Despite Pederson Pledge, Peters’ Future is Far From Cut and Dried
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Eagles coach Doug Pederson would like to have veteran Pro Bowl selection Jason Peters at left tackle in 2016 but want and need are two different animals.
Speaking at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., the new Eagles mentor spoke highly of the now 34-year-old former All-Pro, who pushed his way through an injury-plagued 2015.
"I think J.P.’s got several good years left in him," Pederson told reporters. "I think that he does the right things in the offseason to get himself ready to go for another year. I’m really looking forward to visiting him, talking with him, seeing where he’s at, and then motivating him further for the future."
(Listen to John McMullen discuss Jason Peters future in Philadelphia)
The offensive line was a sore spot for Philadelphia in Chip Kelly's last season, particularly the interior but despite his Pro Bowl recognition, Peters' play certainly wasn't up to his usual standard and while sidelined with a nerve issue in his back, right tackle Lane Johnson flipped sides and proved that he could project as the eventual heir apparent to Peters whenever the veteran's time in town does end.
Peters was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 14th best tackle in football last season while playing 784 offensive snaps, about two-thirds of the team's total because he missed two games and left five others early.
Johnson, meanwhile, was No. 24 in 1,191 reps and is eight years younger than Peters. The Eagles' are expected to work out an extension with Johnson very soon and it could be difficult to carry two tackles with high-salary cap numbers.
One adage nearly every personnel man in the NFL subscribes to is the thought that it's better to give up on a player a year too soon than a year too late.
Peters is scheduled to count over $9 million against the cap next season and has two more years with high numbers after that on his deal if nothing changes so Howie Roseman could still decide the more prudent path moving forward would be to flip Johnson to the left side full-time and draft a tackle at No. 13 overall.
As it stands now, the offensive tackle position is one of the deeper positions with top-of-draft level prospects. Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil is a candidate to go No. 1 overall to Tennessee and athletic Notre Dame option Ronnie Stanley also figures to be a top 10 choice. At 13 the Eagles figure to have a shot at either Michigan State's Jack Conklin or Ohio State's Taylor Decker. And as the process goes on, even Auburn's Shon Coleman has a chance to race up the charts.
The ultimate answer could come down to quarterback versus tackle as in Sam Bradford at $20 million with the aforementioned plan or deciding to draft a signal caller and keep the Peters and Johnson tandem in place at their usual positions, while bringing in a bridge quarterback to mentor the rookie.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen