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Eagles LT Jason Peters may be having his best season at age of 35

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Eagles LT Jason Peters may be having his best season at age of 35

Offensive linemen. We typically only talk about them when they're really bad, or simply incredible. It's time to talk about Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who is playing about as well as he ever has — at 35 years old.

Stop to think about that statement for a moment. Peters is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro. A veteran of 14 seasons, there was about a three-year period from 2011 through 2013 where he was hands down the most dominant offensive lineman in the NFL.

And based on the first six games, 2017 has the potential to be his best campaign yet.

Not bad, considering there was talk that Peters could be a casualty of the salary cap the past two offseasons. There's no reason to sugar-coat it — he's old, has battled injuries, and it certainly looked like regression was beginning to set in. If Chip Kelly were still the head coach of the Eagles, with his constant uptempo offense, there is no doubt in my mind Peters wouldn't be here right now.

But Peters is revitalized since Doug Pederson took over the program. Last season was a bounce-back year, at least enough that the Eagles felt confident in signing Peters to a one-year extension in August. Yet, even 2016 pales in comparison to what he's been able to accomplish thus far.

According to Pro Football Focus, Peters did not allow a single pressure on the quarterback in 37 dropbacks against the Panthers on Thursday night. It was the third time he shut out the opposing defense in the last four weeks, and on the season, he's on the hook for six pressures and one sack total.

Peters has dramatically cut down on penalties as well, which have been an issue even in some of his previous great years. The guys in black and white have only called out No. 71 once so far. Not even Pete Morelli could find fault in his performance.

In '16, Peters allowed 4.0 sacks, 8 quarterback hits and 13 quarterback hurries. Based on overall performance blocking the run and in pass protection, PFF had him graded ninth among all offensive tackles.

Peters is currently second among tackles in PFF's graded, behind only longtime Cleveland Browns stalwart Joe Thomas.

Frankly, the entire Eagles offensive line could take a bow. Since replacing Isaac Seumalo at left guard, the unit has begun staking its claim as the best front in the league.

That all starts with Peters, and it always has. That's how he got the nickname "The Franchise" years ago. But even then, nobody would've imagined a couple years ago he would still be arguably the Eagles' most important player, right up there alongside Carson Wentz.

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.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES BREAKDOWN
*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.

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

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NFL Shop

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who can't get their fill of Super Bowl championship memorabilia. The Eagles' players want in on the surfeit of champs gear as well.

Take Beau Allen for example. A true man of the people, Allen tweeted his desire for this absolutely beautiful leather jacket commemorating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Allen tweeted aloud, wondering why the Birds' players hadn't been issued one of these leather jackets yet?

One guess? They retail for a cool $3,000. Totally worth it. 

You can pick one up right here for a low $2,999.99. It's listed as a "Men's NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded Black/Green Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Full-Button Leather Jacket."

You'll be happy to know it's an officially licensed NFL product and is made in the USA. Just like Beau.