Peters seeks to strike gold after Pro Bowl season (Photo Source)
After not-so-inconspicuously missing the first three days of the Buffalo Bills' first 2008 OTAs, the Buffalo News is reporting that Bills offensive tackle Jason Peters - elected to his first Pro Bowl in 2007 - is seeking a new deal from the Bills. Peters now joins a growing contingent of young Bills players looking for big paydays - a list that already includes WR Lee Evans and LB Angelo Crowell.
Our very own sireric correctly predicted this would happen back in February, so be sure to check out his clairvoyant writings before proceeding here. Peters - scheduled to make $2.2 million in 2008 as part of a 5-year, $15 million extension he signed in 2006 - is a classic NFL rags-to-riches story: the former undrafted free agent tight end made a position switch (twice) in Buffalo and has worked his way into becoming one of the NFL's elite young offensive line talents. At age 26, Peters is just now entering the prime of his career and should serve as the anchor of Buffalo's offensive line for the next decade - if, of course, the Bills honor his wish for a new deal.
What kind of a deal may Peters be looking for? Let's crunch the contract numbers, considering both the "elite" names at Peters' left tackle position, as well as the salaries of some of the more recent high-profile left tackle signings.
In 2004, Baltimore's Jonathan Ogden broke the bank with a deal that still looks big despite the rapidly escalating salary cap, and was monumental in '04 - 7 years, $50 million with $20 million guaranteed (most of which were paid to Ogden in the '04 and '05 seasons). That deal served as the benchmark for three deals signed by offensive tackles in 2005 - and if you're a fan of the NFL, you've heard the names:
Walter Jones (SEA): 7 years, $52.5 million, $15 million signing bonus
Orlando Pace (STL): 7 years, $52.9 million, $15 million signing bonus
Chris Samuels (WAS): 7 years, $46 million, $15.75 million signing bonus
Ogden, Jones, Pace and Samuels have been the elite names at the left tackle position for a number of years now, but they're not the best-paid players at their position. Believe it or not (and it's not that hard to believe), that distinction belongs to three players that have a combined two years of NFL experience between them. Those players, and their contracts, are:
Joe Thomas (CLE): 5 years, $42.5 million, $23 million guaranteed
Levi Brown (ARI): 6 years, $62 million, $18.1 million guaranteed
Jake Long (MIA): 5 years, $57.5 million, $30 million guaranteed
Surely Peters - a self-made Pro Bowl player with more than two years of starting experience - deserves a better contract than those three guys. Right? You can bet that's the argument that Peters' agent is planning on making.
One thing is clear: if there's one Buffalo Bill who deserves to be considered among the NFL's elite at his position - and paid accordingly - it's Jason Peters. He's already there. Lee Evans may eventually get there, but he's certainly not there yet. Peters is a top-notch performer, a great success story, and has proven to be both durable and a team player during his short, excellent career with the Bills. Pay the man, Buffalo. Keep him happy - this guy has "franchise cornerstone" written all over him.
As a final point - and I'm leaving it up to y'all to expand on this in the comments section - there has not been any indication (yet) that Peters is holding out or plans to hold out. These are voluntary OTAs, and Peters has skipped them to make his point. Only time will tell whether or not Peters is serious about getting this new deal done ASAP - if he skips training camp, the Bills have problems. Sign the man.