When Peters signed with the Birds back in mid-July, it was with the understanding that he would be the team’s starting right guard to replace the injured Brandon Brooks. The Eagles had decided to go with last year’s No. 1 draft pick, Andre Dillard, to replace Peters at that spot, a position Peters had locked down since 2009.
Dillard was going to be the future. Peters was the past. However, the season-ending injury to Dillard over the weekend threw everything into chaos along the offensive line. Dillard’s back-ups appear to be journeyman Matt Pryor, the unproven Jordan Mailata and rookie fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll and sixth-round pick Prince Tega Wanogho.
Given the nature of those players, everyone assumed Peters would slide back to left tackle and take over his old position, with Pryor likely going back to right guard.
That’s when Peters surprised everyone when he reportedly said he would not play left tackle unless he got a raise. Head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles understandably don’t seem anxious to do that.
“In regard to left tackle, Jason Peters is obviously in the conversation. We do have some young players — Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor, Jack Driscoll, who’s a rookie, obviously, but playing some tackle for us. But we’ve got a couple of guys now, including Jason Peters, that we want to look at over at the left side. J.P. has done an outstanding job coming in, playing the right guard spot. We’re going to continue to look at him there as well, but we have some options.”
There are a number of valid reasons why general manager Howie Roseman should not acquiesce to Peters’ demand for more money to play left tackle. Peters signed a contract for a certain amount and he should honor it. It would also set a bad precedent for future players who are asked to change positions due to an injured teammate. The Eagles are also going to be in salary cap hell next year, and need all the money they can spare this year to roll over into next season.
There really is just one reason to do what Jason Peters wants. Unfortunately, it’s the most important reason of all.
That reason is Carson Wentz.
The Eagles’ offensive line and, Wentz’ blind side, would be most protected with Peters at left tackle, as opposed to the veteran Pryor, the rookies Driscoll and Tega Wanogho, or Mailata, who is essentially a rookie himself. Pryor has looked overmatched at left tackle since Dillard went down, and putting one of the rookies at that spot is inviting an injury to befall the team’s franchise QB.
The Eagles must do whatever is necessary to protect Wentz. Their season hinges on his ability to play as many games as possible. The most logical solution, as well as the one with the greatest chance of success, is to give Peters a few million dollars more to move to the left side.
Is it possible this sets a precedent that the Eagles don’t want to establish? It does, although one could argue Peters, a future Hall of Fame with a close relationship to team owner Jeff Lurie, is an exception. Nevertheless, it’s in the team’s best interest to hold their noses and give in to Peters in order to make him happy and anchoring the left side of the offensive line in 2020.