Jason Peters told an NFL Network audience Thursday that “nothing really went wrong” with former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz last season — “he was just in Philadelphia.”
The Eagles’ nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle, soon to be a free agent at age 39, also said he wants to play an 18th NFL season. He had acknowledged in an earlier interview that it probably won’t be with the rebuilding Eagles.
Asked about the trade of Wentz to Indianapolis, coached by former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, Peters said: “I was surprised, but I wasn’t, like, super-surprised because when they benched him and put Jalen [Hurts] in, things went left. And I always encouraged him and told him, ‘Keep working; everything happens for a reason,’ and, like I said, I wasn’t crazy surprised when it happened, but any team that was gonna pick him up, I knew it was gonna be Frank Reich ‘cause when he was there, Frank had him running smooth. Super Bowl run, we went and got the trophy, and that was my deal on that.
“Carson is a great player. Nothing really went wrong on that. He was just in Philadelphia. It’s a hard city to play for, man. They’re critical of every play, inch, foot, year. You gotta bring it every year or Philadelphia will eat you up, man.”
Peters was complimentary toward Hurts.
“His leadership and his swagger” stood out, Peters said. “He comes to the huddle; he demands your eyes, your ears. He’s definitely ahead of his time as far as his leadership and his swagger.”
Wentz was traded after making it clear to Eagles management that he would like to move on, sources have said. His 2020 season was one of the worst regressions on record for an established quarterback. Peters, too suffered through his worst season; the team seemed ready to move on from him a year ago, then brought him back after right guard Brandon Brooks suffered an Achilles tear last June. When Andre Dillard went down with a biceps tear in training camp, Peters demanded more money to switch from right guard back to left tackle, leaving a bad impression with many fans.
That impression didn’t improve when Peters was healthy for only eight games, compiling a career-low 67.6 Pro Football Focus overall grade. PFF held Peters responsible for eight sacks; Wentz was sacked an NFL-high 50 times, despite playing in only 12 games.
Asked if he felt he had a lot left in his tank, Peters said: “I don’t know about ‘a whole lot,’ but I still got some in the tank, and I can definitely show some of the young guys how to play the game of football. You can know the X’s and O’s, but I’m gonna be the one to stay with ‘em after practice and show ‘em how to really play the game, the technique, and the things about the detail of the football game throughout the course of the season.”
It’s unclear whether a team will value that knowledge enough to bring Peters aboard. He played the last 12 seasons with the Eagles and was wearing an Eagles hoodie in his TV appearance Thursday.
Assuming Peters won’t be an Eagle this season, the longest-tenured player on the team would be 2010 first-round draft pick Brandon Graham, who will turn 33 on April 3. Graham made his first Pro Bowl last season, but with the rebuilding focus, there has been speculation about his future. Former NBC Sports reporter Derrick Gunn tweeted earlier this week that the Eagles are working with Graham’s agent on a contract restructuring, presumably moving money into future years to ease the team’s 2021 cap crunch. The Eagles are about $43 million over the projected 2021 salary cap.
Also, the Eagles earlier this week tendered their three exclusive-rights free agents: linebacker Alex Singleton, wide receiver Greg Ward and running back Boston Scott. This means those players can negotiate only with the Eagles as they seek new contracts.