The Eagles were understandably excited Friday afternoon as they trotted out their new outside-receiver duo. With the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, they had rapidly addressed their biggest offensive need on the first day of free agency and, at the very least, they deserved some polite applause. Celebratory spelling should be reserved for the regular season.
Oddly, however, de facto general manager Howie Roseman also opted to do a little bit of bragging about his offensive line after the team signed free-agent guard Chance Warmack to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million and re-signed reserve Stefen Wisniewski to a three-year deal worth a reported $9 million. Warmack, the former first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans, will be reunited with Jeff Stoutland, the Eagles' offensive line coach who was in that same role at Alabama when Warmack mauled defenders for the Crimson Tide.
Roseman was asked if Warmack's arrival would lead to center Jason Kelce's departure and he sure did elaborate after initially saying "no."
"In fact, the first thing we talked about this morning was the outstanding depth that we have on the offensive line," Roseman said. "When you look at it, you can say you're committed to the lines, but then your actions have to reflect that. . . . It's a position around the league that people are looking for, so we're really excited and our plan is to keep all of those guys."
It will be impossible for the Eagles to keep all 17 offensive linemen who are on the team's offseason roster unless coach Doug Pederson is secretly concocting an empty-backfield offense with two wide receivers and no tight ends. Still, Roseman returned to raving about the depth along the offensive line when asked if getting Carson Wentz two veteran receivers was vital to the young quarterback's development.
"I think you go back to how we started this," Roseman said. "We believe in the lines and building along the lines. It would be a disservice for us to not also talk about our offensive line because it starts up front, and if [Wentz] doesn't have time to throw it doesn't matter who we have on the outside."
Of course those of us fortunate enough to have our vision - it did not even require 20-20 - could see last season and during others before it that having lousy receivers can also negate the ability of a decent offensive line. We're quite sure you're sick of that story, so let's listen to Roseman tell us more about the Eagles' offensive line depth.
"I think we have 12 guys of our 17 who have started in the National Football League," he said. "We couldn't count Taylor Hart to that number yet, but if we would I think we'd have 13."
The joke there is that Hart has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line, and if he ever makes a start on the other side of the ball it will be a good story. The greater likelihood is that his time in the league is running out after three seasons, which is just about right for the average NFL player.
There's no denying that the Eagles, under Roseman, spend a lot more time and money on the offensive line than not only Chip Kelly during his brief tenure as head personnel man, but also most of the NFL. The Eagles, for example, are the only team in the NFL that has four of its five starting linemen among the top 10 paid at their position. According to the contract website sportrac.com, Lane Johnson is first among right tackles, Jason Peters is sixth among left tackles, Kelce is eighth among centers, and Brandon Brooks is 10th among all guards.
The website also lists the Eagles as spending a league-high $43.7 million on its 16 offensive linemen. Apparently the memo that Hart has moved to offense has not reached the site yet. Regardless, the Eagles' total is $5.2 million more than the next highest team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Eagles are one of only three teams to spend more than 25 percent of their salary-cap total on the offensive line.
Here's the big question: Did the Eagles get the bang for their buck along the offensive line last season?
Some numbers: The offense finished 22nd in yards per game, 16th in points per game, 20th in third-down conversions, and 17th in fourth-down conversions. Wentz was hit 98 times, the ninth highest total in the league. He was sacked 33 times, which was 13th in the NFL but last in the NFC East. The Eagles did lead the league in time of possession after finishing last in that department during Kelly's three seasons as head coach.
The reasons for all those numbers are subjective, of course. It's difficult to get an entirely fair grade without watching every snap while also having the knowledge of what a lineman was supposed to do on a given play. The Eagles, of course, also had to deal with Johnson's 10-game suspension, but if you're going to boast about depth then you should be able to handle a man down, even one as talented as Johnson.
Dallas got a lot more for a lot less money out of its offensive line a year ago, and that really should be the goal. The Cowboys, however, have already lost two offensive linemen this offseason - Ronald Leary signed with Denver and Doug Free retired - so the title of best offensive line in the division could be up for grabs. Based on his spending and his comments Friday, Roseman believes that the line is the key to winning an even bigger title. He made that clear even on a day on which he signed two new wide receivers.