The reigning NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles are suffering several key losses as the free agency tampering begins, but the first day of free agency in Philadelphia was ultimately a good one due to the return of star center Jason Kelce. While the Eagles are prepared to move on to younger players at several other positions, losing the locker room presence of Kelce would have had an impact beyond the field.
2023 NFL Free Agency: Teams Prioritize O-Linemen on Day 1
Working in the NFL trenches is paying dividends.
As the legal tampering period frenzy began Monday, protecting the quarterbacks who really make the big bucks clearly was a priority. So the league’s best player, MVP Patrick Mahomes, got a stud blocker to replace a likely departing stud blocker: Jawaan Taylor is in, and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., is out.
Mahomes won’t have his protector on the right side, though, as tackle Andrew Wylie will follow former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to the Washington Commanders.
Russell Wilson, who rarely received solid blocking during his first season with the Denver Broncos, now will have tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers in front of him.
Desmond Ridder – or whoever winds up behind center in Atlanta – will have second-team All-Pro guard Chris Lindstrom back after he got a new deal from the Atlanta Falcons.
And Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts can breathe easier with perennial All-Pro center Jason Kelce announcing he will be back for 2023.
Yep, the Hogs are getting fed nicely.
The 25-year-old Taylor will leave Jacksonville for what ESPN reported is an $80 million, four-year deal, with $60 million guaranteed. He could replace either Brown or Wylie; Taylor played the right side for the Jaguars in the best of his four pro seasons. His durability also was a selling point, with Taylor playing in every game since he was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft.
Wylie, 28, will get $24 million over three years from the Commanders, who, for now, plan to go with untested second-year quarterback Sam Howell. Wylie has been with the Chiefs since 2017 after brief stays with the Colts, Browns and Chargers, and was a favorite of Kansas City coach Andy Reid.
Denver’s line was a sieve, a major contributor to the worst season of Wilson’s previously stellar career. So getting right tackle McGlinchey from the San Francisco 49ers for a reported $87.5 million over five years, with $50 million guaranteed, is a coup. McGlinchey has been rated by many as the best O-lineman available in this crop, and after missing most of 2021 because of a torn quad, he rebounded with the best of his pro seasons in 2022. At age 28, he figures to be a leader up front for Denver.
“[Sean Payton] did the first thing you do when you go into a new team like that — you solidify the offensive line. Everything starts with the offensive line” said Mike Martz, former NFL head coach and analyst for The 33rd Team. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do to bring in those two solid guys, particularly Powers, I like him a lot.”
Barry Wilner was a sportswriter for the Associated Press for 46 years. He has covered virtually every major sporting event, including 14 Olympics, 9 World Cups, 34 Super Bowls, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup finals, and has written 75 books. Follow him on Twitter @Wilner88
Jason Kelce Will Return to Eagles for 2023 Season
2023 NFL Free Agency: Top 9 Offensive Linemen Hitting Open Market
Free agency is right around the corner, so let’s rank the top nine available offensive linemen on the open market, or at least the ones with the potential to make it there. We will start at the bottom and work our way to No. 1.
Top 9 Free Agent Offensive Linemen
9. Isaiah Wynn, OT, New England Patriots
Isaiah Wynn, a former first-round pick from Georgia, flashes a ton of athleticism and a lot of pass-blocking prowess. He’s really good when pulling out into space, but it just hasn’t come together for him with the New England Patriots. He battled some injuries this past year and missed eight games. They switched him to the right side, which didn’t go quite as well.
Wynn has plenty of talent and the ability to be successful. If he goes to a team where he feels more comfortable, meshes better with the coaching staff, and stays healthy, he could be a valuable player. This league is about throwing the ball and protecting the quarterback, and he does that at a pretty high level.
8. Kaleb McGary, OT, Atlanta Falcons
Kaleb McGary had a really strong 2022 season, which was bolstered by the Atlanta Falcons‘ offensive scheme. He was a tremendous run blocker in their heavy outside zone scheme. It’s a fun offense to play in, but it makes offensive linemen look better.
I benefited from that when I blocked for Kyle Shanahan, and it’s become a trend with those offenses that rely a lot on the outside zone and the play action. McGary has been a decent player. The weakest part of his game has been pass-blocking. That took a step up this past season, both because of the offense and because he’s improved.
7. Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Las Vegas Raiders
Jermaine Eluemunor has been a good player for a while. He was an occasional starter with the Patriots for a few years. He played all the positions well, but he finally got a starting job for the Las Vegas Raiders this past season. Eluemunor struggled in a couple of early games, but he settled into his role nicely and finished strong.
