When the offseason began, there was definitely a sense of unknown regarding Jason Peters.
The Eagles faced an offseason that presented tremendous salary cap challenges, Peters had just turned 36, carried a $10.7 salary cap hit in 2018 and was coming off another injury.
And his replacement, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, was much cheaper and had played very well down the stretch and during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run.
It wouldn’t have been a shock to anybody if the Eagles moved on from Peters.
Yet here we are almost two months later, and Peters remains an Eagle and at this point will almost certainly be an Eagle in 2018.
Why is Peters still here? Let’s consider some of the reasons:
1. Effect in the locker room
Peters is so respected and even beloved in the locker room. It’s no coincidence photos showed him holding the Lombardi Trophy as he slept on the flight back from Minneapolis after the Super Bowl.
The Eagles have already lost several veterans from the Super Bowl team. LeGarrette Blount and Brent Celek were tremendous leaders, and Donnie Jones, Trey Burton, Torrey Smith, Vinny Curry and Beau Allen were all important parts.
The response in the locker room if Peters’ name was added to the list would have been monumental. There wouldn’t be a revolt, but there would be a lot of unhappy Eagles.
2. He’s really not that expensive
Peters isn’t a bargain, but he’s not that expensive. His $10.667 million cap figure is 12th highest in the league among offensive tackles, and his $6.75 million 2018 base salary is 14th highest in the league among tackles.
The Eagles would save $3,916,666 under the cap if they released him and carry $10,666,666 in dead money in 2018. That’s a significant cap saving, but not an astronomical one.
3. Reggie and Dawk
Jeff Lurie bought the Eagles just two years after Norman Braman let Reggie White leave, and Lurie has regretted the way Brian Dawkins was allowed to leave after the 2008 season.
Lurie and Peters have a strong relationship, and there is no way Lurie wants to be the owner of a franchise that cut ties with White, Dawkins and Peters, three Hall of Famers.
4. Quick healer
Peters is coming off a serious knee injury. He tore his ACL and MCL in late October vs. the Redskins.
But nobody can doubt Peters’ work ethic when it comes to rehabbing. This is a guy who suffered two torn Achilles injuries in 2012 — one that March and a second in May — leading some to speculate that his career was over.
But he was 100 percent by opening day and played that entire 2013 season, making the Pro Bowl and being named first-team All-Pro.
5. What do we really know about Big V?
Vaitai played better and better and was very good in the postseason, but he’s still a 24-year-old former fifth-round pick with 16 career starts — only nine at left tackle.
Vaitai has been good, but have we seen enough of him to feel confident that he can replace a legend?
Peters is not like other human beings who inhabit the planet Earth. Even at 35 years old, he was as dominating as ever before he got hurt, and he’s made the Pro Bowl nine straight years he’s been healthy.
He’s shown no sign of slowing down, and the Eagles clearly don’t expect him to anytime soon.