As the Eagles began preparing for their season-opening game Sunday at Washington, the craziest thing happened. Coach Doug Pederson was just sitting in his office early Monday, probably puzzling over whether the franchise had ever taken on an opponent that lacked a nickname, and in walked none other than Jason Peters.
“Jason Peters came into my office this morning, and he has decided to slide over to left tackle. This is the unselfishness. This is who he is,” Pederson told reporters in a Monday afternoon Zoom call. “He did an outstanding job for us at right guard. It was valuable experience for him to play over there on the right side, and get some interior work, but as he looks at not only where we are but where he is, he came in today and he was excited to move to left tackle and so I can announce that. I’m thrilled to death.”
In case you’re joining us late, The Inquirer reported that when Andre Dillard went down with a season-ending biceps tear on Aug. 27, Peters told the Eagles that if he was going to go back to protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside, he wanted more than the $3 million, one-year deal he signed in June to play right guard.
Peters, 38, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, became a free agent in the offseason because the Eagles wanted Dillard to take over at left tackle, a year after they made Dillard their first-round draft pick. Peters came back when All-Pro right guard Brandon Brooks tore his left Achilles in June.
Pederson and the Eagles have not acknowledged the Peters contract request. Until Monday, the official line was that Peters was settling in at right guard and the coaching staff wanted to keep him there, while exploring other left-tackle options. This was a hard sell, and Pederson seemed happy to be able to abandon the effort. He said that Peters’ move “really kind of solidifies that left side for us.”
Peters’ miraculous change of heart Monday was not triggered by a raise, league sources said, but it does seem quite possible there will be some sort of contract adjustment, if only to increase incentives.
“I’m excited about that, for him and for this team,” Wentz said, when asked about Peters’ move. “I’ve had J.P. back there blocking my blindside pretty much every year. Obviously, he’s missed a few games with injuries and stuff over the years, but he’s been the guy. ... We call him ‘The Bodyguard’ for a reason.”
This is a pretty important move, not the sort of thing a team would be likely to leave to the possibility that when game week arrived, Peters would just change his mind and seek out his coach, but that was the official narrative.
“He knocked, and it’s a big man walking through my door, and I was happy to see Jason Peters,” Pederson said. “I was just thrilled to death to hear the news. I’m not going to get into the contract stuff; that’s not my area. … I couldn’t have been happier, not only for him, but for our team. … I gave him a hug and said, ‘Let’s go.’
“I had not expected this. We continued to talk to Jason and all that, but we were comfortable with him at right guard. We had made plans to move forward and get ready for the season that way. It’s one of those pleasant surprises that we all kind of hoped would come true.”
Peters was not available to reporters.
Pederson indicated that Matt Pryor, the backup who moved to left tackle after Dillard went down, will compete with Nate Herbig and maybe rookie Jack Driscoll at right guard.
Pederson said free agent Cordy Glenn, seen as a possible starter at left tackle, performed well in his weekend tryout. The Eagles still might sign Glenn, given the lack of experience of their O-line backups.
Wentz now knows he won’t face the daunting Washington defensive front with the left-tackle position manned by Pryor, whose entire NFL offensive-line experience consists of one regular-season game and one playoff game, both played at right guard.
Wentz said he “knew at the end of the day, Jason and the coaches, everyone, would put guys in the right position for this team to succeed. I found out this morning about it, and I can tell Jason, he’s ready to go. He’s excited about it, and so am I. ... These younger guys will still get their opportunities, in different positions, without a doubt ... but I’m excited that it’s ’old 7-1′ back there.”