Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters may not be going anywhere.
One of the most interesting debates of every NFL offseason is discussing who should be a team’s cap casualties, and Peters has been frequently mentioned as a possibility for the Eagles. The sentiment makes sense, as Peters is due a team-high $9.74 million next year, probably a little more than the Eagles would like to be paying him. The team could save $6.74 million by cutting him, and his salary is only going to go up from now on, increasing to $11.2 million in 2017.
Peters was a little bit of a mess this year, seemingly getting hurt in every single game and missing a lot of blocks he would’ve made even in 2014. Somehow, he still limped out of the season with a Pro Bowl bid, but with how much of a joke that honor is now, I don’t really care. Peters showed his first signs of legitimate decline, and the Eagles may want to let him go before he begins to deteriorate as a player even faster.
However, even a constantly injured Peters is better than many of the other options that the Eagles have when analyzing the left tackle position. If they cut him (assuming they can’t trade him; as was seen with Evan Mathis, no one wants an aging, expensive offensive lineman, no matter how good he still is), Lane Johnson would naturally move over to the left side, but then the right tackle slot is exposed. None of the current backups on the Eagles are good enough to actually start at tackle for a full season, so they can’t just plug someone in there.
I suppose they could draft an offensive tackle in the first round, which would make me happy for sure, but then they’d be leaving the guard position exposed, a position group that is one of the weakest on the roster. The trio of Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin and Allen Barbre just isn’t going to get it down around here. The team can afford to start one of those players, but Barbre is already old, and Gardner and Tobin are no more than backups who were forced to start because of injuries. Starting two of the three again like they did for the entirety of 2015 would be a mistake. Drafting a guard may be more beneficial at the moment.
Cutting Peters would probably be the same situation as cutting Mathis last year. They’d be letting go of an expensive and older offensive lineman who was just a year or two removed from being an All-Pro. I would be shocked if Peters reverted to below average play in 2016 regardless of nagging injuries. When on the field, he’s still more than serviceable. And since they already have him under contract, why not hold onto him another year?
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This would allow them to draft a guard (and maybe even a tackle later too) this year and slowly rebuild the offensive line. Johnson and Jason Kelce are locks to remain with the team, but having just two offensive lineman isn’t good enough. They need to get a good young guard that can develop with the team. Having Johnson, Peters, Kelce, a first-round guard and then one filler guy is still a really solid line to deal with in 2016. However, letting Peters go just because he’s starting to decline and is getting a lot of money might not be a viable option right now. They need experienced, talented linemen to block for whoever is going to play quarterback next year, and I believe keeping Peters for one more year is still worth it.