Even though many NFL teams aren’t practicing in their facilities, we already have the first substantial season-ending injury, as it was announced yesterday that Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles and will miss the entire 2020 campaign. Brooks, who is widely regarded as one of the best offensive guards in the game, now leaves an Eagles offensive line — that was pretty good on paper — with a gaping hole.
Philadelphia does have a possible in-house replacement in Matt Pryor. The 2018 sixth-round pick filled in for Brooks in last year’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and performed admirably. With a couple of years of experience in the Eagles’ offense, he makes the most sense to take over for Brooks, but Philadelphia should still be looking to add some competition and depth.
There are some free agent options on the market — most notably, former Saint Larry Wafford. He would cost a pretty penny, however, and may not be a realistic option. The Eagles have also kept in contact with former left tackle Jason Peters, who is reportedly open to switching positions, but who knows if that is a feasible or realistic replacement. However, if Philadelphia doesn’t want to open up their pockets for Wafford, and they don’t feel confident in any of the other free-agent options, a trade might be in their best interest to add depth.
The Falcons have a couple of guards that should be available. Their battle for the left guard spot is deep, featuring rookie Matt Hennessy, Matt Gono, Justin McCray, James Carpenter, and Jamon Brown. While trading Hennessy or Gono makes zero sense because of their youth and upside, the Falcons should be open to trading the other three, especially the latter two.
Carpenter and Brown both spent time starting last year, and while neither inspired much confidence, they are quality depth pieces that the Eagles can acquire for just about nothing. The Falcons should be looking to move one, given they have plenty of options, so they can open up some cap space and fill out the rest of their roster. Brown or Carpenter for a conditional seventh-round selection sounds just fine to me.
Hell, even if the Falcons had to attach a late-round selection of their own to get the Eagles to bite, it might be worth it. Ridding of Carpenter could save the team close to $4 million this year, and trading Brown could save nearly $5 million. That would leave the Falcons with plenty of money to make a splash in free agency.
There is the possibility that the Falcons suffer an injury on the interior, and they eventually regret a deal like this. This is the first year in a while that their offensive line depth is a glaring positive, something Thomas Dimitroff has emphasized over the last couple of offseasons. However, it won’t look good if both Brown and Carpenter are backing up to begin the season, eating over $12 million in cap space. If Dimitroff has the opportunity to cut ties with one of the egregious signings he made last offseason, he should definitely be considering it.