deserve some blame, as does Roseman for assembling an offense without a true number one pass-catching option, it’s hard to have the time to process plays and make good decisions when you are being chased for your life behind the line of scrimmage and sacked an average of four times per game.

While the Birds’ offense will surely look markedly different under new head coach Nick Sirianni, would it really be wise to put Jalen Hurts in the same situation? I mean, think about it, assuming the Eagles don’t go QB at six overall, or some outside signal-caller doesn’t come in and win the job outright, the 2021 season should be all about seeing if Hurts can be a franchise quarterback.

How, praytell, is that possible if he can’t make it to his second read without having to tuck it and run away from a speeding Aaron Donald bursting through the right side?

And losing Brooks doesn’t just affect the right guard position either. No, think of an offensive line like a single unit, a chain if you will, where one faulty link can put its neighbors in an unadventurous position and cause total system collapse across the board. If a player like Jamon Brown makes the wrong read – or just doesn’t block at all – it forces Kelce and/or Johnson to overcompensate and thus frees up their intended blockee a free run to the quarterback.

Saying Herbig is a fair replacement for Brooks wouldn’t just decrease a single position from, say, a 92 to a 78 – to take a page from our friend John Madden- but would instead make life harder for both Kelce and Johnson, who I think the Eagles would like to retain until they are again a team of championship caliber.

Could Brooks fetch a nice bounty on the trade market? I imagine so, but is there any guarantee that any guard drafted with that pick will become as good as Brooks, if not better, especially when you consider the Eagles would be straddled with $12.25 million in dead money if they executed such a deal?

When you consider Pro Football Focus named Brooks the best offensive lineman in football for a 2019 season fresh on an ACL tear, I imagine the chances of that happening are rather slim.

Next. Brandon Brooks’ return is better than any free agent. dark

Is there a world where some shiny pick captures Howie Roseman’s eye, and he trades Brandon Brooks for cap relief and a shot at selecting a future All-Pro? Most definitely, but I certainly don’t want to live in that world, and I imagine neither do most Philadelphia Eagles fans. Even if guards are about as valued as safeties and running backs in the modern NFL, Brooks is unquestionably one of the Eagles’ best players, and trading him away in his prime feels more like waving the white flag than a smart exercise in long-term team building.