Foreshadowing Jason Peters’ Future
(973espn.com) - When it comes to Jason Peters' future with the Philadelphia Eagles you can call the decision competency vs. Canton-ese.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced the 36-year-old Peters in the lineup and offered the former at a far cheaper rate than Peters is set to earn in 2018. The latter, meanwhile, doesn't refer to the preferred language of many Chinese in Southeast Asia, it's where the GPS is set for The Bodyguard's post-NFL home, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Vaitai showed enough as a second-year pro to believe he could be a starter moving forward at a very favorable rate for a salary-cap strapped team, at least for the next two seasons under his rookie deal.On the other hand, Peters, is set to earn $10.25 million next season while fighting off Father Time and attempting to make his way back from a torn ACL.
That's an easy decision for a team starting this process nearly $10M over the cap, right?
Not so fast.
No player in the Eagles' locker room is more respected than Peters and coach Doug Pederson had already explained he wants the nine-time Pro Bowl selection back to help protect Carson Wentz's blindside, even more important than before because the Eagles' franchise quarterback is also set to return from a torn ACL.
Howie Roseman stopped short of affirming Peters would be back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week but he also didn't shy away from explaining just how important the big man is to this organization.
"Jason Peters is a Hall of Fame player," Roseman said. "I think the most amazing thing about Jason is that every year people ask about his age, ask about him. And he continues to defy the odds. And when you go back and look at our season and you look at his reps, he was dominant. He wasn’t just good, he was dominant."
That sure doesn't sound like a guy ready to hand the baton to a replacement who was better than anyone expected but hardly dominant.
Then you have Peters' impact on the team as an emotional leader. He stuck around during the team's Super Bowl run, mentoring Vaitai every step of the way. Even the team's other All-Pro caliber linemen like Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson speak with reverence when talking about Peters.
"One of the unsung stories of our season was that group of six guys (on IR) who were in the training room every day," Roseman said. "And instead of sulking about their role on the team, they were out there encouraging their position groups, working as hard as possible."
Peters was obviously among that group.
The big day when it comes to the Peters watch is March 16, the third day of the new league year and the date $4.5M of Peters' base salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed.
And if you are looking for some foreshadowing, consider this:
"When we’re talking about Jason Peters, we’re not just talking about any guy," Roseman said. "We’re talking about a Hall of Fame, transcendent talent who can continue to play at a tremendously high level."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen