Hard work pays off with new deal for Isaac Seumalo

Isaac Seumalo needed some time to find the right fit along the Eagles’ offensive line, but by the middle of his third NFL season, he settled in at left guard and played outstanding football in the second half of the 2018 season and in the playoffs and now he’s going to have a chance to get better and better and better.

Seumalo on Monday became the third player in the last week to gain a contract extension, joining center Jason Kelce and defensive end Brandon Graham. Seumalo, a third-round draft pick in 2016, agreed to terms on a three-year deal that keeps him an Eagle through the 2022 season. Seumalo had the 2019 season remaining on his rookie contract.

“You’re talking about a guy who is athletic, smart and versatile,” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said of Seumalo during the 2018 season. “You saw it when he went out and played some at right tackle (as a rookie in 2016 against Baltimore) and played good football. He’s a young player who is coming on for us. He’s learning every day. It’s a difficult position to master and I’m pleased with the progress that Isaac is making. I like the way he’s playing football for us.

“Isaac is a warrior. Isaac works as hard as anybody, not only on the field but in the classroom.”

At 6 feet 4 and 304 pounds (his listed weight, although Seumalo said he added 20 pounds prior to the 2018 season), Seumalo went through some growing pains in his time as an Eagle. After a rookie season during which he played in nine games, with four starts, Seumalo was elevated to the starting role at left guard for the 2017 campaign. He started the first two games before being replaced by Stefen Wisniewski in the Super Bowl season. Seumalo played in just 25 percent of the team’s offensive snaps that season.

In 2018, the roles were reversed. Wisniewski started the opening four games before Seumalo was promoted to the starting role through the remainder of the season. A pectoral muscle injury sidelined Seumalo for the final three regular season games, but once he was healthy Seumalo returned to the starting lineup for the postseason and played in 100 percent of the snaps in the two playoff games.

The Eagles see in Seumalo a young, rising player whose best is yet to come.

“I think the more Isaac plays,” Stoutland said, “the better he’s going to be.”

Seumalo is going to have a chance to play a lot in the seasons to come as the Eagles build more continuity up front and position themselves with additional flexibility for the free-agency period that begins on March 13 at 4 p.m. There are now no questions about “Seumalo’s best position” after he started 37 games spread out over four positions at Oregon State – ironically, the only offensive line position he didn’t play was left guard. Stoutland and Seumalo have worked hard on making him a strong player at left guard and all of that hard work has paid off.

Signing Seumalo to an extension continues the early offseason theme of making sure the line of scrimmage remains a strong point. Howie Roseman said from the NFL Scouting Combine last week that he sees free agency as vehicle to "supplement" the roster, and by retaining Graham and extending the contracts of Kelce and Seumalo, the Eagles are reducing any "needs" for the offensive and defensive lines.

There are still questions about both sides of the ball, but the Eagles are off to a strong start in the offseason, with another week-plus before free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. on March 13. Graham is still playing high-quality football, Kelce is coming off back-to-back All-Pro seasons and Seumalo has found his home at left guard, with what the Eagles expect to be his best football ahead.

What's next? We shall see. No question that Roseman and his football administration staff have put together a comprehensive plan to make this a creative, effective and efficient offseason of roster building.

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