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July 15, 2020

A closer look at the Eagles' re-signing of Jason Peters

Eagles NFL
071520JasonPeters Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The bodyguard is back.

As you saw on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Jason Peters back on a one-year deal. Heading into his 17th NFL season, Peters will play guard for the first time, or at least that's where the team has listed him. More specifically, he'll fill in at RG to replace Brandon Brooks, who is done for the season with a torn Achilles.

The money

Peters' deal was widely reported as having $3 million in guarantees, and is worth up to $6 million. The particulars will eventually come out, but on the surface it appears to be a reasonable deal for Howie Roseman and the Eagles' front office.

Depth

Yes, Peters is filling into a starting role, and he'll likely be an upgrade over former presumptive starting RG favorite Matt Pryor, but he also helps in terms of overall OL depth. Prior to the Peters signing, the Eagles' OL depth chart looked something like this:

 LTLG RG RT 
 Andre DillardIsaac Seumalo Jason Kelce Matt Pryor Lane Johnson 
 Jordan MailataJack Driscoll Nate Herbig Jack Driscoll Jack Driscoll 
 Prince Tega Wanogho Sua Opeta Luke JurigaJulian Good-Jones Jordan Mailata 
   Keegan Render  


With Peters back, it now looks more like this:

 LTLG RG RT 
 Andre DillardIsaac Seumalo Jason Kelce Jason Peters Lane Johnson 
 Jason PetersJack Driscoll Nate Herbig Matt Pryor Jack Driscoll 
 Jordan Mailata Sua Opeta Luke JurigaJulian Good-Jones Jordan Mailata 
 Prince Tega Wanogho  Keegan Render  Matt Pryor


What are the differences? There are both obvious and subtle differences.

Upgrade at RG: As noted above, Peters will likely be an upgrade over Pryor as the starting RG. Earlier this offseason, we took a detailed look at the three games Pryor played in during the 2019 seasonThe conclusion I drew from that exercise was that Pryor is best suited as a backup, and maybe only at guard. His size and power are nice, but if he were to have to start multiple games, opposing defensive coordinators would look to put him in situations where he was forced to try to handle speed and quickness. There's less concern with that with Peters in place, even if he's moving to a new position.

• Andre Dillard bust insurance: Through the entirety of this offseason, there was speculation that Peters could be back, though it was in the context of coming back to start at LT in place of Dillard, not at RG. There's really no way to sugarcoat it -- Dillard was bad as a rookie. This offseason, Dillard has bulked up a bit, which should help with his issues anchoring against power in 2019. To be determined if he can be a substantially better player in 2020.

Having Peters in place allows the Eagles to hand over the starting reins to Dillard at LT, while also covering themselves in case Dillard just isn't getting the job done in Year 2. They can sort of have their cake and eat it too.

If Dillard plays well, great! If he falters and has to be benched, it's better to find out about his makeup now, so that LT can be a focus for the team next offseason, but at least they're covered in the short term.

Better depth at LT (and maybe RT?): Even if Dillard is an acceptable starting LT, Peters is nice to have as LT depth, and maybe even at RT as well? Is that a stretch? Like, if Lane Johnson got hurt, for example... If you're Doug Pederson or Jeff Stoutland, would you feel more comfortable with Jason Peters at RT and Matt Pryor at RG, or, say, Peters at RG and either Pryor, Jordan Mailata, or rookie Jack Driscoll at RT? Peters being on the roster gives the team more options.

Less of a load on DriscollAs we noted last week, because of the COVID-shortened offseason, the Eagles aren't likely to try to cross-train their rookies, and will instead allow them to focus in on one position initially.

The one exception was likely to be Driscoll, out of necessity. Before Peters' arrival, the Eagles might have felt that they had to get Driscoll ready to play at three different positions -- LG, RG, and RT, while also perhaps giving him an opportunity to compete with Pryor for the starting RG job. 

Now, Driscoll can forget about RG, and the Eagles can have him hone in on RT, or a combo of RT and LG. The bet here is that they'll allow him to concentrate on RT.

Can, you know, Peters actually play RG?

Your guess is as good as mine, though the transition from tackle to guard isn't a super daunting task. Older offensive linemen commonly make that transition, and Peters is such a smart player, and a physical freak of nature that there's little reason to doubt his ability to adjust. However, he isn't just moving from tackle to guard -- He's also switching from the left side to the right side, which adds an extra level of difficulty. 

Yes, Peters is really old, but he's been really old for like five years now, lol. The bet here is that he will figure it out between now and the start of the regular season.

Veteran mentor

And then, of course, keeping Peters in the locker room is always a great thing. As noted above, Peters is a threat to Dillard's starting role at LT, but Peters has also generously mentored young players throughout his career, including Dillard. Peters can continue to take Dillard under his wing, while his mere presence should also keep Dillard motivated not to lose his job.

It'll be fun

The idea of Kelce, Peters, and Johnson, three players who will all be Eagles legends when their playing careers are over, all playing on the right side of the line together, just seems like it'll be fun. I mean, right? 

Overall, it's hard to find any issues at all with Peters' return to the team. It all feels very positive.


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