INDIANAPOLIS — Jason Peters turned 37 in January. Darren Sproles will turn 36 in June.
Despite the fact that they were the two oldest players on the Eagles’ roster in 2018, head coach Doug Pederson on Wednesday from the NFL’s annual scouting combine, indicated he’d like to have them back in 2019.
Jason Peters is a valuable part of our offense and our offensive line. If Jason Peters … it’s a lot like Darren Sproles. We’re kind of going down the same path with Darren Sproles.
If these guys want an opportunity, you love both of them and you give them an opportunity. Jason, I feel, still has some opportunity for us. We’ll see where it goes, we’ll see where it ends up.
Neither Pederson nor Howie Roseman fully committed to Peters or Sproles being back next season.
And while Pederson seems to be keen on a return of Peters and Sproles, the two respected veterans are in very different situations. Peters is under contract with a cap hit over $13 million in 2019, while Sproles is set to become a free agent on Mar. 13. Both are obviously at the age where the possibility of retirement is prevalent.
With Peters, the Eagles could simply cut him and save over $10 million of cap space, but if they do that, who would play left tackle? The Eagles have Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jordan Mailata, but Big V seemed to regress in 2018 and Mailata is still learning the game. Roseman added 2018 sixth-round pick Matt Pryor to the mix as well. But it seems very possible that Peters at left tackle is still the Eagles’ best bet next season.
While Peters played in all 16 games in 2018, he came out of several games early as he dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout the season.
I asked Roseman how they evaluate whether or not Peters can still be effective at his advanced age:
He’s not a normal human being. He’s freaky. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer as a player and as a person. So normal rules don’t apply when it comes to Jason.
Peters dealt with several injuries during last season, but the fact that he was still coming back from a torn ACL in 2017 shouldn’t be lost. Late in the season, Peters said he didn’t feel like himself at the start of the 2018 campaign.
As for Sproles, his original intention was to retire after the 2018 season. He wanted to come back from a torn ACL and go out on his own terms, but a serious hamstring injury forced him to miss 10 games last season. So he’s played in just nine games in the last two years.
Because of the hamstring injury, Sproles began to publicly rethink his decision to retire. Toward the end of the season, he showed he still had a little juice left.
“I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want Darren Sproles on their football team,” Roseman said.
In general, the Eagles probably need to get younger. They had 12 guys on the roster in 2018 who are now 30. Even if they think they will be in contention for a title in 2019, they need to think about the future as well. There’s a balance, of course.
And maybe they can get something out of their two oldest players for one more season.
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