Philadelphia Eagles: When does it make sense to trade Andre Dillard?

Aug 12, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard (77) blocks New York Jets defensive end Bradlee Anae (50) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard (77) blocks New York Jets defensive end Bradlee Anae (50) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite the disappointing start to his career, Philadelphia Eagles’ tackle Andre Dillard has kept his head down, worked on his craft, and now finds himself a desirable starting-caliber tackle.

Despite his improved level of play, there is no starting role in Philadelphia for the 26-year-old as the Eagles are currently set with both Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata on the outside. For now, his role is that of the primary swing tackle on the bench. This is, of course, a role that Dillard is capable of, but he could likely be even more in a different situation than Philadelphia.

This season, Dillard is entering the final year of his rookie contract after the Eagles declined his fifth-year option. While a return to Philadelphia is not impossible, it’s not overly likely either, as some team will likely be willing to offer more money — and a starting role — than the Eagles. So if he is unlikely to return next season, should the team look to obtain some sort of asset for him via trade? A desirable player at a critical position, Dillard could certainly fetch a solid return, but should the Eagles be looking to move him?

When does it make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles to trade Andre Dillard?

Trading away Dillard sounds fine on the surface. You’re moving a player who doesn’t often play for a draft pick which everyone loves. In reality, however, the decision is not that simple. It simply all comes down, as it often does, to the cost/benefit analysis.

Having a capable or better starting left tackle is a must in the NFL. Having that level of player off the bench is invaluable. If that player is able to play both sides, that only furthers their value. This explains Philadelphia’s hesitancy to trade Dillard so far especially considering the team’s history.

When the Philadelphia Eagles made their run that ended with a victory in Super Bowl 52, Hall of Fame left tackle, Jason Peters suffered a torn ACL and MCL in a Week 7 victory over the now Washington Commanders. Without Peters, there was little confidence that the team would be able to accomplish anything truly meaningful. Thanks to the contributions of swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the team was able to carry on, and history was made for Philadelphia that season.

Will the Eagles find themselves in that same position this season? Perhaps not, but it would be foolish to enter the year without winning expectations.

On the other end of the argument, the return for Dillard has to be discussed. There are several teams currently in need of Dillard’s services. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been suggested as a potential landing spot, as have the Chicago Bears. Most recently, the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints have also been connected to Dillard. Both teams recently lost their starting left tackles for the foreseeable future due to injury, putting them in need of a player of Dillard’s caliber.

The question remains, however, what would these teams be willing to pay for Dillard, and at what point are the Eagles better off accepting a deal?

Part of the equation is what the Eagles would want in return. Would they value draft picks or players in return? Speculated possibilities this offseason have suggested everything from a fourth-round pick to Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt and a sixth.

A fourth-round pick is nothing to sniff at, but it’s not worth losing Dillard. Considering the desperation of some of the teams mentioned — looking at you, Dallas — a third or even a second should be the ask. Will the Eagles get a second-rounder for Dillard? Almost certainly not. However, they’re also not in a position where they need to trade Dillard.

As for the Cleveland package, trading Dillard for a win-now player certainly makes sense, but a running back is not the ideal position of return. While the Eagles need to add to their running back corps, it’s far easier to attain a back than other positions the team needs, such as safety.

If Chicago Bears starting free safety Eddie Jackson was available, for instance, that type of player swap could and should motivate Philadelphia more than a fourth or a running back.

So again, when does it make sense for the team to trade Andre Dillard?

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Unless a team offers a second-round pick — which is highly unlikely — or the team can land, say, a quality starting safety in return, the Philadelphia Eagles are undoubtedly better off retaining their former first-round pick.