Last week, Eagles dropped a massive bomb of a move by splashing away the cash to sign a big exciting piece – Just like Brian Baldinger promised us!
… They signed Jason Peters back to play guard.
While it wasn’t the sexy move for a high priced DE or S like Jamal Adams, it’s important, and it’s a move that leaves a lot to think about. Let’s get to it:
Brandon Brooks going down was massive. Arguably the best interior offensive lineman in the game injured before the season even started, leaving a gap to be filled already.
Matt Pryor, who started a couple games in 2019 (and looked good doing so), looked like the favorable replacement for Brooks:
Other options were thrown out there like trading for Joe Thuney or signing Larry Warford. Regardless of the path, Eagles had to replace Brooks with someone capable of keeping the OL stable, as it remains a core unit for the Eagles offensive success.
Jason Peters managed to transition from TE to LT, and although that was many moons ago, the 38-year-old physical freak remains one of the best in the game, being ranked the 4th best pass blocking T in the NFL in 2019.
Questions regarding flexibility, strength, and explosiveness at his age all circle back to the same fact:
- He can still play really, really well against the top DEs in football. I think he will survive playing guard.
As mentioned, top options on the market for the Eagles were Larry Warford and trading for Joe Thuney.
Larry, who just turned 29, has made the pro-bowl in 3 straight seasons from 2017-2019. Despite a pretty impressive resume, Warford hasn’t been a top-10 guard in the NFL in pass-blocking efficiency in those 3 years. He would likely demand top-end guard money, which currently sits anywhere from $12-14 million.
Joe Thuney, on the other hand, has been in the top 10 in pass block efficiency in 2018 and 2019, is 27, and just came off an All-Pro season in 2019. He is still under contract by the Patriots and on the last year of his rookie deal. That would demand trade compensation, and once again, top end guard money.
Another issue with signing is, what happens when Brandon Brooks comes back?
Jason Peters signed for 1-year, 3 million dollars that could end up at 6 million with incentives. A cheaper option with no implications after 2020 when Brooks comes back.
With Pryor looking to be the starter at guard prior to signing JP, the options behind him were limited. 2nd-year player Nate Herbig, Jordan Mailata who has never played a game, and rookies Jack Driscoll and Prince Tega were the other – less inspiring options.
Further, with Dillard looking to handle LT duties, what would happen if he was unable to play? Who is the replacement LT?
Jason Peters presents a deeper position at guard, while also being the natural backup to Andre Dillard – you know – because JP is a pretty good LT.
“But what if JP gets in the head of Dillard or breathes down his neck or if Dillard plays poorly?”. Dillard is a grown man playing a competitive game. The Eagles are doing everything they can to grow talent, while also achieving the best chance to win. Dillard will be fine. JP will be his backup.
Instead of assuming Dillard will have a hard time playing because JP is in his head, and his spot in the starting lineup won’t be a lock, let’s look at it from the other perspective:
Instead of having literally no one behind him (going back to also not having any real backup at LT), Dillard now has to work hard to keep his spot, because if he doesn’t play well? There’s a HOF tackle on the team. Pressure? Sure. But having extra motivation to get better is good. And assuming he can’t handle it and play well – thank god you have JP and give your team a chance to win.
We know Andre Dillard is working his butt off to grow, add strength, and prepare to be the starter in 2019:
Further, imagine the scenario where Matt Pryor, or even Jack Driscoll surprise everyone can flat out destroys training camp, obviously beating out JP, Eagles will have several good options to choose from at RG.
5) Youth development
Speaking of development, we have to address the fact that JP has been a mentor to the rest of the OL, and basically a playing coach, in the past couple of years.
Even Andre Dillard, who everyone is worried about, said the same:
“He’s been a great teacher, mentor, and like a big brother to me”Andre Dillard on Jason Peters
The Eagles assembled a lot of youth on their offensive line, drafting Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, and Prince Tega, and signing Sua Opeta and Nate Herbig.
Jason Peters adds a positive contribution to the development so some of these guys hopefully can become real contributors and future starters.
While training currently is set to start on time, i.e. next week, we still are facing a chaotic, stressful, and short preseason with zero to few preseason games, potentially limited 11-on-11 action, and likely utter confusion.
Adding players to the team, whether it be free agents, trade targets, draft picks, or UDFAs, everyone will have to adapt to a new team, offensive scheme, and playbook.
The familiarity of Jason Peters in the offense is a major advantage of this move.
The role Jason Peters has on the Eagles team is incredible. Everyone speaks highly of him, and rightfully so, considering his consistent loyalty, level of play, and attitude with the team.
“Obviously, Jason Peters has had an unbelievable career, the best player I’ve ever played with, so I always love to play with Jason Peters”Jason Kelce on Jason Peters
Lane Johnson, who has always been a huge fan of Jason Peters (remember him holding JP’s jersey going into the Superbowl?) is excited to have one of his best friends playing next to him:
“Finally working out the details and got the big man back and I’m excited, man. I’m excited to have him next to me, a guy that I’ve looked up to and has really been my mentor ever since coming into the league, so it’s huge for us”Lane Johnson on the return of Jason Peters
Jason Peters is an Eagles legend, a HOF player, and will retire an Eagle.
End of story.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports