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Jason Peters: An Eagles G.O.A.T.

Posted Dec 21, 2016

It was time to rebuild after an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2008, and nowhere did the Eagles need more help than along the offensive line. Tra Thomas, the 10-year starter at left tackle, left the Eagles in free agency to sign with Jacksonville. Right tackle Jon Runyan was recovering from knee surgery. The Eagles needed to get it right ...

It was time to rebuild after an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2008, and nowhere did the Eagles need more help than along the offensive line. Tra Thomas, the 10-year starter at left tackle, left the Eagles in free agency to sign with Jacksonville. Right tackle Jon Runyan was recovering from knee surgery.

The Eagles needed to get it right.

So they entered free agency in the spring of 2009 intent on doing just that, even if the moves came at a considerable cost. They acted first in free agency, signing Stacy Andrews – the brother of right guard Shawn – from the Cincinnati Bengals. And then in April, just five days prior to that year’s draft, the Eagles struck a deal with Buffalo to acquire disgruntled left tackle Jason Peters, a converted tight end who had been to two Pro Bowls with the Bills and who wanted to be paid as one of the best at his position in the NFL.

The price the Eagles paid to bring Peters to Philadelphia was hefty: The Eagles dealt a first-round draft pick in 2009 (No. 28 overall), a fourth-round pick (No. 121 overall) and a 2010 sixth-round draft pick to Buffalo for Peters, whom they immediately signed to a six-year contract.

It was one of the best investments the Eagles have ever made.

Buffalo eventually used those draft picks to select offensive lineman Eric Wood, tight end Shawn Nelson and defensive end Danny Batten. Wood remains with the Bills in his eighth NFL season and in 2015 was voted to his first Pro Bowl. He is on Injured Reserve now with a broken leg. Nelson played for two seasons in Buffalo, 17 games total, and caught 20 passes in his NFL career. Batten played for Buffalo from 2010-12 and made 24 career tackles.

"Jason Peters is the best left tackle in football," Eagles coach Andy Reid said at the time. "He is a powerful and athletic tackle, and I have admired his play over the last few years on film. I have always believed that success in the National Football League is derived from the strong play of the offensive and defensive lines. This offseason we have added two young, top-flight offensive linemen in Jason and Stacy Andrews.”

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OK, so the Eagles got one of the two correct. Andrews was a bust who never panned out for this team. Peters is still going strong and was just named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl team for the seventh time as an Eagle and the ninth time in his NFL career. Only Chuck Bednarik (8) has more Pro Bowls as an Eagle. Peters, Reggie White and Brian Dawkins have seven.

Remarkable. It’s a reminder of just where Peters ranks: As the greatest Eagles left tackle of all time.

Now, there are those who say it was Bob Brown, who played for the Eagles from 1964-68 and was named an All-Pro in each of those five seasons, along with three Pro Bowl nominations. Brown was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with being a member of the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. No doubt, a great player. An imposing figure. A dominating presence at left tackle.

But Peters gets the nod for his longevity and for the way he has adopted to the game, kept his body young and handled the variety of blitzes and schemes defenses have used over the years. His story is as remarkable as it gets in the NFL: A tight end at Arkansas who caught 28 passes and scored four touchdowns in 36 collegiate games, Peters was not drafted in 2004. He signed with Buffalo as a rookie free agent and played both tight end and right tackle in his first year. Three seasons later, Peters made his first Pro Bowl.

At left tackle.

Amazing.

So here he is, preparing for a Thursday night tussle against the New York Giants. Peters has played 970 of the offense’s 1,001 snaps this season and he’s still playing, clearly, at a very high level. The Eagles want to keep him and rely on him and ride him for another season, at the very least.

“I think he's very capable of another couple of seasons. He's really done a great job with the health standpoint, his weight and managing all that,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think Stout's (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) done a good job with him, monitoring him in practice and not taking the full complement of reps throughout the week. He's one of those guys. I mean, I can go back to some of the conversations we had way back in the spring and how do you manage a Jason Peters, and I feel like we've done that extremely well this season. He feels fresh; he feels healthy.

“Again, a Pro Bowl season. So, I'm excited for him and I really do look forward to working with him in the future. ... I love him. I want him on the team. I don't want him to go anywhere. I want him to be an Eagle for the rest of his career.”

Someday Peters will hear his name called for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s certainly a shoo-in to be selected into the franchise’s Hall of Fame. For now, Peters keeps doing his thing and we need to pause and recognize and appreciate the greatness. Not many like Peters come around. He’s been a marvel to watch, with more to enjoy.

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