Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard is heating up his own trade market

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

By giving Jordan Mailata the final preseason game off, Nick Sirianni and the Philadelphia Eagles made their intentions clear: He will be starting for the team in Week 1 versus the Atlanta Falcons.

While Sirianni’s unwillingness to commit to this fact earlier in the preseason did generate minor waves across our fair city, the team ultimately made the correct decision, and Mailata will earn his second-straight Week 1 start four years removed from being a seventh-round pick with no legitimate experience playing American football.

But hey, just because that particular battle is over doesn’t mean Mailata’s primary challenger, Andre Dillard, was just going to roll over and accept his fate.

No, after missing the first two games of the preseason due to injury, the Birds’ former first-round pick out of Washington State showed up, showed out, and proved why he’s still a left tackle worthy of a robust trade market moving forward.

To trade or not to trade Andre Dillard, that is the Philadelphia Eagles’ question.

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If you’re going to be a backup offensive lineman in the NFL, versatility is king.

Sure, sometimes a team will carry a guy who can only really play center due to his lack of size, but as a general rule, only starters get to be side-specific, as only so many players can be active for any given game versus the number on the roster.

Jack Driscoll can play all five positions across the line if need be. Sua Opeta can play three, as can Landon Dickerson once he returns to the field. Heck, even Matt Pryor, the Eagles’ sixth-round pick out of TCU in 2018, can play four positions across the offensive line. Granted, he can’t play any of the four positions particularly well, which is why he may not be on the team when all of the roster cuts shake out, but he can technically play all four positions nonetheless.

Andre Dillard isn’t that guy.

No, when asked about playing in place of Lane Johnson during his rookie season, Dillard compared kicking it to the right side to having to write with your non-dominant hand, a metaphor he backed up with some truly horrible play versus the Seahawks.

While keeping Dillard around could provide the Birds with one of the best insurance policies in the NFL, is that more valuable than a Day 2 draft pick and/or a player at a position of need; a player like C.J. Henderson from the Jacksonville Jaguars perhaps (more on that here)?

That, my friends, is the potentially season-defining question.

Just one season ago, the Eagles’ season was effectively derailed by a lack of depth on the offensive line. Their quarterbacks were sacked multiple times per game, their defense was tested far more than in seasons past, and when the season came to an end, the franchise underwent a shakeup the likes of which we haven’t seen around these parts in a very long time.

If Mailata goes down in Week 1 – football gods forbid – would the Eagles really be willing to risk another lost season in order to gain a future asset?

Then again, what if they can secure a solid enough backup in a trade centered around another asset? It’s not like the Eagles are going to win the Super Bowl this season; why squander Dillard’s value when it’s at its highest since being drafted if he doesn’t play a single snap this fall?

See what I mean? This is not an easy decision.

Next. Kenneth Gainwell, 19 may soon be yours. dark

If Andre Dillard had stunk out loud in his preseason debut, maybe this wouldn’t be as big of an issue. Maybe the offers for his services wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, and the Philadelphia Eagles would have simply rolled into the regular season with their former first-round pick on their roster. But because Dillard looked like a legit NFL left tackle, his market will only grow over the forthcoming days. Needless to say, this is a good problem to have.