Since entering the league in 2004, Jason Peters has built a reputation as one of the best left tackles to ever play the game. Now, the Philadelphia Eagles will ask the 38-year-old to do something he has never done before. Will the veteran succeed in his new role? Or will age and new responsibilities prove too difficult for Peters to overcome?
That’s the $6 million question he will have to answer this season for an Eagles squad that has its sights set on another Super Bowl run.
Jason Peters is one of the best left tackles of his generation
Turn the clock back to the 2004 NFL draft. Jason Peters displayed fantastic athletic ability at the combine, however teams had to project whether he could succeed at left tackle after playing tight end at Arkansas. Despite elite measurables, Peters did not get selected.
The Buffalo Bills scooped up the tackle teeming with potential. Peters began his career as a special-teamer but quickly emerged as the team’s starting right tackle in 2005. He eventually made the transition to the left side and earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2007.
Things didn’t end well in Buffalo, though. Unhappy with his contract, Peters eventually got traded to the Eagles right before the 2009 NFL draft. The transaction turned out to be a tremendous investment.
Since joining the Eagles a decade ago, the 6-foot-4, 328-pounder has locked down the most important position on the offensive line. Along the way, the powerful yet nimble veteran has earned seven Pro Bowl berths, two first-team All-Pro selections, and two second-team All-Pro selections. The future Hall of Famer also earned a spot on the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
While his play has fallen a bit in recent years, Peters has still been a critical component of Philadelphia’s success. This offseason, he hit the free-agent market but generated little buzz.
Eagles bring back Peters to play critical new role
Howie Roseman has been awfully busy in 2020. Philadelphia’s general manager went bold and aggressive early in free agency. First, he signed underrated defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to a three-year contract. He then sent third- and fifth-round picks to the Detroit Lions for talented cornerback Darius Slay. Of course, the Eagles shocked everyone in the 2020 NFL draft by selecting former Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round.
However, the team suffered a critical loss as well. Stalwart right guard Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles in June. That left a gaping hole up front. At least until Tuesday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the Eagles will bring back Jason Peters on a one-year deal. Only instead of taking up his typical left tackle spot, he will replace Brooks at right guard. The deal includes $3 million guaranteed and carries a maximum value of $6 million.
For the Eagles, it definitely helps to bring back a veteran leader like Peters. Instead of book-ending Lane Johnson for another year, he will now play next to the All-Pro right tackle. Still, making a position switch as he nears age 40 makes for a titanic task. It might sound easy to plug-and-play Peters at guard, but he has spent more than a decade honing his craft at tackle.
Now he will have to change his stance, his footwork, and his technique. The Eagles obviously feel confident in the future Hall of Famer’s adaptability. But will Peters successfully make the position switch in what should be the twilight of his career?
Can the Eagles offense stay healthy?
Looking ahead at the 2020 season, the Eagles certainly have a roster worthy of making a deep playoff run. Losing Brooks stings, but Peters certainly has the talent, size, and strength to at least perform at a passable level at right guard.
More importantly, the Eagles must demonstrate that they can stay healthy. Carson Wentz possesses All-Pro talent. Yet, the former No. 2 overall pick hasn’t quite made the leap to elite status and has to prove he can avoid another season-ending injury.
Plus, Philadelphia needs better health from his group of weapons. Last season, Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson combined to play just 13 games. That veteran duo, along with promising second-year wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside and first-round rookie Jalen Reagor, have to stay on the field and produce for Wentz to live up to his potential.
Ultimately, the Eagles offense will only go as far as their offensive line takes them. After locking down one spot for a decade, Jason Peters will have to change his stripes and learn a new position. Let’s see if the experiment works out in Philadelphia’s favor.