Eagles can create cap space and still keep Jason Peters

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Eagles can create cap space and still keep Jason Peters

Contrary to rumors the Eagles could try to trade Jason Peters, signing the 36-year-old left tackle to a contract extension might make more sense.

The Eagles are well over the projected NFL salary cap for 2018, and Peters’ money looks like an easy target. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection is scheduled to cost more than $10 million next season after suffering a torn ACL in October. Since then, the team went on to win a Super Bowl with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle.

Peters is aging, expensive, recovering from a serious injury, and a young alternative would earn a fraction of his salary — all sound reasons for the Eagles to explore a trade.

“The offense operated well without Peters, and he'd have some value,” an anonymous league executive told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. “The kid who filled in is nothing special, but the offensive line as a whole was fine without Peters.”

La Canfora expects the Eagles to be “proactive” in their effort to move Peters.

I’m not so sure. Entering the final year of his contract, Peters and the Eagles agreed to a new contract last June — a deal fueled in part by Peters’ desire for financial security beyond the 2017 season. Though the pact does not explicitly prohibit a trade, it certainly disincentivizes the Eagles from going down that route.

According to estimates, trading Peters creates only $4.3 million in cap savings for 2018. The Eagles would be on the hook for another $6.3 million, for a player who will no longer be on the roster.

At that point, why not just pay him?

Peters is still the best left tackle on the team. He was well on his way to another Pro Bowl before injury struck. He’s probably the most respected player in the locker room. As long as the stated goal is to repeat as world champions, this is somebody the Eagles should want around.

If money is the motivating factor, extending Peters may prove more helpful. The Eagles can pick up his team option for 2019, perhaps even add a year in 2020, and structure a new contract similar to the deal reached last summer, pushing bonus money into future years to lower his cap hit in '18.

Obviously, there is risk involved. Restructuring kicks the can down the road, so the Eagles will have to deal with the financial consequences next offseason rather than now. 

There aren’t many better options, either. Peters reportedly declined to take a pay cut last offseason — he’s not just going to give the money back. And while the Eagles could recoup some draft picks in a swap, it would come at the expense of their O-line depth, with minimal financial benefit.

Peters was dominant last season. He’s bounced back after major surgery before, returning to form after a torn Achilles in 2012. In fact, every time there’s been concern about Peters’ ability or future, he seems to respond better than ever.

Maybe it’s about time we have some faith in an eventual Hall of Famer and quit trying to ship him out of town.

*Ages as of Sept. 6, 2018

Lane Johnson
Age: 28
2018 cap hit: $12.484 million

How good was Johnson last season? Just look at the names of pass rushers he silenced over the course of the year. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson surrendered three sacks all season while blocking the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, Olivier Vernon, Ryan Kerrigan, Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Chandler Jones, to name a handful.

Jason Peters
Age: 36
2018 cap hit: $10.666 million

News flash: Peters isn’t even the highest-paid tackle on his own team anymore. In fact, his cap hit is third among Eagles O-linemen, behind Johnson and right guard Brandon Brooks. Peters currently ranks 13th among all NFL left tackles, as well, so his contract is hardly some out-of-control cost.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Age: 25
2018 cap hit: $686,000

Is Vaitai the left tackle of the future? Maybe. Analytics haven’t been very kind to 'Big V,' but whether filling in for Peters or Johnson over the past two seasons, he got the job done. Fortunately for the Eagles, Vaitai isn’t a free agent for another two years, so there’s no need to rush to conclusions.

Will Beatty
Age: 33
Free agent

Signed as an insurance policy after the injury to Peters, Beatty’s only action came in the Eagles’ meaningless Week 17 clash against the Cowboys. The club will no doubt look to the draft and continue developing Taylor Hart — re-signed to a futures contract last week — for tackle depth in 2018.

Why last night was so awesome for the Sixers

Why last night was so awesome for the Sixers

We knew last night had the potential to be a very big night for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers were hosting the spiraling-out-the-clock Memphis Grizzlies, while the three teams ahead of them (Cleveland, Indiana and Washington) all had tough road games on the docket. With a Sixers win and a couple other East losses, the Sixers would finally be able to make the huge jump in the standings they've seemingly been poised for since the All-Star break. 

Well, last night couldn't have gone much closer to plan. Though the Cavs did manage to squeak out an impressive shorthanded win over Toronto — strengthening their hold on the 3-seed — the Sixers thumped the Grizzlies, while Indiana lost a squeaker in New Orleans and Washington fell in San Antonio. And thus this morning, for the first time in many, many moons, Sixers fans woke up this morning to find their team currently in position for home-court advantage in the upcoming playoffs. That's right: The Sixers are currently the fourth seed in the East. 

Taking care of business against Memphis wasn't that much of a struggle for the Sixers, either. The 119-105 final score belies how early this game was over — despite also leading by only 14 at halftime, a 41-point third quarter for the home team ensured that Brett Brown wasn't going to have to play his starters in the fourth quarter, getting 'em out of there without any exceeding the 25-minute mark. (Or the 15-point mark — all five starters scored between 13 and 15, some classic Spurs-like efficiency and balance.) 

Now, at 40-30, the Sixers are in position to ensure that their first playoff game in six years is a home game. They're not exactly secure in the fourth seed at the moment — Indiana is also 10 games over .500, but percentage points worse with their one extra win and loss, and the Sixers' schedule isn't 100 percent cupcakes from here or anything. But while things won't always be as easy as the Grizzlies at home in the 12 remaining games for the Ballers, they're not getting that hard again, either — just four games come against teams over .500, and all four of those games are at the Wells Fargo Center.

Meanwhile, the Pacers play seven of their last 10 against playoff teams (four on the road), and the Wiz do so in five of their last 11.

And all the Sixers really need to do at this point is hold serve. Right now, the standings are pretty much exactly how we want them: We play the Pacers at home in the first round, and avoid a possible matchup with LeBron until the (unlikely) conference finals. The Pacers aren't a pushover by any means — they're the only team to beat the Sixers in Philly this calendar year — but I'd rather play them than Cleveland or Washington (especially with John Wall back), and Miami and Milwaukee are a little too far out of the mix at this point. Besides, if the Robert Covington we've gotten the last six games (15 and 5 on 59 percent shooting and 51 percent from three) is the one who shows up for the playoffs, I like our chances against pretty much anybody. 

Joel Embiid roasts Colin Cowherd for Sixers prediction

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Joel Embiid roasts Colin Cowherd for Sixers prediction

Colin Cowherd was worried about Sixers fans blowing up his Twitter account.

Really, his chief concern should have been Joel Embiid.

"The minute that game's over," Cowherd said, "my Twitter account's going to literally be in flames."

Embiid, a social media virtuoso, made certain Cowherd's nightmare came true.

You see, the Sixers on Wednesday night won their 40th game of the season by blasting the 19-win Grizzlies, 119-105, at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

Prior to the season's start, Cowherd, a host of the FS1 show "The Herd," lambasted the thought of Brett Brown's team achieving such a feat.

So a little wager was made:

"You know what I don't like about this, I don't like a couple of pro athletes … suddenly ganging up on me," Cowherd said, joking around. "I'm not a big fan of this."

That's too bad.

Embiid and Simmons felt no sympathy after the victory.

COLIN COWARD.... Coach deserves a lot of credit #40wins #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Now, Philly just needs to get the guy his jersey.

Maybe Embiid can sign it for him: "Trust the Process."

Meanwhile, these guys have 40 wins ... and they're not done yet.