Another messy holdout is good for no one.
The Bills need security at the most important position in football. Jason Peters needs a new contract. Let's roll.
Of course, it's not this simple. Peters is reportedly asking for an astronomical contract that'd make him the highest-paid lineman in the league – bold for a sieve who just gave up more sacks than any other left tackle in the NFL. Gosh, that's like Maxim Afinogenov banging on Darcy Regier's door for a raise. The nerve.
Then again, what are Buffalo's other options? Kirk Chambers is best suited supplanting Derrick Dockery at guard and Langston Walker was shaky in place of Peters on the blind side. The Bills don't have a ton of leverage.
Which makes a trade more realistic by the day.
Peters, after two straight Pro Bowls, is certainly in high demand. Shielding the quarterback's blind side remains every general manager's daily concern. And for most of his career, Peters has flashed limitless potential. A former tight end at Arkansas, Peters is quick enough to safely coast blazing-fast defensive ends into no-man's land, yet still packing a mean punch in the ground game at 340 pounds. Maybe last year was just an out-of-shape hiccup for Peters.
When prodded about the possibility of trading Peters at the AFC media breakfast, head coach Dick Jauron didn't exactly gun down the possibility of a trade.
"I don't know about that," he said. "He's an awfully good player at left tackle. He was voted to the Pro Bowl the last two years and he's a very unique player, a very unique athlete. He's a giant man."
Several suitors are available. Contenders in the bottom half of first round could be interested. With a top-heavy group of offensive tackles expected to go fast, some playoff-caliber clubs could make a pitch for Peters. The inflated salary cap ensures that most teams have the ammo to meet Peters demand – something Buffalo is reluctant to do with glaring needs at several other positions.
The best fit? Philadelphia, with just under $40 million in cap space.
The Eagles lost Tra Thomas to Jacksonville in free agency and are expected to let Jon Runyan, brittle knees ‘n all, to walk also. At the owners' meeting, Andy Reid left the tackle position open for rampant speculation saying, "I'm just juggling that around and seeing how everything lays out between the rest of free agency and the draft. We'll see what happens."
After robbing Carolina of a first-round pick last April, Philadelphia owns the 21st and 28th overall picks this year. If Peters is unwilling to lower his bizarre demand, the Bills should unload the headache to Philadelphia. Picking up one of these first-round picks and a third- or fourth-rounder for Peters is smart for both sides.
The Eagles – a serious Super Bowl contention – do not want to risk boasting a rookie or Stacey Andrews (who tore his left ACL late last season) at left tackle. And time's running out. Donovan McNabb is an ACL away from retirement, still-spry Brian Westbrook can virtually see the sun setting on his career and the defense is peaking. In a wide-open NFC, Philadelphia is one stable left tackle away from being a surefire contender. Not a blubbering Andre Smith.
The Bills – with holes galore – could desperately use extra picks to replenish young talent into the team. One bizarre T.O. signing aside, the Bills have cultivated some promising young talent over the past couple seasons. With three of the top 42 picks in this year's draft, the Bills could continue this progress. Defensive end Aaron Maybin, offensive tackle Eben Britton and tight end Jared Cook give Buffalo three core players to build around at three positions of need.
Maybe Britton doesn't automatically succeed Peters, but such a trade is ultra-healthy for the franchise in the long run. Another Peters holdout would gouge at the team's chemistry. And overpaying for his services would stunt the team's growth.
Yup. Signing Peters to the richest deal ever for a lineman would be almost as crazy as signing the biggest egomaniac in the history of sports.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on Peters, check out the BFR's appearance on Arkansas' "Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly" at this link.