The Eagles have landed a giant.
In search of a left tackle to replace Tra Thomas, the team invested three draft picks and an enormous amount of cash to acquire Jason Peters from the Buffalo Bills yesterday.
The deal was not completed until the Eagles negotiated a new contract with Peters' agent, Eugene Parker, last night at the NovaCare Complex. One NFL source said the sides agreed on a contract similar to the six-year, $55 million deal that Carolina offensive tackle Jordan Gross signed earlier this off-season.
In exchange for Peters, the Eagles gave Buffalo the 28th pick in the first round and their fourth-round selection (121st overall) in next weekend's draft. The Bills also will get a sixth-round pick in 2010. The Eagles still have the 21st pick in the first round of this year's draft.
Peters is scheduled to meet with reporters tomorrow.
"Jason Peters is the best left tackle in football," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "He is a powerful and athletic tackle, and I have admired his play over the last few years on film. I have always believed that success in the NFL is derived from the strong play of the offensive and defensive lines. This off-season we have added two young, top-flight offensive linemen in Jason and Stacy Andrews."
A league scout offered a less flattering portrayal of Peters.
"He has the tools, and there are times that he looks like a Pro Bowl tackle," the scout said. "I just don't see it all the time."
Draft-day trades last year that sent Carolina a first-round pick and Minnesota a second-round pick acquired from the Panthers allowed the Eagles to make the deal for Peters and draft defensive tackle Trevor Laws, safety Quintin Demps and guard Mike McGlynn.
The Panthers used the first-round pick they got from the Eagles last year to draft Jeff Otah, who was their starting left tackle last season.
Peters' addition provides a picture of how the offensive line will look in two weeks when the team lines up for its first off-season camp at the NovaCare Complex.
Stacy Andrews will be at right tackle. His younger brother, Shawn Andrews, will be at right guard, with Peters at left tackle and Todd Herremans at left guard. Jamaal Jackson likely will remain the center, but coach Andy Reid said Nick Cole would compete for that position.
Though general manager Tom Heckert said Tuesday that the Eagles had not ruled out bringing back veteran free agent Jon Runyan, that idea appears to be dead.
Peters, 27, was not the most popular player in Buffalo last season after staging a holdout from the start of training camp until a day before the start of the season. He also did not participate in the team's mandatory off-season camp.
He was fined nearly $600,000 by the Bills, and he did not dress but was paid for the team's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
The scout, who saw Peters play quite a bit last season, said the contract dispute and lengthy holdout affected his play. Peters allowed 111/2 sacks, more than any other left tackle in the NFL. He also missed the team's last two games with a knee injury.
"I know early on he wasn't as sharp as he was the year before," the scout said. "It took a little while for him to get his legs back under him. I'm sure the contract had to be a distraction. I'm sure the Eagles are hoping a new contract will make him happy and productive again.
"With the 21st and 28th picks, I don't think the Eagles liked what they could get there as far as tackles, so this made sense from that standpoint. They also had the cap room to do it, so that made sense, too."
Shawn Andrews was Peters' teammate at the University of Arkansas. Andrews played right tackle, but Peters was not the left tackle. He was a supersize tight end for the Razorbacks. He caught 21 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns in his final season at Arkansas and finished his career with 28 catches for 300 yards.
The Bills signed Peters as an undrafted rookie in 2004, and he remained a tight end as a rookie, but Buffalo offensive line coach Jim McNally wanted to transform him into a left tackle. By 2005, that transformation had taken place. A year later, he was one of the more highly regarded left tackles in the league.
"I'd be a little bit leery," the scout said. "He has made the Pro Bowl the last two years, but personally I didn't think he played at a Pro Bowl level, especially last year. Two years ago, he played at a solid starting level."