Runyan Not Likely To Return

The clock is ticking for the Eagles to get Jon Runyan back without other teams potentially pushing up his price tag. Actually, the clock may have already struck 12 as Runyan has one foot out the door.

Jon Runyan is credited with changing the face of the Eagles offensive line after arriving via free agency in 2000. Now, the face of that line is likely to change again with Runyan's exit via free agency in 2006.

The Eagles have made little to no attempt to re-sign Runyan, who hits the free agent market once the signing period begins next Friday. Once he's open to negotiate with other teams, the price tag for Runyan's services is going to rise, although he's said publicly that he would take less - potentially a substantial amount less - to stay in Philadelphia. Runyan has hinted that he may give the Eagles a discount of up to 25% off what another team would be willing to pay him if it would keep him in Philadelphia. Even at that discount, the Eagles don't seem interested.

If Runyan's exit does happen, it's likely that Shawn Andrews would shift from guard to tackle and Todd Herremans would have a better than average shot at playing in Andrews' vacated spot. There are definite problems with that scenario though. For one, Herremans is recovering from an ankle injury and may not even be able to play by the time mini-camp rolls around. Tra Thomas, who missed time in camp last season because of blood clots in his leg, is also recovering from back surgery and also may not be ready for mini-camp. Their questionable situations and the weak play from Artis Hicks last season could cause gaping holes to develop on the offensive line.

At least the Eagles seem set at the center position, although Hank Fraley and Jamaal Jackson may wind up battling for the starting job there.

Seattle's Steve Hutchinson and Detroit's Jeff Backus are the highest rated offensive linemen in free agency, but both carry a high cost. Seattle can simply match any offer that Hutchinson receives to keep him and the Lions put the franchise tag on Backus, meaning the Eagles would lose two first-round picks if they were to sign him. Either player coming to the Eagles is a near impossibility.

Runyan is 32, but believes he can still play and be a leader on somebody's offensive line. He and his agent, Ben Dogra, believe there will be a number of teams interested in signing Runyan once they're able to talk with him about a contract.

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