When free agency arrived, the Eagles lost the longtime cornerstones of their offensive line -- left tackle Tra Thomas and right tackle Jon Runyan. In one offseason, the Eagles replaced them with two players in their late-20s and locked them up to long-term contracts.
Stacy Andrews signed as a free agent on the first day players were eligible in late February. Friday, the Eagles acquired All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters in a trade with Buffalo.
" The bottom line is we have a group of good, young players here that we feel can come out and handle the great competition in the NFC East from a defensive line standpoint and in the National Football League,” coach Andy Reid said at Peters' introductory press conference today.
Reid said he had not made any final decisions about the line, where Stacy Andrews, Shawn Andrews and Todd Herremans can all play guard or tackle. Depending on how quickly Stacy recovers from knee surgery (the Eagles believe he will be ready for training camp), it is possible he could at least start out inside at right guard, with Shawn moving to right tackle. Regardless, it could take time for those players to come together.
“I think in training camp we can make it happen. I go back to when Jon Runyan came in and the changes we had with Herremans in there and [C] Jamaal [Jackson] and so on," Reid said. "They just kind of fit in and work it out. It’s good that three of the five have been here and know what they’re doing. I think that it won’t be that difficult for Jason or Stacy to pick the offense up.”
Reid, who called Peters the "best left tackle in football," conceded that he was surprised when Peters became available. Talks heated up Wednesday between the two sides, with offers exchanged. The Eagles made their best offer Thursday, the Bills tweaked it and Peters was in town Friday for a physical. His agent and the Eagles then met later Friday night to get a new contract finalized.
"His play over the last few years has been phenomenal," Reid said. "He’s an All-Pro left tackle in the AFC and a two-time Pro Bowler. We welcome him here to fill the left tackle position for us. We couldn’t be happier to have him be a part of our football team."
For Peters, this is a fresh start after a protracted contract dispute that saw him sit out training camp last season and then not play as well as he had hoped.
“It was difficult sitting out and not being with my team and kind of letting my teammates down, but it was something I had to do. It was difficult,” Peters said of his holdout. “It was a family thing. When I go to a team, that’s my team to play ball. I have to support my family so I felt like I had to do it.”
Asked if the contract situation affected his play, Peters said: “A little bit. I was thinking about it sometimes. If you get beat on a play and you think about your contract. It doesn’t affect me that much. I thought about it some early in the year but later on in the year it wasn’t a big deal.”
Peters was asked to respond to the stat that indicated he gave up 11.5 sacks last year.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard that stat. I don’t recall giving up that many. If they charged me with that many, so what? I’m an Eagle now. If I give up 11.5 sacks, I’m only human. I’m going to give 100% on every play.”
Peters said he was excited to join the Eagles and did not foresee a huge adjustment period.
"It blew my mind, first and foremost, for them to trade me," Peters said. I was happy to come over and be an Eagle.
“It will be an adjustment at first, but I don’t think it will be a hard adjustment. We will get in minicamp, get in OTAs, training camp. We have time to get close before the season starts.”