In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles swapped three positions in the first round, from selection no. 25 to selection no. 22, costing them the choices of the fourth and sixth rounds in the process, to select the possible successor of Jason Peters in Andre Dillard. It was a very high price to pay for a player who would have played as a rookie only if Peters got hurt. Of course, the easy assumption was that Dillard would be Peters’ replacement for a year, before becoming the full-time appetizer in 2020 and beyond.
Or maybe not?
Peters, now 38, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in this off-season, and would like to return to Philly for the twelfth season as the Eagles’ blind bodyguard on the left tackle. Asked if he wanted Peters to return in 2020, Doug Pederson replied, “Oh yes. Yes. I think I said the same thing about Darren Sproles.”
Pederson actually said the same thing about Sproles ‘last off-season at NFL owners’ meetings. “I’d like to have it,” he said. “I can’t speak for Darren of course. This is his time to make his decisions, but I’d like to have Darren back.”
In 2017, Sproles simultaneously snatched his ACL and broke his arm in the same game, costing him 13 regular season games, plus the Eagles playoff run. In 2018, after going through rehab from that ACL tear, Sproles was “daily” for about three months with a hamstring injury, missing 10 games. And when the Eagles kept Sproles against all logic in 2019, Sproles once again lost 10 games, plus a playoff.
At the owners’ meetings in 2019, Howie Roseman was a little warmer with Sproles.
“Everyone knows how we feel about Darren Sproles, always as a person and a player,” said Roseman. “There aren’t many guys who have gone through this building who have a higher character, better leadership skills and have the ability to go to the Hall of Fame. So I think everyone just needs time to escape and you manage to reconcile them conversations at the right time, and that’s what we’ll do. “
Roseman’s comments on Peters on Tuesday at Indy mirror his comments on Sproles a year ago.
“I think that as far as all our free agents are concerned, it is important that as we go through this process we keep an open mind with everyone and try to understand how to get more information,” he said. “Much of this week is accumulating information, and that’s what we’re going to do here. Obviously, when we talk about Jason Peters, we’re talking about a Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame person, someone who is very special to us and one who played a very high level last year. “
It’s probably important to note that keeping Sproles is a bit different than keeping Peters, as Sproles would never have been anything but a rotational player, while Peters would have definitely kept Dillard off the pitch as long as he remained healthy. True Doug?
“Yes, it’s that simple … It’s JP, or it’s Andre, and these are the decisions we have to make.”
In other words, before asking, no, Peters isn’t moving in to stand guard, nor is he returning to be a backup.
At the January year-end press conference, Roseman said he believed one of his biggest weaknesses was to become attached to players who had been in Philadelphia for a long time. On this front, going to Peters will be his biggest challenge this season. For those who don’t have to be the messenger who tells Peters it’s no longer necessary looks like a no-brainer to turn the reins on Dillard.
… or maybe the Eagles don’t think Dillard is ready.
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