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Peters Principle: What’s Next

Posted By Christopher Rowe On Apr 1 2012 @ 1:56 pm In Philadelphia Eagles | 7 Comments

Jason Peters the five-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, will undergo surgery Tuesday after rupturing the Achilles tendon in his right leg while working out in Texas. Peters, 30, suffered the injury on March 27, the team said in a statement. Apparently the injury occurred while Peters was participating in his usual offseason workout routine and is similar to that suffered by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard to end the 2011 NLDS.

[1]Peters had  just completed his best season, anchoring the Eagles offensive line and helping  LeSean McCoy to a career season (17  TD, 1309 rushing yards plus 3 rec TD). The Eagles rushing offense also improved  (to 5th overall in rushing yards) throughout the 2011 season thanks  to Peters influence on rookies Jason  Kelce and Danny Watkins as well  as young Julian Vandervelde. Peters  was selected to the 2011 Pro Bowl as a starter and was a 2010 second team All-Pro selection.

[2]While there is no doubt that the injury to Jason Peters is a crushing blow for an Eagles team that believed its offensive line would be a strength in 2012, this does not fell the Eagles hope to return to the playoffs. Peters’ season-ending injury is a decimating shock, but the impact may be counterbalanced by the odd timing of the incident.

 

With one month to go before the 2012 NFL Draft and the entire spring and summer to make other roster moves, the Eagles do have a few solid options to recover from such a setback.  They could choose to use their first round (15th) pick on an offensive tackle or they might find some talent on the waiver wire. This will be determined largely by the long-term prognosis for Peters’ return in 2013…or 2014.

According to medical sources, Peters’ ankle likely would be immobilized for two to four weeks, and he would undergo physical therapy for motion and strengthening over several grueling months. He likely will miss a minimum of four to six months of
football activity. Surgery to repair the tendon is scheduled for the Rothman
Institute in Philadelphia and will be performed by Dr. Steve Raikin. Once completed, the recovery timetable will be determined.

[3]The Eagles acquired Peters from the Buffalo Bills for the 28th overall pick in 2009. The Eagles also sent a fourth-round pick (121st overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft and a late conditional pick (6th round) in the 2010 Draft. Peters has been named to every Pro Bowl since 2007 and has become one of the preeminent offensive linemen in the NFL. He played five seasons for the Bills, 3½ as a starter. Undrafted out of Arkansas, Peters (6-foot-4,  340-pound) is a native of Queen City, Texas. Due to the
dispute with the Bills Peters was traded on April 17, 2009.

On April 17, 2009, the Eagles announced they had signed the newly-acquired Peters to a six-year contract for $60 million to keep him in Philadelphia through 2014. Peters had two years left on his existing contract, so Philadelphia had essentially torn up the last two seasons and given him a new contract. Head coach Andy Reid  (a former offensive lineman himself and long a proponent of the importance of a  strong presence in the trenches) added,

“Jason Peters is the best left tackle in football. He is a powerful and athletic tackle and I have admired his play over the last few years on film.”

[4]While the prognosis for Peters remains to be seen, it was a matter of hours before contingency plans for the Eagles became the fodder of rumor mongers. The first move by the team was to re-sign King Dunlap, which ensures depth on the offensive line but Dunlap has proven that he is not a 16-game starter in the NFL. He is an adequate and oversized backup at several positions.

Evan Mathis had already chosen to return weeks earlier and the remainder of the  starters will return for 2012. Howard Mudd, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman
will likely have their work cut out for them trying to swing a trade when all 31 teams know the Eagles are in need of veteran talent. Quality offensive tackles certainly do not grow on trees and teams tend to hoard offensive line talent as much as franchise QB or rookie contract RB for obvious reasons.

[5]Essentially the Eagles need to determine whether or not the Peters injury will derail their 2012 draft strategy or simply accelerate the search for Peters’ eventual successor. Originally the positions of need had been identified as linebacker, safety, cornerback and then seeking depth at OL, RB, QB or possibly WR. Salary cap and other considerations will all factor in,
but since the Eagles have not made their draft strategy public, this is all pure speculation.

[6]Recent moves such as trading for MLB DeMeco Ryans, re-signing disgruntled DeSean Jackson (who now appears much more gruntled) and inking Trent Edwards to compete with Mike Kafka
replacing Vince Young as a backup QB
have collectively confused the public and media alike.

[7]Free agency is probably the best option for an Eagles
team more afraid over the over 30 crowd than the overseers in Blade Runner. Most of the available options are roughly the same age as Peters but the Eagles seem to be targeting younger. Rumors of Baltimore Ravens Michael Oher being part of a trade involving Asante Samuel is pure speculation at this point, but Samuel’s being on the trading block is concrete reality. Samuel could be involved in a deal placing him in a different uniform for 2012 and should welcome such an opportunity.

Demetrius Bell

[8]Several sources have already identified Bell as he top
option. The Eagles already have a visit lined up with the former Buffalo Bills starting left tackle and have a lot of success plucking offensive line talent from Western New York State. While he’s battled injuries of his own, Bell has started 30 career games and would represent a smart Band-Aid option until  Peters comes back in 2013, not to mention a certain symmetry of substituting  for Peters.

 

[9]Marcus McNeill

McNeill was cut from San Diego due to injury issues over
the last two years. Philadelphia could certainly offer a chance to prove he can stay healthy and win the job on the left side. McNeill isn’t far removed from
the days when many considered him a top left tackle AND Coaches Reid and Mudd are proponents of the “you-can-never-have-too-many-offensive-lineman” principle.

 

[10]Barry Richardson

One of the NFL’s least effective tackles the last two years, but Richardson is still just 25 years old and could use a change of  scenery. While no one should expect him to be the ultimate answer, Richardson might be worth a roster invite to see if offensive line coach Howard Mudd can get anything out of the  youngster. He certainly would be the least costly investment of the group.

[11]2012 Draft could offer several very appealing options on
the offensive line. Predicting the NFL Draft past the first 5 spots is like asking a group of quadriplegic lepers to herd cats in a zero gravity environment while wearing blindfolds.

There are so many moving parts, potential deals and surprise picks that we’d be fools to try but we do so anyway because it is fun. Expectations are that Andrew Luck goes to Indianapolis with the first pick, followed quickly by Washington  snatching RGIII second.

[12]Minnesota holds the third pick and could go several different ways, possibly considering help at skill positions (Trent Richardson, Ryan Tannehill, Justin
Blackmon
), offensive line (Matt
Kalil
) or something entirely departed from conventional wisdom. Following
them are Cleveland and Tampa Bay, who have very real desperation on the
offensive side of the ball and who are very likely to grab Richardson or
Blackmon if available.

[13]Since the Eagles pick at number 15, any number of possibilities may present themselves. A trade is unlikely but Asante Samuel has appeal to some NFL teams. Most likely the Eagles will wait patiently and take the best available player with that 15th overall pick. Perhaps this
would be OL Matt Kalil or LB Luke Kuechly, CB Morris Claiborne or even QB Ryan Tannehill. The Eagles did take a long look at all three players during
the NFL Scouting Combine and also did their homework on Robert Griffin III indicating that they may be just as likely to
draft Michael Vick’s successor as
they would to address their glaring needs on defense.

Would DE Melvin Ingram or Qunton Coples be able to start opposite Trent Cole or get lost in the rotation of complimentary pass rushers? Is Riley Reiff a huge
dropoff from Kalil or are both OL blue chip caliber players? Perhaps the Eagles
will wait to see if Dontari Poe falls to them in an effort to shore up their DT situation? Quoth the Eagle…ya never know!

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