When Doug Pederson was asked Saturday morning if Jason Peters would move back to left tackle after Andre Dillard’s injury, the coach would say only that the Eagles’ current right guard was “in the conversation” to protect quarterback Carson Wentz’s blindside.
Which seemed odd since few teams have the luxury of having a future Hall of Famer left tackle as a backup.
But there’s an explanation other than the one Pederson gave about looking at some of the younger, more inexperienced options on the Eagles: Peters wants to be paid like a starting left tackle if he’s to assume the role for the 2020 season, NFL sources said.
Peters, 38, signed a one-year, $3 million contract to play right guard last month after starter Brandon Brooks suffered an Achilles tendon injury in June. Guards make significantly less than tackles, especially on the left flank.
Peters’ agent, Vincent Taylor, didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Eagles, who held practice indoors Saturday, had no comment.
“Jason Peters is obviously in the conversation,” Pederson said during a video conference call with reporters. “We do have some young players, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor. Jack Driscoll, who’s a [fourth-round] rookie, obviously, but has been playing some tackle for us.”
Of the three, only Pryor has played in an NFL game but only sparingly at guard. Pryor was the first-team left tackle during practice Saturday, while Peters remained at right guard, per a pool report.
The Eagles have a little over two weeks until their Sept. 13 season opener at Washington, so they have time to see if any of the younger candidates for left tackle or different combinations can work. But with no preseason, it’s unlikely they want to take that chance.
Dillard, the Eagles’ 2019 top draft pick, suffered a torn biceps during practice Thursday. Pederson confirmed that he will be placed on injured reserve, and that his season is likely over.
There had been internal concern that Dillard wouldn’t be able to hold down the job and that Peters would have to be called upon early in the season.
Peters has taken to the right guard spot. But if the Eagles want to bump him out to left tackle, where he played for most of his previous 16 seasons, the last 11 in Philadelphia, he wants to be compensated.
It could take some tinkering to Peters’ deal to get him to move. His base salary is $1.8 million. The contract includes a $1 million signing bonus and a per-game roster bonus worth up to $200,000. Peters could earn up to $6 million if certain incentives -- none of which account for a possible move to tackle -- are reached.
The incentive breakdown is as follows, according to NFL Network: $400,000 for 75% playing time; $500,000 for 85% playing time; $350,000 for 75% playing time and a Super Bowl victory; $1 million for 90% playing time and first-team All-Pro; $500,000 for the Pro Bowl; and $250,000 for the Pro Bowl and playoffs.
The Eagles could guarantee more of Peters’ contract to account for the move without giving him more new money. Or they could meet his demands and pay him more.
“J.P.’s done an outstanding job, coming in and playing the right guard spot,” Pederson said. “We’re going to continue to look at him there as well. But we have some options. We’ve got a couple of days here before roster cuts and getting into the regular season.”
Pryor mostly played guard in his first two NFL seasons. He stepped in for Brooks late last season after the Pro Bowl right guard suffered a shoulder injury against the New York Giants in the final game of the regular season. Pryor started in the Eagles’ first-round playoff loss to the Seahawks and fared well.
But the Eagles have worked Pryor almost exclusively at tackle this camp. He played both spots in college, and in his senior year at TCU started eight games at right guard and six games at right tackle.
Pryor said he wasn’t surprised to see the Eagles go with him over Peters -- for now.
“Whatever business they got going, on that’s between them,” Pryor said. “Me -- whatever opportunity I get I’m about to take, just take advantage of what I get.”