A week after the Eagles left open the possibility that Jason Peters would return as their left tackle in 2020, the franchise is prepared to move on.
The Eagles will allow the 38-year-old Peters to become a free agent on March 18, Peters’ agent Vincent Taylor of Elite Loyalty Sports confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. After initial talks, both sides agreed to part for now.
The Eagles also released this statement.
Taylor said this doesn’t necessarily close the door on a return for Peters in 2020, but it does seem like it decreases the likelihood of that happening. The two sides will remain in contact throughout the free agency process, Taylor said, and are definitely leaving things on good terms.
Since Peters was under contract last season, the Eagles have exclusive negotiating rights with him until March 16, when the legal tampering window opens, but they are no longer working toward a deal before that date hits.
If Peters is indeed gone in 2020, the Eagles will turn the position over to his understudy, 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard.
Doug Pederson last week at the combine said “heck yeah” he wanted Peters back for 2020 and made it clear that it’ll be either Peters or Dillard starting at left tackle next season. If Peters is back, he’s the starter. If he isn’t, it’s Dillard. Another thing to keep in mind is that Halapoulivaati Vaitai will become a free agent, leaving the Eagles light in the depth department.
The Eagles’ comments about Peters/Dillard at the combine last week set off a little firestorm over the last week, with Eagles fans wondering if the team would really decide to keep Peters instead of going with Dillard. That also led to questions about Dillard’s readiness to start and even trade rumors around his name. For what it’s worth, Dillard held his own at his three starts for Peters at left tackle in 2019.
Even though he’s 38 now, Peters played at a relatively high level in 13 games last season and there will be teams interested in bringing him in next season. In 2019, Peters returned to the Eagles on a re-worked one-year contract. Despite his string of injuries, Peters has started 32 of 35 total games over the last two years. (He did leave several early.)
Peters has been with the Eagles for 11 seasons, dating back to 2009. He’s the longest-tenured Eagles player and the second-longest tenured major athlete in the city. The Eagles traded a first-, fourth- and sixth-round pick to the Bills for the 27-year-old in 2009. It ended up being one of the greatest trades in franchise history.
During his time in Philly, Peters was a Pro Bowler seven times and was an All-Pro twice. He has also been more than willing to tutor his understudies, most notably Lane Johnson and Dillard last year.
If Dillard is able to become the left tackle of the future, he’ll continue the tradition. Peters held the left tackle spot for a decade after Tra Thomas held the job for a decade.
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