Philadelphia Eagles: Sure, trade Andre Dillard, but for what?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

On Thursday, mere hours prior to the Philadelphia Eagles‘ preseason bout against the New England Patriots, the City of Brotherly Love’s resident investigative reporter, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, reported that Howie Roseman had received calls about the availability of 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard.

Now granted, this isn’t too surprising. Considering Jordan Mailata has effectively locked up the Eagles’ left tackle spot, rolling into the regular season with a one position backup who is under contract through the 2022 NFL season – 2023 if his fifth-year option is picked up – it might just be a better utilization of assets to throw Dillard’s name on the trade block and see what sort of return he can garner.

That, my friends, is the keyword. See.

While I’m all for trading Dillard if the deal is right, what sort of return is worthy of the former 21st overall pick? And if the Eagles do trade Dillard, who becomes their backup left tackle with less than a month left to go before the start of the regular season?

Trading Andre Dillard could be a tricky proposition for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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As things presently stand, the free agent market for tackles is incredibly light.

How light? Well, let’s just say Jason Peters just signed a contract to play left tackle for the Chicago Bears this fall. Can you say bottom-of-the-barrel?

If the Eagles decided to trade away Andre Dillard today but didn’t feel confident with Jack Driscoll and Matt Pryor serving as their tackles coming off the bench – rightfully so – they’d be greeted with players like Russell OkungRicky Wagner, and Demar Dotson to fill out their depth chart.

Of those three, I guess Wagner is probably the best option of the bunch, but none are what anyone would call even starting caliber.

I guess the team could always demand another offensive tackle in a trade centered around Dillard, but what are the chances the Eagles can get back a quality backup in such a trade from a team desperate for offensive line talent? That seems sort of counterintuitive, no?

Then again, with “quite a few teams” looking to get in on Dillard should he be available available; maybe there’s a deal to be had that could include a decent enough backup plus either a pick or a viable contributor moving forward. I mean, that’d surely be a tricky ask, but a robust market certainly creates optionality.

So, let’s say the Eagles are able to do just that, trade Mailata for a viable backup swing tackle – a Dennis Kelly-type player, if you will – and, say, a fourth-round pick. Does that make the Eagles a better team than simply holding onto his rights up for the rest of the season?

I’d venture to say no.

While the Eagles (probably) aren’t going to be winning the Super Bowl this season – though one can never say never – they also aren’t a team looking to completely clear the shelves and start over a few years down the line once their core of players come together. As fans unfortunately saw last season, having a bad offensive line is the quickest path to being an unwatchable team where evaluations are effectively asterisked as a result. Even if Dillard doesn’t play a lot, having him around to serve as a foil for Mailata should he suffer an injury and/or a poor string of games could be enough to keep the team salient in a division that isn’t particularly lethal, right?

… unless the Eagles stink out loud and are, say, a two-win team when the trade deadline rolls around. Should that happen and a team like comes in with an overpay offer to replace an injured tackle, it might just be in Howie Roseman’s best interest to cash out and secure a long-term contributor at tackle with the pick they receive back in a trade.

With no real barometer for how good the Eagles should be in 2021, the first month of the regular season could be incredibly telling as to Roseman’s eagerness to sell or buy at the deadline.

Next. A respectful tribute to Jalen Mills. dark

At this point, no players should be too precious for the Philadelphia Eagles. With only a handful of players who are truly untouchable and a few dozen more who are effectively biding their time before their next opportunity, the 2021 NFL season should be looked at as a chance for Howie Roseman and company to establish a new core for the future. DeVonta Smith is in that camp. Jordan Mailata is almost certainly in that camp too. If Andre Dillard isn’t, then I’d say there’s no issue with testing the market to see how it fares for a 25-year-old former first-round pick just a few years removed from being one of the best pass blockers in the NCAA.