The popular story making the rounds in Buffalo Bills country is the sticky situation unfolding between the team and OT Jason Peters. (Even though many would like you to believe it's WR Terrell Owens skipping voluntary workouts.) Peters is reportedly seeking a contract from the Bills that would make him the NFL's highest-paid tackle. The Bills won't go there, however, and COO Russ Brandon recently discussed the rather large gap that needs to be crossed if a deal is to be reached. He also appears to have laid the groundwork for a potential trade of Peters, easily the hottest topic around these parts over the past few days.
When discussing a potential trade of Peters, the Philadelphia Eagles are the most frequently-cited team as a potential landing spot for our current left tackle. Where do Eagles fans stand on Peters? How receptive are they to the idea of dealing for 71? What might they be willing to part with in exchange for our two-time Pro Bowl player? JasonB of SB Nation's eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation, is the perfect person to ask. Below are his answers to my questions regarding a potential Peters trade (my questions in bold, his answers... not).
How desperate is Philly's need for an OT? I realize that you lost Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, but signed Stacy Andrews. Is there anyone waiting in the wings depth-wise, or is LT an urgent need right now?
The Eagles' general philosophy about the offensive line is to draft college OTs and plug them in wherever needed along the line. Last year, we started with an O-Line comprised of four guys who were OTs in college. Both of the Eagles' starting guards (Pro Bowler Shawn Andrews & USA Today All-Pro Todd Herremans) came into the NFL as tackles. They've even played OT at various times in their career. Both guys are very young and, as Andy Reid has admitted, want to play OT. Reid even said that they bug him about moving to OT "all the time." Reid also said as recently as this year that Shawn Andrews was "the finest OT" he'd ever seen coming out of college. So we've got two talented offensive linemen who played LT in college that appear willing and able to switch from guard to fill that LT spot vacated by Tra Thomas.
Plus, the Eagles have drafted a number of linemen the past few years that they've had playing guard - most notably Mike McGlynn and Max Jean-Gilles, who were both recent fourth round picks. So it does appear that the Eagles have prepared to move one of their starting guards to OT.
So it appears to me that the need for a LT is not terribly urgent. However, the prospect of adding a Pro Bowl LT to the line without having to displace one of the Eagles' Pro Bowl (or near) guards has to be something that intruiges Andy Reid. So while an offensive line with Herremans or Andrews at LT and a young kid at OG would probably do the job, a line with Peters at LT and those two at guard will likely do the job better.
Stacy Andrews got 6 years and $42 million to play right tackle in Philly. Jason Peters would command a pretty serious contract himself. Do you think that Peters would be affordable as an Eagle?
There's two ways to look at this. Can the Eagles afford it? Sure. They've got over $30 million in cap space this year. So they can fit whatever Peters wants under the cap with no problem.
Much more from JasonB on Peters after the jump.
As to whether they think he's worth it... that's another question. I imagine they would struggle with the same things the Bills organization probably is. Despite getting a Pro Bowl berth, Peters didn't have a great year last year. He was out of shape due to missing camp, got hurt, and gave up the most sacks of any LT in football. That doesn't exactly help your cause when you're trying to get a team to make you one of the highest paid OTs in football. So, it's hard to say whether they'd think it was worth it. I do know that Andy Reid values his linemen very highly. He absolutely believes in building his team from the lines out. The word was that if Jordan Gross hit the free agent market this year, the Eagles were ready to back up the Brinks truck for him... So they will spend a ton of money for a lineman, but would they for Peters? I don't know.
In your opinion, how legitimate is the Eagles' reported interest in Peters? Is he a good fit for an Andy Reid offense?
There have been no concrete reports of any interest in Peters on behalf of the Eagles. I've read the rumors, but they've been nothing more than the usual whispers about tons of different players in a given off-season.
I think if he's healthy and at his best, Peters is a good fit in any offense. The way he pass blocked last year he certainly wouldn't fit too well here... but most people seem to think his struggles were a result of his holdout and that he took a long time to get into the flow of the season. I would tend to believe that. So if he was healthy and in camp on time, I would imagine he'd be a perfect fit here.
With a dozen draft picks in hand, the Eagles have some serious trade ammunition. What do you think the Eagles would be willing to part with for Peters?
I would imagine that if the Eagles were indeed interested in Peters, they would be willing to part with one of their first-round picks and maybe something else for him. They've got a bunch of picks in the middle rounds, so one of those picks could certainly be packaged with the first.
I doubt they'd be willing to part with both firsts or a first and another high pick simply because of the added cost of acquiring Peters. Along with the package of picks, they'd need to give him a massive new contract. I suppose ultimately we'd have to know what other teams might offer and whether the Bills could drum up a bidding war for Peters. If I had to guess at an absolute maximum package if the Eagles really loved Peters and thought they really needed him... I'd say a first and third.
Where do you think Peters ranks amongst this year's top OT prospects in the NFL Draft?
If he's healthy, in shape, motivated, and in camp on time I see no reason why he wouldn't be right at the top. If I was at the top of the draft and faced with the choice of picking Eugene Monroe, who hasn't played a down in the NFL, and paying him a ton of money or trading that pick for Peters, who is still young and has proven himself in the NFL, and paying him a truckload... it makes more sense to me to just take Peters.
I've always respected the way the Eagles function in terms of personnel acquisition, and in particular the way they've drafted. I've only ever seen one offensive lineman play poorly for them consistently, and that's Winston Justice. They're a well-coached team that's consistently stocked with talent on the lines. So while the idea of Peters-to-Philly has caught fire, I've remained skeptical that Philadelphia would ultimately end up being the top suitor for Peters.
Don't forget about that Stacy Andrews contract mentioned above. He got $7 million per season; they've also got serious dollars tied up elsewhere, and may even re-work the deal of QB Donovan McNabb. My hunch is that Peters would lower his contract demands were he to be traded to a different team, but that doesn't exactly mean he'd cheap out, either. He's going to get at least $9M or $10M per season, wherever he ends up. That's a serious factor to consider when discussing teams and possible compensation.
Philadelphia certainly has the picks to make a trade happen, and I'll agree with JasonB that the idea of Peters joining the Andrews brothers on that line has got to be enticing to a coach like Andy Reid. The key here is that the Eagles don't have to bring in a tackle, as Jason noted - they probably will, but they probably don't need an instant starter or a guy with a large price tag.
I'm also not convinced that the Eagles would offer more than one first for Peters as Jason suggests, or even a first at all. Any team would be trading not just for Peters, but for a potentially risky salary negotiation as well. If they don't get a first, multiple picks are a virtual certainty, so the Eagles would still have the ammo to pull off a trade for Peters with a second round pick plus another pick before the fourth round. A much more desirable destination, and a team to keep an eye on, however, is Detroit. If the Lions choose to use their top pick on either QB Matthew Stafford or LB Aaron Curry, they've got a couple of picks (#20 and #33) that would look real nice to the Lions fan base if either returned Peters. Detroit's the wild card in this, folks. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Philadelphia is the only suitor - they're not even a suitor yet, and may never be.