Kamu signed. Nelly signed. Jernigan signed.
Most of them have signed.
Thirteen of the Eagles’ 17 free agents have signed somewhere, four back with the Eagles, nine with new teams.
Josh McCown, Vinny Curry and Corey Clement remain unsigned, which isn't surprising.
And then there’s Jason Peters, who remains without a team 2 1/2 weeks into free agency. Which is surprising.
It took Peters’ backup, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, less than a day to land a five-year, $45 million contract. He’s started four games over the last two years.
But Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time all-pro, remains out of work.
Going into free agency, Peters was rated as a top-50 free agent on CBS’s list of the top 100 free agents - and he was No. 1 among Eagles. But he’s one of only two of those top 50 that hasn’t signed. The other is cornerback Logan Ryan.
Peters, by all accounts, remains a very good left tackle. So why is he still looking for a job 17 days after the start of free agency?
Hee’s five possible reasons:
1) HE’S 38: Peters turned 38 in January, so the only teams that would be interested are teams that need a left tackle and are in win-now mode, maybe with a promising young tackle who needs a mentor and isn’t quite ready to play. But there just aren’t many of those teams. There have only been five offensive tackles in NFL history who’ve been full-time starters at 38 or older (Ray Brown, Andrew Whitworth, Lomas Brown, Mike Kenn and Jackie Slater). That history can’t help Peters’ value.
2) THE INJURIES: He’s not the player he was during his prime, but when he’s been healthy he’s played well. But Peters has started and finished only 31 of a possible 54 games since 2017, and teams have to be wondering whether Peters can stay healthy enough to be worth signing. The sight of Peters limping off the field in the middle of a game became fairly frequent over the last few seasons. Nobody questions Peters’ toughness, but he’s averaged only 10 complete games per year over the last three seasons, and a year older it’s tough to think that number is going to go up. That could be scaring teams away.
3) THE DRAFT: The draft later this month is stocked with left tackles. As many as six could go in the first round and there could be four or five taken just in the first 20 picks. The draft is loaded, and if you’re a team that needs a left tackle - the Dolphins, Cards, Jets, Broncos and Giants are among those that could use one - why sign Peters when you might be about to land your franchise guy in three weeks? And if you’re getting him in the top 20 picks, you’re counting on him to start from Day 1. And you’re getting a young, healthy guy who’s going to be on a four-year, cap friendly rookie deal.
4) MONEY: We don’t know how much Peters is looking for, and his contract demands are certainly dropping. But it’s possible he’s priced himself out of the market. This is a guy who’s made about $70 million in his career, and it’s hard to imagine he’s interested in playing for minimum wage. He made $6 million last year, and he’s a very proud guy, a likely Hall of Famer. If somebody offered him $2 million for one year? Maybe he’s just not interested.
5) THE OFFSEASON: Because the NFL has cancelled all of its spring activities, Peters can’t work out for teams that might be interested, and when you’re 38 and you’ve been battling injuries, teams could be reluctant to sign you without their own doctors checking you out.
When the Eagles cut ties with Peters, they issued a statement saying among other things: “We will remain in communication as each side continues to evaluate its options in free agency.”
So what are the chances they bring him back?
The Eagles traded up to draft Andre Dillard last year for a reason. If they truly wanted Peters to play left tackle in 2020, they never would have let him go in the first place.
Would Peters come back as a backup? The only backup tackle the Eagles have at this point is Jordan Mailata, who has never played a snap in a meaningful football game on any level. Guard Matt Pryor might get a look outside.
Would Peters come back as a sub if he can’t get a job elsewhere?
Would it be fair to Dillard to have an all-time great backing him up? Would Peters be able to transition from a guy who expects to play every Sunday to possibly having to come off the bench at a moment’s notice? Would the Eagles even want to risk having a backup tackle that’s injury prone?
Lots of questions.
It still seems more likely than not that Peters will be on the field somewhere for an 18th NFL season. But with each passing day, the chances grow that his brilliant career could be over.
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