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January 21, 2019

Eagles stay or go: Offensive tackle

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 season is over, and there will be a lot of interesting decisions made on the players currently on the roster, perhaps more so than in most years. Let's take a position-by-position look at who will likely be back with the team in 2019, and who won't. 

Previous stay or go positional analysis

Quarterback Running back Wide receiver | Tight end

Today we'll look at the offensive tackles.

Jason Peters

The first question with Peters is, will he retire? If so, he'll go down as one of the greatest Eagles of all-time, in my view.

If he decides he still wants to continue to play, however, the Eagles will then have an extremely difficult decision of their own on whether or not they will release him.

While Peters started all 18 games this season (16 regular season, 2 playoffs), he missed at least one snap in 11 of them. As such, the thinking was that Peters was a liability because he couldn't finish games, a sentiment that I do agree with, to some degree. However, I think his full slate of snap counts in 2018 is worth examining:

Opponent Snaps Percentage 
 Falcons71 of 72 98.6% 
 Buccaneers8 of 79 10.1% 
 Colts82 of 82 100% 
 Titans78 of 78 100% 
 Vikings55 of 59 93.2% 
 Giants38 of 71 53.5% 
 Panthers61 of 67 91.0% 
 Jaguars43 of 62 69.4% 
Cowboys 62 of 62 100% 
Saints51 of 51 100% 
Giants 65 of 65 100% 
Redskins 70 of 75 93.3% 
Cowboys 52 of 52 100% 
Rams 61 of 64 95.3% 
Texans 5 of 82 6.1% 
Redskins 66 of 71 93.0% 
Bears 68 of 68 100% 
Saints 37 of 51 72.5% 
TOTAL 973 of 1211 80.3% 

While he missed at least one snap in 11 of 18 games, he also played at least 90 percent of the snaps in 13 of 18 games. He played at least half the snaps in all but two games, as he was lost early in both the Buccaneers and Texans games.

Peters was coming off an ACL tear at the age of 35, and he admitted that it was still barking at him during the season. In addition to the recovery from that ACL surgery, Peters suffered an assortment of other injuries, including a quad injury, which may have occurred because he was favoring one leg over the other, which is common for players coming off major surgery.

Will Peters' penchant for coming out of games accelerate at the age of 36, or will it stabilize a bit another year removed from his ACL surgery? That is a question that the Eagles and their medical staff will have to try to figure out. I certainly don't know the answer.

When he was able to play, while certainly not the dominant player he once was, Peters was still probably an above average left tackle in a league that generally doesn't have great offensive line play.

Peters is set to count for $10,666,668 against the cap in 2019, $8,000,000 of which the team would save if they release him. That may sound like a lot, but there are currently 14 left tackles in the NFL set to count for more than that in 2019 (per OverTheCap), and that number will almost certainly rise after free agency.

Peters' situation is very complex, with a whole host of questions with not-so-obvious answers, such as... 

  1. Is "80 percent of the snaps Peters" worth $10,666,666 on your cap, and how will the medical staff project his health going forward?
  2. Will Jeffrey Lurie's close relationship with Peters factor in?
  3. How much does the team value Peters' mentoring of the younger offensive linemen?
  4. Does the perceived dearth of offensive tackle talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, as well as the exorbitant cost of offensive linemen in free agency make it exceedingly difficult to part with a starter, thus also depleting depth? 
  5. Are the Eagles comfortable with Halapoulivaati Vaitai starting if Peters is gone, and if so, who is the swing tackle if he gets elevated to that spot? 
  6. Where is Jordan Mailata in his development as a pro?
Some of those questions are easier to answer than others, and Peters' situation this offseason will be very interesting to watch.

#JimmyVerdict: I'm undecided on whether or not the Eagles would be better off with Peters still on the roster, or if the team is better served to have the $8 million against the cap they would save if they release him. My gut says the team will keep him if he doesn't retire.

Your verdict:

Lane Johnson

Johnson is the best right tackle in the NFL, in my opinion. In 2017, he was the best tackle in the NFL, right or left. I think he might be back.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

While I don't think Vaitai is an ideal starting left tackle in the NFL, I also think you could do a lot worse. As a reserve swing tackle capable of playing both LT and RT, Vaitai has become a very valuable asset to the team.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Jordan Mailata

Mailata's growth from the first day of training camp to the final preseason game was unlike anything I've ever seen in the NFL. He is a size-athleticism freak of nature with a high ceiling, but obviously, he is such an unpredictable study, seeing as the Eagles' first preseason game five months ago was his first game, ever. Like... ever.

Clearly, he'll be back, but it's impossible to predict when he'll be ready to play in real games at the NFL level, given his unprecedented lack of experience.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Red = Go

Orange = Will be back in camp in 2019, but a roster spot is not guaranteed

(Note: Some mobile versions will not display colors.)

 QBCarson Wentz Nick Foles Nate Sudfeld  
 RB Jay AjayiCorey Clement Darren Sproles  
 RB (cont.)Wendell Smallwood Josh Adams Boston Scott  
 WR Alshon JefferyMike Wallace  Nelson AgholorGolden Tate 
 WR (cont.)Mack Hollins Shelton Gibson Jordan Matthews  
 TE Zach ErtzDallas Goedert Richard Rodgers Josh Perkins 
 OT Jason PetersLane Johnson Halapoulivaati Vaitai Jordan Mailata 
 Head coach    
 Offensive coordinator    
 Defensive coordinator    

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