He doesn’t quite look like an offensive tackle. He’s a little bit shorter (6-foot-4), he’s a little bit stouter (345), but he plays the position well. Eluemunor has a ton of leverage and is super strong, allowing him to move defenders off the ball in the running game. In the passing game, he’s stout at the point of attack if a defender tries to bull-rush him, and he’s got the lateral ability to mirror rushers.
6. Andrew Wylie, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Andrew Wylie is criminally underrated. I know exactly what that position is asked to do in the Kansas City Chiefs offense. Wylie’s done a pretty good job of handling it. If you look at a few of the games he hasn’t performed well, you’ll see a mixture of things that went into that.
No. 1, he ran into a string of top-tier, if not Hall of Fame pass rushers. He went against Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, Maxx Crosby and Von Miller in about a five-week stretch, so there will be a couple of bad reps, which is OK. We all have bad reps, and Wylie is going to keep fighting. He’s equally good in the run game and the passing game.
You know what you’ll get out of Wylie at this point, which is a valuable thing to have in the locker room and on the field.
5. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
I’ve always loved Jawaan Taylor‘s game, partly because he had my former offensive line coach, George Walker, coaching him. So maybe there is a little bit of bias in that perspective because I see all the same pass sets and techniques I used to take. He has been a good player for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taylor utilizes a vertical set, which can look a little funky and be a little bit off-putting for people that aren’t used to it. He’s pretty good in pass protection, which is important as an offensive tackle.
Taylor can move defenders off the ball in the running game. He is competitive enough to be a well-rounded player. One team will be pretty lucky to sign him.
4. Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers
Mike McGlinchey was billed coming out of Notre Dame as a sturdy, steady offensive lineman with an elite frame and athleticism. It hasn’t quite all come together as expected during his time with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, it’s not fair to compare him to Zack Martin or Quenton Nelson, but those are the guys that he played with in college.
McGlinchey has turned into a solid offensive tackle in San Francisco’s scheme. He gets bolstered a little bit because he’s not asked to do as much drawback protection. He’s not asked to do the hard stuff quite as often as other teams. When healthy, he’s progressed and improved his game over the past few years. Health is one of McGlinchey’s concerns, along with consistency in pass protection.
Any team that signs him will get a good run blocker and someone who is pretty well-rounded.
3. Isaac Seumalo, OG, Philadelphia Eagles
We spent all season talking about how great that Philadelphia Eagles offensive line was, and Isaac Seumalo is right up there with Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce. Plus, he happened to play between them, which was pretty nice for Philadelphia. Seumalo, who went to Oregon State, has been a good player for a while who has improved every single season.
Since he’s from the Philadelphia offensive line, you know what you’re getting. They’re going to be tough. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to know how to run every single scheme — inside zone, outside zone, blocking down, pulling trap blocks, power. Anything you could ask of an offensive lineman in the run game, he’s going to have done and done it at a high level.
His pass-blocking ability is good enough to stifle the Aaron Donald– and Chris Jones-type game-wreckers. We saw him do that against Jones in the Super Bowl.
He’s one of the top guys in this class. For me, he’s the top guard.
2. Orlando Brown, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Orlando Brown has been to four Pro Bowls in a row and just won a Super Bowl. His situation is interesting because last year it seemed like he was gunning for that top-of-the-market left tackle money. The Chiefs weren’t willing to do that so they placed the franchise tag on him when they couldn’t figure out a long-term deal.
When you look at the truly elite guys, Trent Williams, Tyron Smith (when he’s healthy) and David Bakhtiari (when he’s healthy), Brown comes in under that group. But the next guy up typically gets the highest contract. That’s where the standstill comes in because if you’re not necessarily the elite of the elite, but it’s free agency time, you tend to get paid as the next highest guy. So he’s in the right asking for a lucrative deal.
It seems like the Chiefs did their best to sign him to a long-term deal, even though they won’t tag him again this year. Brown is going to make a lot of money. He’s been a mainstay there for two years. He played right tackle with the Baltimore Ravens and left tackle with Kansas City. You know what you’re getting: a solid player who is good in the run and pass games.
He has some limitations because of his size and athleticism. But he understands how to use that big frame, and the Chiefs want to keep that pocket nice and clear and allow Patrick Mahomes to step up. Brown allows them to do that.
1. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles
Should Jason Kelce be on this list? Is he a true free agent? There’s no chance he’s going anywhere other than Philadelphia or into some sort of studio as an analyst if he retires. But he is on the list because he is a free agent coming into this year. He’s the best offensive lineman that could be available, however unlikely that is.
He’s 35. He’s 6-foot-3 and doesn’t even weigh 300 pounds, but he’s still an awesome player. He can run block, pass block, everything you could want. He looks like a running back when he gets out in space. It’s incredible to watch how a smaller lineman can move defenders off the ball to create leverage.
If you want to understand how offensive line play works, how leverage works, and how you can overcome a size deficit just watch Kelce. He plays the game the best way that he can — with physicality, leverage and smarts.
He does everything he can in the passing game, calling out protections. So, he’s on top of really every facet of the offense. Having a center that can do all those things is so valuable.
Plus, on fourth-and-1 and third-and-1, what are the Eagles going to do? QB sneak. And everyone talks about, “Oh, it’s so easy.”
But Philly’s doing it the best we’ve ever seen in NFL history. Kelce is the guy snapping, and he’s at the point of that blocking scheme. So, you can put a lot into your offense because you have Kelce there. For that reason, he’s my top free-agent offensive lineman heading into the 2023 NFL offseason.
Mitchell Schwartz is a former NFL All-Pro offensive tackle who played nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. He was a member of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV-winning team. Follow him on Twitter at @MitchSchwartz71.
Former All-Pro Tackle Ranks Top 9 Free Agent Offensive Linemen
Former All-Pro offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz breaks down the best free agent offensive linemen set to hit the open market, including one AFC West sleeper, several stud right tackles, and a pair of Philadelphia Eagles.
NFL Offseason Fixer-Upper: Three Ways to Fix Eagles in 2023
In an ongoing offseason series, experts from The 33rd Team offer three things each team can do to improve in 2023.
AFC: BAL | BUF | CIN | CLE | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LAC | LV | MIA | NE | NYJ | PIT | TEN
NFC: ATL | CAR | DAL | DET | GB | LAR | MIN | NYG | SEA | SF | TB
Here is my list of three things that would improve the Philadelphia Eagles:
3 Ways to Fix the Eagles
1. Extend Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts is deserving of a contract extension. There’s a lot of talk about what that salary number should look like. If they sign him, that frees up a little more cap space for other guys. They have a lot of free agents.
This also assures everybody on the roster that this is “our guy.” You don’t want a Lamar Jackson situation moving forward. Get that deal done and move on.
2. Restructure Some Contracts
The Eagles only have $5.4 million in cap space. There is the potential to get to about $25 or $30 million if you restructure some of these deals. Lane Johnson, you know you need him. Darius Slay, you need him. You can restructure some of these deals where it makes sense and create other opportunities to sign some of these free agents.
3. Figure out Jason Kelce’s plan
He is your center. This is going to impact everyone else after. Does Jason Kelce still want to play? If he does, you sign him and make sure that offensive line stays intact and Hurts is still protected.
Greg Jennings is a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Packers, Vikings and Dolphins. A two-time Pro Bowl player, Jennings was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team and is inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @GregJennings.
Put it on the Line: Super Bowl LVII Offensive, Defensive Line Rankings
On Sunday, you can be sure the big boys up front will be putting it all on the line with everything they’ve got. Since there are only two teams left, this space will be a little bit different this week. Yes, I’ll still rank who I think is better on each line. However, I’m going to focus on the matchups between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles’ lines since that is what will matter most for Super Bowl LVII.
Offensive Line Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 1
LT: Jordan Mailata
LG: Landon Dickerson
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Isaac Seumalo
RT: Lane Johnson
They started the postseason as my top offensive line, and they’re ending it at the top. They’ve been battle-tested by some tough fronts this playoffs (including the previously top-ranked San Francisco 49ers), and they have passed the test, earning the right to play in the big game.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 3
LG: Joe Thuney
RG: Trey Smith
RT: Andrew Wylie
The Chiefs didn’t generate much up front in the running game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that was OK because they succeeded in their top two objectives: winning the game and keeping Patrick Mahomes from suffering a setback to his injured ankle. In fact, coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that Mahomes hasn’t been limited by injury this week.
Defensive Line Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 2
Eagles DL: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Davis, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph
Eagles Edges: Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Robert Quinn
The Eagles’ front has gotten to the quarterback often this year, and that trend continued in the NFC Championship game. Their ability to get to the passer significantly altered the game, resulting in 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey playing some quarterback after Brock Purdy suffered a torn UCL ligament and Josh Johnson suffered a concussion.
