Isaac Seumalo, the Eagles’ former starter at left guard, will try to become the Eagles’ future starter at right guard.
The switch won’t be easy or seamless.
Seumalo faces an uphill battle for starting spot
- Having to replace retired three-time Pro Bowler Brandon Brooks
- Coming off a foot injury that required two surgeries
- Trying to learn a new position
- Stiff competition expected in training camp
- Would be overpaid if he’s not the starter
Seumalo is the perceived leader in the clubhouse. He played right guard during last month’s organized team activities. He is talented and brings more experience than any of his competitors to the Eagles 2022 roster.
Seumalo, a 2016 third-round pick from Oregon State, has played in 64 games and has made 43 starts, 41 at left guard.
Seumalo, 28, is coming off a September 2021 Lisfranc sprain in his foot that required two surgeries. His season ended after only three games.
He appeared healthy when he participated in the OTAs. His career history is this: When he’s healthy, he plays well.
He missed seven games in 2020 because of a knee injury. In 2019, he started all 16 games at left guard.
- “Every year you’re competing,” Seumalo said last month. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a 12-year All-Pro or a first-year rookie.
- “You’ve got to come in with that mindset that they’re always going to bring in somebody to compete for your job, that’s just what it is, I’m no stranger to that.
- “But I think when I’m healthy the film says a lot, that I can play at a really high level, and I still feel that way.”
Last season, Seumalo was the starting left guard before his injury. Then, Landon Dickerson, a rookie center, stepped in and formed a bond and a wall with tackle Jordan Mailata on the left side of the line — Jalen Hurts’ blindside in the pocket.
The Eagles struck it rich last year when Dickerson switched positions and so quickly assimilated into his new role at left guard. After only one year, Dickerson is considered one of the line’s cornerstones.
Could the Eagles get lucky again with Seumalo moving to right guard?
TRAINING CAMP WILL DECIDE THE STARTER
We know the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They are an established unit — athletic, tough and smart. Another strength is their mix of youth and experience.
They anchored the NFL’s top rushing attack last year. They have plenty of Pro Bowl candidates — Mailata, Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson.
The fifth spot on the line will be decided in training camp, which begins in two weeks. The battle for starting right guard is expected to be one of the most spirited in camp.
Seumalo will have competition for the right guard position from Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta and rookie Cam Jurgens. Driscoll is in his third season. He made nine starts in 2021 and four starts in 2020.
Opeta also is in his third season. He has started four games and has played in 18 games. Driscoll and Opeta have been plagued with injuries.
We don’t know if Jurgens, a natural center, has enough talent and experience to challenge right now for the starting right guard slot while Kelce holds down the center position.
- “Isaac has played a lot of football,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said last month. “We know how good of a football player he is. We’ll see how everything shakes out.
- “Isaac is coming off an injury, but Jack Driscoll played meaningful snaps, Sua did a great job of stepping in, Cam [is] in the mix. We have a lot of good options there.”
MONEY MIGHT BE AN ISSUE
Seumalo represents somewhat of a salary cap dilemma for the Eagles.
Seumalo is being paid starter money. He is owed $5.6 million this year with a $7.6 million cap figure. This is the final year of his contract. If he isn’t the starter, he is a very expensive backup.
If the Eagles cut him, they would save about $1.8 million in cap space but take on $5.8 million in dead cap money. If they release him with a post-June 1 designation, they would save $5.65 million in cap money this year.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine wrote that the offensive line-needy Denver Broncos could swoop in and sign Seumalo, should he be cut.
That’s a sign your team is building a solid roster, when other teams want to snap up your released players.
You would think if the Eagles cut Seumalo, he would be highly pursued, given his age, his background, his association with outstanding Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and his playing on one of the league’s top lines.
There’s nothing to hang your head over if you aren’t one of the Eagles’ starters on their dynamic offensive line. Teams will come find you, checkbook in hand.