Update: The Eagles announced Wednesday morning that Jason Peters has signed a contract extension through 2019.
Jason Peters wants to go out on his own terms. Who could blame him?
Hence the mixed messages the Eagles tackle gave about his future Tuesday. When asked about possible retirement, Peters said that he's approaching the inevitable "one year at a time." But the 35-year-old is also clearly thinking beyond 2017.
"I want to retire here," Peters said after the first day of mandatory minicamp. "I don't want to be year-to-year, [wondering] if they're going to release me or are they going to do this, taking pay cuts and all that. I just want to make sure I've got the reassurance that I'm going to retire here."
Read: Hey, Eagles, restructure my contract so I have guarantees that I'm here at least next year if I choose to return.
Peters is signed through 2018, but the remaining $10 million in the final year isn't guaranteed. In January, the salary-cap- strapped Eagles approached Peters about a restructured deal that would have cut his salary. But the team would have likely given the nine-time Pro Bowler something - more guaranteed money perhaps - in return.
Peters said thanks but no thanks.
"It's business," he said when asked if the request bothered him.
Peters was still valuable enough to have leverage in that standoff. But what if the Eagles aren't open to reworking his deal and approach him about a trim next offseason? He intimated that one of the reasons he stayed away from organized team activities was because his contract situation wasn't resolved. But he also seemed to indicate that a new deal was in the works.
"I'll know something soon," Peters said.
The Eagles have been down this path before and rarely do even iconic players get to call all the shots on their retirement. Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, and Brian Westbrook, for example, spent their final years playing for other teams.
Potentially complicating matters is that the Eagles have Peters' apparent heir - Lane Johnson - on the roster. And Johnson's salary is already escalating to account for his expected move from right to left tackle. He's set to earn $7.75 million with a $9,843,750 cap number this year.
"I'm just biding my time," Johnson said. "I guess it will come when it comes."
Johnson is slated to make $10 million with a $12.25 million cap number in 2018. Can the Eagles afford to pay both Johnson and Peters like left tackles for another year?
"It's going to come to a head, I just don't know when," Johnson said. "It's just kind of a waiting game."
The 27-year-old Johnson, despite his vast talent, hasn't exactly secured his future with the Eagles. Not a penny of the remaining $37 million on his deal is guaranteed after he tested positive for a banned substance for the second time last offseason. One more transgression and Johnson could find himself out of the NFL, let alone off the Eagles.
But the Eagles still clearly see the former first-rounder as next in line. Johnson took all the left- tackle repetitions during OTAs and was back in that spot Tuesday with the team slow-playing Peters' immersion back into the offense.
"That's my guy. I'm going to help him," Peters said of Johnson. "At some point, you're going to have to leave and hand the baton off."
But if Johnson were Michael Corleone to Peters' Hyman Roth, it could require some force to pry the baton from the possible future Hall of Famer. And if Peters is to play as well as he did in 2016, would the Eagles even want to push fast forward on the succession plan?
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland told reporters Monday that he thought Peters, who played in all 16 games, had his best year since 2013.
"I didn't give up too much," Peters said.
He has become more of a crafty tackle than the physically dominating one who was arguably the best in the NFL from 2010 to 14. Coach Doug Pederson rested Peters throughout training camp and the season, and the respites seemed to benefit the 6-foot-4, 328-pound tackle.
There was little reason for Peters to trek up from Texas for OTAs, and the Eagles still plan on limiting his participation through this year.
"He's the least of my worries. He really is," Pederson said Tuesday. "He's going to get himself ready to go mentally and physically."
Johnson said that Peters could be pulled from games when the outcome has been decided more often this season. Peters, when asked about a possible move to guard should he want to play more than one more year, said that he would be open to the idea.
"If I felt like I was getting beat too much, I'd just move inside," Peters said. "Whatever I can do to help the team."
For now, the Eagles believe that he helps them best at one of the most important positions. Peters has played 13 seasons and has yet to taste a playoff victory. He has beaten the drum in favor of quarterback Carson Wentz and endorsed the offensive additions this offseason. But will it be enough for the Eagles to contend for the postseason?
"I think so," Peters said. "Ten-plus wins. I watched it today - Carson throwing it, receivers catching it, running backs cutting. And the offensive line, we're going to take care of our business."
Success could be the ultimate motivating factor for Peters to want to play beyond 2017.