The Eagles have a ferocious front, especially when they get to pin those ears back, so they end the postseason in the top spot.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 4
Chiefs DL: Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders, Derrick Nnadi, Brandon Williams
Chiefs Edges: Frank Clark, George Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap, Mike Danna
A Chiefs front built to play with a lead did exactly that, putting Joe Burrow under pressure consistently throughout the night. Unsurprisingly, Jones led the charge, not only sacking Burrow twice but making his presence felt on numerous occasions. Those were Jones’ first two postseason sacks in his 14th career playoff game.
Matchups to Watch
When the Eagles Have the Ball
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this Eagles offensive front is fast, physical and capable of causing problems for even the best defensive fronts. The Chiefs front’s strength is their pass rush, but they could stand to be a bit more consistent. The Eagles offensive line’s consistency and ability to take over a game give them a clear advantage in this matchup.
Something to watch from the Eagles: I expect Philadelphia to attack the Chiefs on the ground to keep Kansas City’s front guessing and slow down its pass rush, allowing Jalen Hurts more time to take shots downfield. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles run at Jones, putting faith in their combo blocks to get some push while keeping Jones from using his quickness to wreak havoc in pursuit from the backside. In pass protection, I’d expect to see Jason Kelce turn to Jones’ side more often than not.
Something to watch from the Chiefs: You’ve heard it from commentators a lot: Steve Spagnuolo always has something dialed up for big games. I expect this game to be no different. He’ll try to give the Philadelphia’s front some looks they haven’t seen on film before, especially in high-leverage situations. While he’s known for his blitz packages, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kansas City mug up at the line of scrimmage showing blitz and dropping out at the snap. This creates just enough hesitation from the offense to lead to advantageous pass-rush matchups.
When the Chiefs Have the Ball
After a regular season chock-full of sacks, the Eagles’ front displayed their dominance against a quality San Francisco front in the NFC Championship game. The Chiefs’ offensive line, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. While this matchup is a bit closer, Philadelphia has proven it has the depth to keep rotating players without much drop-off. The Eagles’ depth is what helps give them the advantage in this spot.
Something to watch from the Chiefs: While he is a couple of weeks healthier, Mahomes’ health likely isn’t quite what you’d like it to be heading into this game. Andy Reid has had plenty of time to think about how to keep his star quarterback upright against the team that led the league in sacks.
Having watched the NFC Championship video, I highly doubt they will have the hubris to try single-blocking Reddick with a tight end. With that out of the way, there are a number of things I expect them to do to keep Mahomes comfortable. They have a good blocking back in Jerick McKinnon who can help chip, they have speedy receivers who can take jet sweep touch passes, and Travis Kelce is known to rumble on a TE screen from time to time. All of these things help slow the rush down and are things the Chiefs already have shown to have in their bag of tricks. This will help buy enough time for those big downfield shots.
Something to watch from the Eagles: The Eagles would love to see Kansas City drop back to pass, something the Chiefs are often happy to oblige, as it will give their front a chance to get home. They haven’t had to rely on stunts and twists this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them utilize a few more stunts on Sunday. Those could muddy up the middle and help neutralize a few of the things the Chiefs might want to do to slow them down.
Those stunts force offensive linemen to move and communicate, and it allows rushers to disappear from any chips while the wrapper pulls around into any middle screens. Containing the outside of the pocket can be an issue with this strategy, but the Eagles have the quickness to get there. While Mahomes wasn’t hesitant to leave the pocket when opportunities were presented against Cincinnati, that little bit of lost escapability from what he normally has is probably enough to make this a viable wrinkle for the Eagles.
The Eagles have the advantage on both fronts so, obviously, they have the overall advantage. Of course, there are other players on the field, and football is the ultimate team sport. That said, the big fellas up front have an outsized impact on the game, and if we’re going to put the game on the lines, the Eagles will fly out of the desert with the Lombardi Trophy.
Maxx Forde is a former CFL and FBS defensive lineman, playing for the BC Lions from 2015-2018 after a standout career at the University of Idaho from 2010-2014 where he was a two-year team captain and three-time Coaches Award winner.
What We Learned: Six Takeaways from Super Bowl LVII Opening Night
Oh Brother! Jason, Travis Kelce Talk About Super Bowl LVII Matchup
Brothers Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce were having the time of their lives on Monday night. Come Sunday night, that won’t be the case because only one will be on the winning side of the Philadelphia Eagles–Kansas City Chiefs matchup in Super Bowl LVII.