As the NFL offseason winds on, one notable free agent remains unsigned. 38-year old Jason Peters was allowed to walk into the open market after ten years in a midnight green jersey and nine Pro Bowl selections. The veteran reportedly declined contract offers from other teams in a bid to remain available for the Eagles and that may be a wise strategy…but is it the right one? Here are some pros and cons surrounding a potential reunion.
You won’t find anyone better
The Eagles added a pair of Auburn linemen through the NFL Draft, but outside of that, there have been notable additions. Losing Halapoluvaati Vaitai to the Lions stung. Big-V saw action in over 50 games during his time with the Eagles and was a great insurance policy behind JP. Now that both Peters and Vaitai have departed, not only does it pave the way for last year’s first-round pick, Andre Dillard, to step up as a starter, but it raises a question mark over his backup.
Jordan Mailata may well be some way off being an OT2 to hang your hat on and while names like Prince Tega Wanagho are intriguing, the Eagles make their paydirt in the trenches and their backups have been a crucial part of that machine. If Dillard were to go down with injury, there’s no cemented backup behind him with significant NFL experience. That hurts.
Peters allowed 3 sacks on 872 snaps last year and although he was flagged frequently, he earned a PFF grade of 82.4…which is beyond impressive for someone his age.
The truth is, despite his age, you won’t find anyone better on the free agent market than Peters.
After ten years as an Eagle, it’s safe to say that Peters knows the team and the intricacies of the playbook like the back of his hand, and that’s reflected by the Eagles on their future Hall of Famer.
Bringing in veteran linemen doesn’t always work out. Chance Warmack is one such name who was never really able to re-ignite a flailing career in Philadelphia, but Peters is a different beast…and one the Eagles know all too well.
JP could slip on a jersey tomorrow and pick up where he left off in 2019 in the case of absolute emergency and that can only be seen as a good thing.
Some needed leadership
Andre Dillard is entering his second year in the league, but without a veteran behind him, protecting Wentz’s blindside will bring even more pressure.
According to PFF, Dillard blew 7.8% of his assignments as a rookie, the worst record of tackles who had played in 300+ snaps. He also allowed a whopping pressure-rate of 14.7%. But we seem to be forgetting one game. The game where he was thrown to the Wolves at right tackle despite echoing to the media just how tough that task really is, which is where most of those errors occurred. His first season, especially in outings against the Bills and Bears, was actually really impressive…but that doesn’t mean he won’t benefit from the mentoring a player of Peters’ caliber could provide.
JP has been an integral asset in the development of younger linemen in his time with the Eagles – as is expected of older players. Names like Jordan Mailata have often been seen working with JP away from the team or after practice and if Peters does return, guiding the heir to his throne through a sophomore season would only do wonders for the Washington State product’s game.
It’s still shocking to think that Peters took a paycut in 2019 – He’s never had to, never wanted to up to that point. While the rest of the team bent, Peters would only see his value increase and stand firm on knowing his worth. The guy’s a nine-time pro bowler, who can blame him?
While he finally took a drop in pay last year, there’s no guarantee that Peters would take a mega team-friendly deal in 2020. It’s all well and good that he’s declined offers from elsewhere, but surely that only leverages the fact that he can get more money. if Howie tries to lowball Peters, which would hardly be shocking, and that offer was less than what JP has been offered elsewhere, Howie’s going to have to cough up some of that $23M in cap space to bring home an all-time great.
The Howie way
It wasn’t so long ago that Roseman gave a prophetic speech about the change of heart he’s experienced when it comes to signing players.
“It’s very difficult when you have guys who have given their heart and soul to this organization, to this team, who you’ve developed personal relationships to say goodbye, and I’m not talking about those guys specifically, I’m just talking about that decision.
At the same time, you also need veteran leadership on your football team and you need guys that have been through it. I think you saw that for us at the end of the year, there are guys that have been through adversity and were able to overcome it and be able to take our young players and lead them and tell them kind of the expectations that they had.
So you try to balance all those things. Now, we haven’t gotten into the evaluation of any of this. We haven’t decided on our plan going forward. Those are all the things that will happen in the coming days and coming weeks.”Howie Roseman to the media in January
When it was announced that the Eagles had bid goodbye to Jason Peters, that was thought to be the end of it. But then the Eagles seemingly refused to add a veteran into the mix, instead infusing youth into the line which is both a blessing and a curse.
Re-signing Peters would seemingly go against everything Roseman told the media in January, but it’s not like he hasn’t walked away from Malcolm Jenkins, Nigel Bradham, and several others. Peters, at age-38, may be the lone exception to this rule given his familiarity with the team and a career that refuses to stagnate, but would it create a rift in trust once more between what Roseman says and what Roseman does?
Realistically, is Jason Peters going to return as a backup? Is he going to want to be paid like a backup? The Bodyguard has been known for his influence on the locker room in the past and it’s highly unlikely he’d come skipping into the NovaCare Complex with the aim of taking a backseat in mind.
This may also have an impact on Andre Dillard, who if Peters is paid big bucks, is already coming off of an offseason filled with trade rumors and absurd whispers surrounding his future. Bringing back the ultimate insurance policy could do wonders for his confidence, or it could lead to him viewing it as one of the all-time-greats breathing down his neck after rumors of a ‘lack of faith’ had just about died down, bringing the entire conversation up once more. Is that not everything the Eagles have worked hard to eradicate?
It’s a really intriguing situation for sure…and there’s no doubting that there are multiple ways to view the potential reunion, but it’s how the Eagles feel about it that really matters.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports