Peters continues his contractual holdout (Photo Source)
The Buffalo Bills' three-day mandatory mini camp began Wednesday with their best offensive player purposely missing the action.
Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who earlier this month missed voluntary workouts in a not-so-subtle attempt to prove his displeasure over his contract, has now extended his holdout to the team's mandatory workouts. For his actions, Peters will be fined for each day he misses mini-camp practices; the left tackle could be out $8,638 by week's end.
Peters is dissatisfied with a five-year, $20.1 million deal he signed in 2006, a mere half a season after Peters broke into the starting lineup as the team's right tackle. Scheduled to make $3.25 million in 2008, Peters is attempting to leverage his 2007 Pro Bowl berth into a contract that will make him the highest-paid lineman in Buffalo. Currently, left guard Derrick Dockery and right tackle Langston Walker - both signed to lucrative deals last off-season - make more than Peters.
Said head coach Dick Jauron:
"Jason is not here so he will be fined. I am surprised by it. I thought Jason would be at our mandatory minicamp, but it's a decision he's made and he'll be fined."
In Peters' absence, newly promoted offensive coordinator Turk Schonert may be prepared to make drastic moves to replace his best lineman. That preparation may include giving the 6'8", 366-pound Walker reps on QB Trent Edwards' blind side. Walker has never played the position at the NFL level, but Schonert confirmed that playing Walker at LT is a serious consideration at this point:
“We’ve got to be prepared like [Peters is] not going to be here, and that’s the way we’re going to operate in training camp. Hopefully, we’ll see him soon, sooner rather than later, but we’ve got to plan like he’s not here, because he’s not.”
The messy gets messier in Buffalo. If push comes to shove - and it just might - the Bills have to pay the man. Without Peters, Buffalo's offense goes from mediocre to pitiful, especially if RB Marshawn Lynch misses any time. At some point, the team needs to take measures to keep its best players on the field - especially offensively. Trent Edwards isn't going to do any growing if his RB is suspended and his LT is voluntarily sacrificing paychecks, after all.