The very first question the Eagles have to ask themselves as they consider what they’re going to do about replacing injured All Pro left tackle Jason Peters is this:
Do they need a short-term solution or a long-term one?
Before he ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier this week, Jason Peters was the best left tackle in football.
"If anyone doesn’t think (he’s the best), I would categorically ask them to give me one who is as good," Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd said in December. "I didn’t say better. I said as good. That puts him in a rarified place. The only other guy I’ve coached who’s like him is Walter (Jones). That’s it."
A ruptured Achilles tendon isn’t a career-ending injury. Athletes come back from it, some faster than others depending on the sport and the position they play.
It’s possible, though not probable, that Peters might be able to get back on the field late in the season. I don’t see it, but who am I to say it can’t be done. The Eagles certainly can’t count on it, though. They’ve got to assume they will be without him for the entire 2012 season.
But they also need to beyond 2012. Peters definitely will be back for the 2013 season. But he’ll be 31, with two years left on his contract, and it’s impossible to say whether he’ll be the same dominant player he was before this week’s injury.
Many players have come back as good as new from this injury, but many players aren’t 330-pound left tackles with running-back-type athleticism. Will he be able to move as well? Will he have the same explosiveness? DeMeco Ryans, the middle linebacker the Eagles acquired from Houston two weeks ago, ruptured his Achilles in 2010. He returned last season, but wasn’t the same player he was before the injury.
So, the Eagles need to figure out how to proceed. Should they bring in someone who not only can step in for Peters, but could be their long-term left tackle if Peters doesn’t come back All-Pro whole? Or should they just look for a short-term fix for 2012 and gamble that Peters will make a complete recovery by the start of the ’13 season?
You’ve already read most of the offensive tackle options, both in free agency and the draft. Ironically, the Eagles were determined to go into this draft and focus on selecting the best players on their board, regardless of position. Now, they may be forced to again drafting for need with their first-round pick, the 15th overall.
"When you look back at the moves we’ve made successfully, it was situations where we took the best players (regardless of position)," Roseman said earlier this week. "But because we’ve been so close and because we think we have a good team and because we think we’re close to getting over the hump, we feel if we could just get this (position addressed), that would complete our team.
"If you look around the league, even a team that wins the Super Bowl is going to have some areas that aren’t necessarily positions of strength. As long as they’re not a huge weakness, you can live with that."