It’s well known by now that the Eagles aren’t inundated with cap space. In an attempt to change their stars, the team approached veteran left tackle and 9x Pro-Bowler Jason Peters with regards to a potential pay cut. From what we know so far, it isn’t likely that the 35-year old will be willing to part ways with his well earned salary..leaving the Eagles at a crossroads. However, the team may have just seen a huge swing in momentum.
According to Mike Garafolo, there will be two new Left Tackles hitting free agency in March..and good ones.
Jets won't be picking up LT Ryan Clady's option for 2017, as @AdamSchefter just tweeted. He's a free agent.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 15, 2017
Jaguars are not picking up LT Kelvin Beachum's option, sources say. So like Ryan Clady, he's headed to the free-agent market.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 16, 2017
Clady is a 4 time Pro Bowler but only started eight games in 2016. Prior to an injury bug that just hasn’t seemed to leave the 30-year old, Clady was easily one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive linemen. As his durability has decreased..so as his value. His age may be a deterrent for some, but for an Eagles team who in this instance would still be looking for a veteran presence to replace Peters as a stop-gap, it wouldn’t be.
Beachum on the other hand was signed by the Jags after a torn-ACL saw his career in Pittsburgh come to an end. A prove-it deal with an option to pick up a four-year extension gave the former seventh-round pick a chance to prove his durability and efficiency. He went on to play in 92% of offensive snaps for Jacksonville, who have decided not to pick up that contract option. He may not have been the most prolific left tackle in the league..but shedding that label and proving that he can withstand a full year of NFL competition after tearing an ACL was huge for his career.
The Eagles are expected to have around $9M in cap space heading into the free agency window and have some prominent holes to fill. The veteran left tackle has two seasons remaining no his current contract and carries a cap hit of $11M in both 2017 and 2018.
It’s easy to see why the Eagles have approached Peters. Not only is he one of the oldest players on the roster, but he’s also the most expensive, ahead of Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox. With the word loyalty in mind, the Birds would be hoping to save money wherever possible in order to retain the services of the likes of Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan..so starting with the most expensive player on the roster certainly isn’t a bad decision.
From the perspective of Jason Peters however, earning a ninth Pro-Bowl nod after a season that many deemed disappointing was huge. The veteran played in every single game of the 2016 campaign and was vital in the development of Carson Wentz and the zonal rushing attack. With rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai being the heir to one of the Tackle thrones, Peters had plenty of ammunition knowing that if the Eagles wanted sustainability, he was easily their best option.
With two left tackles now heading to free agency, it gives the Eagles options..and that’s the only word they need to pull themselves back into this negotiation. Both Beachum and Clady are going to cost considerably less than the $11.2M that Peters is scheduled to cost the Eagles in 2017..and that may be all the ammunition they need to at least find a common middle-ground, retaining the service of Jason Peters at a slightly cheaper cost.
Howie Roseman is a ferocious negotiator and while this news may not exactly lead to Peters halving his salary anytime soon..it at least gives the Eagles some new options to take a close look at when discussing the proposed pay cut with a player who is deserving of every penny he’s currently scheduled to make.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports