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Stefen Wisniewski signing raises questions about Jason Kelce

PHILADELPHIA -- Until we see the Philadelphia Eagles line up on the practice field, we won’t know anything for sure. Nevertheless, there is an interesting possibility developing along their offensive line.

The Eagles signed free agent Stefen Wisniewski to a one-year contract this week. Wisniewski, 28, was very frank about his reasons for taking the deal.

He felt he was being “low-balled” by the Jacksonville Jaguars, his 2015 employers. And he didn’t get a lot of attention at the beginning of free agency this year. Since big money wasn’t being offered. Wisniewski decided to take a one-year deal from the Eagles and hope to play his way into a better free-agent experience in 2017.

Wisniewski also said he fully expects to start for the Eagles this year. He wouldn’t have signed with them otherwise. It’s pretty hard to increase your market value from the sideline.

While Wisniewski said he was willing to work on playing guard, he has played center for the last few seasons. He said he is more comfortable there. Again, if a player is looking to boost his marketability, he would likely want to play his best position.

That brings us to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. At the NFL owners meetings last month, Pederson said the Eagles had several in-house candidates to fill the left guard position. One of the candidates he mentioned was Jason Kelce.

While that seemed like a slip of the tongue at the time, it now sounds more like a hint of what the Eagles’ plan is. Kelce is 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, which is a bit undersized for a guard. But Wisniewski is listed as 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, only 10 pounds heavier.

Both are considerably lighter than Brandon Brooks, the free agent the Eagles signed to play right guard. Brooks is 6-foot-6, 345 pounds.

Kelce had his best season in 2013, when he led a line that helped LeSean McCoy lead the NFL in rushing. That year, Kelce had Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans playing guard at a high level on either side of him.

In 2014, Kelce tried to play through a sports hernia, aggravated the injury and had to have surgery. He returned and played well enough to earn a Pro Bowl berth. Again, he had Mathis on his left and Herremans on his right until an injury ended Herremans’ season.

In 2015, Kelce and the offensive line did not have as good a season. Chip Kelly released Mathis and Herremans during the offseason and replaced them with Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner, who had been backups in 2014. With less capable guards on either side of him, Kelce did not have his best season.

Upon being hired by the Eagles, Pederson reviewed 2015 games to get a feel for the state of the roster. He would have seen Kelce playing in the midst of the instability around him. Unless he went back and watched 2013 tape, Pederson would not have seen Kelce at his best.

At the same time, Kelce is an agile player, able to deliver a block and then move on to the second level and take on another defender. He can pull well enough to play guard. He isn’t the biggest guy, but he’s giving up the same 30 to 40 pounds to defenders whether he’s at guard or center.

Once the Eagles hold a camp later this month, we should get more of a feel for the plan here. The players will have talked with Pederson and the coaching staff and have an idea how they will be used. Until then, we can only go by the information available, and that tells us that, for now, there is a possibility that Kelce and Wisniewski will be competing for spots on the line.