I feel pretty good about how the Eagles handled the just-completed trade of 33-year-old offensive lineman Allen Barbre to the Denver Broncos…
The official story goes like this: “The Eagles had originally planned to release guard/tackle Allen Barbre, but instead were able to trade him to the Denver Broncos for a 2019 conditional draft pick. Barbre was originally signed by the Eagles in 2013 and he eventually became a starter for the first time in his career. In his four seasons with the team, Barbre played in 44 games and started 28 contests over the past two years. In 2016, the 33-year-old Barbre opened nine games at left guard and three at right tackle. ”
“Allen Barbre is a pro’s pro,” said Eagles GM Howie Roseman. “Not only did he help the team with his solid play as a starter at left guard, but his ability to step up and play multiple positions helped us battle through some difficult situations.”
It’s really about a tribute to the newfound depth and youth on the Eagles offensive line. Apparently Sir Isaac Seumalo has impressed enough so far to make Barbre expendable.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said that Isaac Seumalo will be the starter at left guard entering Training Camp just hours prior to the team’s release of Barbre. The Eagles also signed Chance Warmack, a former top-10 pick, in free agency and re-signed Stefen Wisniewski, who started six games last season.
“Isaac’s the starter and then there’s just competition from there, that’s the great thing about Training Camp, the great thing about this business, it’s just so stinking competitive,” Reich said. “It’s what the guys love about it. It’s what we love about it, so again it’ll play itself out.”
Seumalo, a third-round pick last year out of Oregon State, missed most of the spring due to the NCAA graduation rule, but caught up in Training Camp and eventually started four games at three different positions (2 at right guard, 1 at left guard, and 1 at right tackle).
“Very smart. Understands what’s being coached. Understands fronts, understands defensive schemes, what to anticipate. Very athletic, tough-minded player,” Reich said.
Tackle Lane Johnson said it was evident in the spring how much more comfortable Seumalo is in the offense. “He’s more confident in his stance. He’s probably got some of the best feet on the O-line,” Johnson said. “He’s extremely gifted and I think he’s ready to take it up a notch.”
He better be.
What really happened is that the known veteran factor Barbre was considered expendable because of the salary cap savings represented by his release— over $2 million— but the Eagles and Howie Roseman showed they have a collective heart by engineering a last-hour trade for Barbre to the Broncos for a conditional 7th round pick in 2019.
Howie Roseman initially left the door open for Barbre to return, if Barbre couldn’t land a better gig upon release. That alone says a lot about how highly the Eagles valued Barbre as a player and a gentleman.
Nice to know that the Broncos valued Barbre pretty highly, too—and gladly assumed his contract. Also good to know, as Beans suggested, that the Giants or the Redskins didn’t grab him.
Les Bowen of The Daily News/philly.com sang the praises of Barbre:
“He was versatile, able to play either side at guard or tackle, and he was the team’s most experienced reserve at tackle. Given that left tackle Jason Peters is 35 and right tackle Lane Johnson is a bad test sample away from a two-year ban, that could matter. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Tobin, and maybe somebody else — Dillon Gordon? Taylor Hart? — would seem to be getting a vote of confidence.”
That’s the thing about aging in the NFL— your position group is always being challenged by younger guys. Even if you are competent enough to earn $2.25 million in the current season of your contract, someone making the NFL veteran minimum salary is pushing your arse into early retirement.
It’s so different in the real world, where the guys with decades of seniority rule and the 4th or 5th year career strivers are the underdogs.
The tea leaves did not read so positively for young Marcus Smith.
Les Bowen was brutal in his commentary on the concurrent outright release of former 2014 1st-round draft choice Marcus Smith:
“There was no Roseman statement on Smith, whose ineptitude helped propel Roseman into personnel limbo for a year, and nearly cost him his job. No, the bouquet-tossing was reserved for steady soldier Allen Barbre, who apparently balked at the coaching staff’s decision to declare Isaac Seumalo the Eagles’ starting left guard, instead of Barbre, without the formality of a training camp competition.”
The Birds re-signed linebacker Steven Daniels to replace Smith on the roster.
Smith, still only 25 years old, was drafted in 2014 to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 front and made the transition to 4-3 defensive end in 2016. He played in 37 games in his three seasons with the team and recorded just four sacks. I know, that sounds pretty unimpressive, but it’s 4 more sacks than you or I had.
Daniels, meanwhile, was with the team briefly in the spring. The Eagles claimed Daniels off waivers from Washington in May before being waived on June 1. A seventh-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Daniels landed on Injured Reserve as a rookie with a torn labrum. Daniels was a three-year starter at middle linebacker for Boston College, recording 267 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, and three interceptions. He earned first-team All-ACC honors as a senior.
Again, Les Bowen was brutal in his summation of the career of the departed Marcus Smith:
“From the first day, the former quarterback showed no defensive instincts and played and practiced in a befuddled haze that would lift only very slightly during a three-year, 24-game career that has to rank him in the top five all-time Eagles draft busts. And as long-suffering fans know, that is a tough lineup to crack.”
Geez, I don’t know if I would go that far… Smith was a fish out of water in Philadelphia. If he really loves the sport of football and wants to succeed at his position on defense, he is still young enough to find his way in a different system. It’s moreless up to him and his personal will to win at this point. Someone will pick him up.
It’s just a difficult pill to swallow for Eagles fans when you think about the prospects in the 2014 Draft we basically passed over or didn’t move up to get just to draft Smith— linebacker Anthony Barr, who went ninth overall, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. (12th), cornerback Kyle Fuller (14th), linebacker C.J. Mosley (17th), wideout Brandin Cooks (20th) and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21st, after the Packers traded in front of the Eagles to grab him). We held the 22nd overall pick that year.
Roseman’s trade-down made it worse. He acquired the 83rd overall selection, which he later traded for fourth- and fifth-rounders, moving back only to 26th overall in the first. Then he took Smith, a slender Louisville defensive end who was widely regarded as a second- or even third-round talent.
Les Bowen puts the cherry on top— “It was clear right away that Smith was a massive project, tall and fast but lacking in even rudimentary pass rush moves. More alarming and telling was that he lacked aggressiveness. Smith was as lost in OTAs and training camp as any Eagles high pick of the last quarter-century. Right away the coaching staff started talking about bringing him along slowly, not looking at him as a first-rounder. He found his way into eight games as a rookie but wasn’t even an asset on special teams.”