With Mandatory Minicamp opening in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles are fully reunited (with the exception of Nick Foles) for the first time since the end of last season. That includes veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters, who was asked to take a pay-cut earlier this season but ultimately alluded the contract restructure. A few months later, it’s the 35-year old who wants a restructure of his own.
Talking with the media after his first practice back with the team, Peters had this to say: (Via ESPN)
“I don’t want to be year-to-year doubting, are they going to release me? Are they going to do this? Taking pay cuts and all that. I just want to make sure that I got the reassurance that I’m going to retire here, don’t have to worry about it, show up and show out.”
If the Eagles were to cut Peters today, it would save the cap-strapped franchise $9.7M. But it’s safe to say that the nine-time pro bowler isn’t going anywhere for now. Many expected the 2016 campaign to be a sign of regression for Peters after the intense Chip Kelly offense proved to wear down the remaining rubber a little quicker than hoped. But that simply wasn’t the case.
Peters played in every single game of the 2016 campaign and was vital in the development of Carson Wentz. 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.
By rejecting the pay-cut however, Peters is now on the other end of the stick. The Eagles offensive line is the deepest it has been in years and there’s no guarantee that after next season, Peters will remain on the roster. The simple reason being is that the Eagles are inundated with prove-it deals, and if it’s financial security that Peters seeks, it will likely come in the way of guaranteed money. Something the Birds aren’t exactly in the best position to offer.
Could the Eagles offer one more long-term deal to Peters? Doug Pederson offered a very brief insight today after practice, but seemed more concerned about the power generator that had stopped working!
“I really don’t know that. I’m just worried about the rest of today and seeing if we can get the power [in the building] back on.”
Moments beforehand, Pederson spoke glowingly of the veteran left tackle and his ability to manage his body and his own limits through the offseason.
“As we know, Jason is a great football player. He’s a Pro Bowl left tackle. He’s an anchor on that offensive line. He played 16 games for us and started 16 games for us last year. It’s hard to replace a Jason Peters, but at the same time, knowing what he’s capable of doing, managing him through not only this mini-camp, but even through training camp, he’s the least of my worries. He really is. He’s going to get himself ready to go mentally and physically and it’s just exciting to get him out here today.”
The heir to the throne of Jason Peters is currently one of two players, Lane Johnson, or second-year tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. In the absence of Peters during OTA’s, it was Johnson taking the reps on the left hand side, but either player could end up one day anchoring the spot on the opposite side of the field to the other.
The other side of the coin is even more interesting. If Peters does want to retire and Eagle and ensure he has the stability he seeks, the money aspect may take a hit, which only helps the Eagles. If Peters were to test free agent waters following an unsuccessful restructure and eventual parting of ways, would another team be willing to pay a left tackle who would soon be turning 36-years old, a large sum of guaranteed money up front? Peters is currently the 11th highest paid tackle in the NFL…but would another team be willing to raise him a few rungs up that ladder?
If the answer is “unlikely”, then the ball is in the court of Philadelphia. The Eagles could potentially work out a deal that benefits both parties, after all, it is something that Howie Roseman does best. Peters was keen to ensure he made every dime he earned when approached the first time around, but with an influx of talent at the tackle position and an emerging direction that requests younger and more versatile talent to grow around Carson Wentz, it’s now Peters who will be hoping it’s the Eagles who say yes to restructuring his contract, that carries a $10M base salary into the two seasons beyond 2017.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports