If Reggie White had been an offensive lineman, he would have been Jason Peters.
J.P. was that good.
During that stretch from 2009 through 2016, no left tackle in the NFL was better. Very few have ever been better.
Unimaginably strong, impossibly agile. He seemed closer to a mythical superhero than just a big strong dude playing a game.
Now? Now Jason Peters is just an above-average left tackle. Maybe the 12th- or 13th-best left tackle in the game.
Which isn’t bad at all. But he’s not nearly the player he once was, and when the greatest of all begins that inevitable decline, that’s never easy to watch.
And it’s never easy saying good-bye.
But the Eagles HAVE to say good-bye to Jason Peters.
“Me personally, one of my weaknesses is getting attached to our players,” Howie Roseman, Jan. 8, 2020
Roseman and Doug Pederson both spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday about Peters, and neither sounded like they were ready to let go quite yet.
Pederson said simply he wants Peters back.
Howie said Peters is a “Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame person, someone who’s very special to us, played at a very high level this year.”
One of the biggest mistakes a GM can make is basing decisions on emotion instead of on cool, level-headed analysis.
In the wake of a season in which the Eagles re-signed Peters, Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson, Roseman conceded last month that he's tended to let emotions affect his decision making.
Andy Reid told me once that a head coach should never hire his friends as assistant coaches because you never want to have to fire your friends.
You can’t keep players just because of what they meant to the franchise in the past or how much you personally admire them or because of what kind of player they used to be. You’re not going to win if you build a team that way.
“We need to infuse youth in this team,” Howie Roseman, Jan. 8, 2020
Roseman said all the right stuff when he spoke just a few days after the playoff loss to the Seahawks.
He seemed to understand his own mis-steps in trying to build a post-Super Bowl roster, and he seemed determined not to make them again.
The Eagles began the 2019 season as the 3rd-oldest NFL team and finished it as the NFL’s most injured team, and Roseman was very clear last month about the challenge he faced shedding aging players, identifying young talent and building a younger, faster, healthier team.
There’s nobody those concepts apply to more than Peters.
You can’t stand up there and talk about infusing youth into the team and then re-sign a declining 38-year-old left tackle who’s missed all or a significant part of 23 games since the start of 2017.
If Howie Roseman is serious about getting younger and faster and healthier and building a team that can stay together for the next few years, Jason Peters can’t be this team’s left tackle in 2020.
“You have to let young players play,” Howie Roseman, Jan. 8, 2020
The Eagles just 10 months ago traded the 25th pick in the 1st round and 4th- and 6th-round picks to the Ravens to move up to No. 22 and draft Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard. He played three games in place of an injured Peters in 2019 and was very good. He tried to play right tackle after Lane Johnson got hurt, and it was a disaster.
But the worst thing you can do to the 24-year-old Dillard is bury him on the bench behind Peters and stunt his development.
Why trade up for the guy if you're not going to play him? Why invest the money and time and resources just to let him sit and watch the aging, injury-plagued Peters? You have Dillard’s rights for five years and you’re really going to spend (at least) 40 percent of that period letting him ride the bench?
That’s not how you build a football team, and Howie knows it.
You don't essentially trade up for a guy and then bench him for a 38-year-old fading superstar.
And when Howie says things like: “One of my weaknesses is getting attached to our players,” and, “We need to infuse this team with youth,” and, “You have to let young player play?”
That’s all terrific advice.
Howie needs to listen very closely to his own words.
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