Peters' camp holdout reaches Day 10 (Photo Source)
That is the question the Buffalo Bills have to ask themselves; or more specifically, "What if Jason Peters doesn't play this year...or longer?"
We can debate all day about what is going on with Jason Peters. He could be simply holding out for more money, he might not want to cut his vacation short, maybe he has grown to hate training camp and feels that the fines are worth it not to attend, maybe he has lost his desire to play football. At this point the only thing that is obvious is that nobody has any idea where he is or why he isn't at camp.
So what does Buffalo do moving forward, armed with what little they know about Peters' situation?
The 2008 Season
The Bills can't replace Peters on the roster this year, and nobody like him will be available before the season starts. They can, however, reshuffle the line to make up for his absence. Moving Brad Butler outside to RT (his position in college) and going with Jason Whittle, Christian Gaddis or even (gulp) Duke Preston at RG is one option. Brian mentioned Friday that he thinks current RT Kirk Chambers could be a surprise cut, and showed several reasons as to why he thinks that way (specifically, the increased reps of Matt Murphy and Demetrius Bell). Could it be however, that the Bills are preparing themselves for Peters' potential absence?
None of these options are anywhere near as attractive as Peters showing up and playing, but the fact is that those are the options that the Bills will have to deal with because All Pro left tackles aren't just available, especially this time of year. There will be some players that become available before the season starts, guys who would be upgrades to players like Chambers or Murphy, but none are going to be comparable to Peters. I guess what I'm trying to say is that that Bills can't replace Peters this year, they can only try to mask his absence.
At this point the Bills are forced to assume Peters *might* not play this year, which is why they are trying out players at different positions. If Peters does indeed sit out the 2008 season it is a safe bet he could never play again, at least for the Bills. If that were to be the case obviously the Bills will need to find his replacement, because let's face it - names like Chambers, Whittle, Walker, and Murphy are not long term answers. Come draft time you will hear names like Ole Miss LT Micheal Oher, Alabama LT Andre Smith, Virginia LT Eugene Monroe, and LSU LT Ciron Black.
I'm finding it more and more difficult to believe that all of this is purely about money. If it was, I would think that Peters would be more out in the open, and be more vocal about wanting a new contract. The fact that nobody has heard from him, to me, says that something else could be at the heart of the matter. It's time we talk about the long-term ramifications of his absence. Maybe this is being a little too extreme - there is, after all, still plenty of time for Peters to show up and get his game regular-season ready - but maybe it's not. The odds say it is, but never say never. You can bet the Bills' front office executives are having these thoughts, even if they're only in the backs of their minds.
Maybe Marshall Faulk is a lot smarter then we've all given him cedit for.