Extra Points: Jason Peters’ Eagles Tenure Should Be Ending
Last week's loss at Green Bay was veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters' 213th NFL game and 148th while wearing No. 71 for the Eagles.
It probably was also his last game, at least for the Birds.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson announced Friday that Peters, 38, will miss the rest of the season with a toe injury that requires surgery.
"He wanted to be out there with his teammates, obviously, for the remainder of the season," Pederson said. "It's just to the point now where the injury is a little bit too bad to continue."
One of the reasons the Eagles (3-8-1) enter Sunday's game against New Orleans (10-2) in last place in the NFC East is their decision to keep aging, injury-prone players such as Peters, and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery.
Jackson, who rejoined the Eagles in 2019, has played in seven of the Eagles' 29 regular-season and playoff games over the last two seasons. He's missed the last eight games with a fractured ankle. Jeffery has appeared in the last four games after suffering a Lis Franc foot injury last season, but has been woefully ineffective with just two receptions on the season.
Peters, who turns 39 next month, was once considered the best left tackle in the league, but hasn't come close to playing at that level in several seasons. He earned the last of his nine Pro Bowl berths in 2016. He lasted only seven games the following season after suffering a torn ACL. Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the starting left tackle for the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
He didn't endear himself to the fan base this year with his attitude. Peters was re-signed during the offseason to replace injured Brandon Brooks at right guard, but that changed when left tackle Andre Dillard was lost to a biceps injury. Peters agreed to move to his old position, but only if they gave him a raise.
"He's done everything he can for this football team," Pederson said. "He means a lot to me personally, not only on the field but off the field as well."
Meanwhile, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman let the most important veteran, safety Malcolm Jenkins, leave.
With the Birds unwilling to meet his salary demands, Jenkins rejoined the Saints, who visit Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
During his six-year tenure in Philly, Jenkins emerged as one of the team's strongest and most respected leaders, both on the field and in the locker room. No one has been able to replace him in either role.
"I gave everything I had to that city and team, did everything the coaches asked me to do," Jenkins said earlier this week. "It just wasn't valued that much by the people making the decisions. For me it was about respect. I didn't care what the money was. I wanted to see the respect. I wasn't valued like I thought."
Jenkins returns on Sunday as part of the league's top defense.
That's a pretty daunting assignment for Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will be making his first NFL start. Maybe it would have been better to wait a week or two?
"This is the National Football League," Pederson said. "Every week is difficult. It just so happens that he's going up against the No. 1-rated defense."
Since Jenkins' departure, the Eagles have been scrambling to fill the leadership void. Center Jason Kelce, defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Rodney McLeod are respected veterans, but do not hold sway over the entire team like Jenkins once did.
You would think Carson Wentz would have that kind of power, but as the saying goes, respect is earned not given. And it's hard to command respect when you're currently a second-string quarterback who runs the plays for the scout team in practice.
It wasn't all Wentz's fault, though he bears some of the responsibility through his apparent unwillingness to accept coaching and his stubborn refusal or inability to adjust his playing style.
Pederson also deserves some flak for his questionable play calling and odd strategies relating to fourth-down gambles and two-point conversions. Still, I would not fire him. He delivered the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history and reached the playoffs the last three years. That that earned him one more year to turn things around.
Roseman is a tougher call. Lousy drafts and other personnel decisions such as keeping Peters, Jackson and Jeffery have contributed significantly to the team's sudden decline.
No one one blame owner Jeffrey Lurie if he decides to move on, even if he's close to Roseman.
Same goes for Peters, who strangely considers Lurie as one of his best friends.
According to NBCSportsPhiladelphia, Peters has indicated that he wants to return in 2021 for a 13th NFL season. If he indeed does attempt another comeback, however, it shouldn't be with the Eagles.