When Stefen Wisniewski signed his one-year contract with the Eagles last April, the six-year veteran believed he might have an opportunity to battle for a starting spot. Except a competition at left guard never materialized, as Allen Barbre retained his job without any indication of a fight.
It was the first time in Wisniewski's NFL career that he wasn't a starter, and as he was cleaning out his locker at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, he had to admit, it wasn't quite what he signed up for.
"It was definitely weird and didn't work out exactly how I might've thought," Wisniewski said.
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Which is not to say Wisniewski was disappointed with his time on the Eagles, either. The long-time center described it as a positive experience overall, adding that he got some solid experience playing a different position.
"But looking back, I was so blessed with the opportunity," Wisniewski continued. "I got to play a lot of football, got to play a lot of guard, which was good, something I wanted to do, and I played well when I was in there. I enjoyed it, enjoyed my teammates. I had a lot of great teammates, and a good coaching staff, learned a lot.
"It was just interesting though."
In the end, Wisniewski didn't rule out re-signing with the Eagles despite the fact that there doesn't appear to be an obvious path to become a starter.
"I think they liked me, and I liked it here," he said. "It's too early to tell if that will happen or not, but we'll see here in the next month or two."
Wisniewski appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles in 2016 but only six as a starter, and those were all the result of injuries to other players. A job doesn't appear to be opening up anytime soon, either. Barbre, center Jason Kelce and right guard Brandon Brooks are all under contract for next season, while 2016 third-round draft pick Issac Seumalo showed promise as a rookie as well.
The Eagles may not require Wisniewski's services at all, much less to start. That could seemingly present an issue in negotiations, as it's still something the 27-year-old wants.
"I'm not going to talk about what kind of contract I'm looking for, but I do view myself as a starter and I think I showed that with six years of tape in the NFL that I'm a starter, and a good one," Wisniewski said.
"I'll be trying to do that wherever I'm at. That's definitely a goal."
Whether or not that will be on the table could determine how serious Wisniewski is about coming back, and that likely depends on his options.
A second-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2011, Wisniewski wound up playing out his rookie contract with the Raiders to find a tepid free-agent market. He eventually landed with the Jaguars for one season, but again, when his deal was up, there wasn't a lot of serious interest on the open market.
That's when the Eagles swooped in and improved their offensive line depth with the addition of Wisniewski. Still, he hopes this free-agency period goes a little more smoothly.
"It's a crazy process," Wisniewski said. "Hopefully it's only crazy for a week or two, but for me, it's been kind of crazy for five or six weeks, however long it's taken the last couple years. It kind of tests your resolve and can drive you crazy if you don't have the right mindset."
While Wisniewski made it perfectly clear he hopes to start, if that doesn't happen it sounds like he's learned to accept coming off the bench. Depending on how free agency plays out, that could prove beneficial to the Eagles.
"It was tough, and it kind of challenges a lot when you're used to being the starter," Wisniewski said. "It kind of checks your identity, but I think my faith carried me through that, and I think it was a good thing for me.
"It definitely humbled me and taught me how to just keep working despite your circumstances maybe not being ideal."