Philadelphia Eagles: Trading Ryan Bates was a silly mistake

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

Do you remember Ryan Bates? Bigger guy, 6-foot-4, studied Labor & Employment Relations at Penn State? He was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for about a week and a half – actual time? Three months – back in 2019 before being traded to the Buffalo Bills for former San Francisco 49ers third-round pick Eli Harold.

If not, I don’t blame you; he played some preseason ball for the Birds and looked like a fringe roster/practice squad guy before being traded to the Bills and for the most part, non-PSU fans moved on without much of a second thought.

Well, since then, the one-time undrafted free agent has quietly become a player in the Queen City, usurping former second-round pick Cody Ford for a starting spot at right guard in Week 15 and holding the role through the team’s playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. After hitting restricted free agency for the first time in his career, the Chicago Bears submitted an offer sheet for Bates’ services, which the Bills opted to match to the tune of a new four-year contract.

Would Ryan Bates have been afforded the same opportunity in the City of Brotherly Love had the Philadelphia Eagles opted to retain his services back in 2019? Who’s to say; considering how often players like Sua Otepa have been relied on over the past three seasons for consequential games, it’s fair to assume the pride of Archbishop Wood, um, would have seen the field at some point. But now, with Brandon Brooks officially retired and Jason Kelce‘s career deep into its back nine, having another 25-year-old lineman with long-term starting upside at multiple positions certainly would be an asset worth having.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line could use some additional depth.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ starting offensive line appears more or less set heading into the 2022 NFL season.

Barring the addition of a player like Iowa’s supremely talented center Tyler Linderbaum, or an athletically compatible guard like Cole Strange or Dylan Parham, the Eagles will likely enter Week 1 with Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Isaac Seumalo at right guard, and Lane Johnson holding things down on the right side.

Objectively speaking, that’s a good line, maybe not as good as 2021’s version with Brandon Brooks at right guard but considering that unit didn’t even make it out of September before multiple players were placed on IR, it should hold up fine.

But behind those five players? Well, things get a whole lot less clear.

Assuming no one is traded in the next few months, which is a 50-50 proposition in my humble opinion, the Eagles will roll into 2022 with Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, and Nate Herbig locked in at key reserve roles, and will then rely on the talent pool of Jack Anderson, Kayode Awosika, Le’Raven Clark, and Brett Toth to fill out the final spot or two on the 53 man roster.

In 2022, that depth should hold up fairly well, and that unit as a whole could even be considered one of the better collections of offensive linemen in the NFL, but when you consider that Dillard is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and Herbig is set to play on a one-year tender, that depth could take a massive hit in the not too distant future.

Fortunately, the Eagles have 10 draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and are considered one of the premier destinations for both UDFAs and veteran free agents looking to learn under the tutelage of Jeff Stoutland. Even if they don’t walk away from Day 1 or even Day 2 of the draft with a new offensive lineman, securing a Driscoll-type with good athletic measurables in the fourth-seventh round could help to fill out the depth chart with young, cost-controlled players capable of learning Stoutland’s system and potentially contributing down the line.

Remember, Kelce wasn’t drafted until the sixth round and Mailata lasted 42 picks longer into the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft; quality offensive linemen can be found all over the draft, and even among those players who don’t get drafted at all, as Ryan Bates’ new contract proves.

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In the grand scheme of things, moving off of Ryan Bates isn’t going to make or break the Philadelphia Eagles’ future. It’s awesome that he’s found a long-term home in Buffalo and will be afforded an opportunity to play with Temple product Dion Dawkins – and Josh Allen – for the prime of his career. With that being said, Howie Roseman can’t afford to ignore the offensive line in this year’s NFL Draft, especially if he intends to trade Andre Dillard to a contender looking for a plug-‘n-play left tackle.