April 20th, 2009, is a day most Eagles fans probably won’t immediately recognize. On this day, the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to trade the 28th overall pick and a fourth-rounder in the 2009 NFL draft, along with a 2010 6th round pick for Jason Peters. The Eagles head coach at the time, Andy Reid, said that Jason Peters was the best tackle in the NFL.
Jason Peters would go on to start 140 games for Philadelphia, a 9x Pro Bowler, 2x First-Team All-Pro. Peters has been one of the top left tackles in NFL for the past ten years. Per Pro Football Reference, Peters has only amassed 77 Total Penalties in his time with Philly. Only 11 of those 77 penalties have been for holding, with 51 false starts to go along with it. Thinking about it, only committing 11 holding Penalties in 8,722 regular season snaps is mind-blowing. Peters has been everything the Eagles thought he’d be, and then some. However, all good things have to come to an end. Have we seen Jason Peters last snap with the Philadelphia Eagles?
The Case to Keep Jason Peters
Peters has one of the most crucial tasks in the NFL, protecting the franchise quarterback. Peters very rarely gives up sacks. Per PFF, in 2019, Peters was only credited with giving up three sacks over 872 snaps. In 2018 he only gave up two sacks in 868 snaps, and in 2017, he only gave up one sack in only 423 snaps. He is still playing at an elite level and is still regarded as one of the best in the league. His jump off the snap is second to none, and he can take elite pass-rushers out of the picture for an entire game. That leads to an important question.
Should the Eagles be moving on from a future Hall of Famer without knowing for sure Andre Dillard can play? Protecting Wentz’s blindside is something the Eagles should be taking very seriously, and Peters can still get that job done. The money will always drive moves in the NFL. Would Peters take a team-friendly deal to return to the Eagles? After the loss to Seattle in the playoffs, Peters said, “I want to be here, that’s all I know. But the nature of this business, sometimes they move on.” While Peters has made his intentions clear, the Eagles have been decidedly mum on their plans.
The Case to Move On
Jason Peters is 37, turning 38 on January 22nd. Howie Roseman has been brutally honest that the Eagles need to “infuse youth into this team.” While Peters can still get the job done, the Eagles may not need him anymore. In last year’s draft, the Eagles used a first-round pick on Andre Dillard, with intentions to have him be the starter in the near future. Dillard was raw in his first year, playing only 336 snaps while giving up four sacks and committing one penalty. He played 72% of the snaps in week six but gave up an NFL weekly high of nine pressures against the Vikings.
His play did improve the following week against Dallas, giving up one sack while overall holding his own against Robert Quinn. Dillard had his ups and downs throughout the season. He was benched week 12 against Seattle after Philadelphia asked him to fill in for an injured Lane Johnson at right tackle. While still raw, I think it’s important for Philadelphia to get Dillard meaningful snaps early and often going into the 2020 Season. Dillard is not a bust; his talent and athleticism are evident to the eye. Keeping Jason Peters to start another year could significantly alter Dillard’s progression. Peters resigning would imply that the Eagles made a mistake taking Dillard in the first round of last year’s draft.
There is never a good time for a breakup; however, now is as good a time as ever. Jason Peters is a likely Hall of Famer. He was one of the best to do it. We will forever be thankful for what he has given to this franchise. His hard work, sheer dedication to the craft, and overall leadership will be missed. That being said, Andre Dillard should be our left tackle moving forward. We’ve seen the glimpses of what Dillard can be, and that’s enough for me to move in this direction. Regardless of Peters taking a team-friendly deal, I think it’s time to move on. This decision is not an easy one, but Peters himself acknowledged, “sometimes they move on.” Now should be one of those “sometimes.”