With Halapoulivaati Vaitai playing impressive football at left tackle, does this mean Jason Peters may be on his way out the door?
On the one hand, you have to be thrilled for your teammates and the city. Against all odds the Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl and for any player that is something pretty special.
But on the other, there has to be a level of disappointment and bitterness there. Because if you’re Jason Peters, you weren’t on the field to help make it a reality.
Peters went down in October with ACL and MCL tears in his right knee. It was a devastating injury for the future Hall of Famer that had most of Philly wondering if the Eagles could overcome losing such a key piece of the offensive line.
(This was before the Birds lost quarterback Carson Wentz for the season and most fans thought losing Peters was the “worst case scenario”. Little did they know what was to come.)
Turns out that the Eagles could. While it was first thought that right tackle Lane Johnson would move to left tackle for the reminder of the year, that didn’t happen. Instead Johnson stayed put where he was and second-year player Halapoulivaati Vaitai took over at left tackle.
And overall, Vaitai has done pretty well for himself.
Yes there were some minor hiccups along the way, but Vaita has made the position his own and had his best performance when he needed it most against the potent Vikings defense. He essentially shut down Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen for the entire afternoon, at first with some help but as the game progressed it was all Big V.
There is no question that Vaitai has gone from second-year question mark to being a player that can be a starting left tackle on almost any team in the NFL.
Including the Philadelphia Eagles.
Which means once the Eagles win the Super Bowl (not if, when) there is going to have to be a conversation about what to do about Jason Peters.
During the offseason Peters signed an extension that will keep him in Eagles green until the 2019 season. At the time t was a questionable but understandable decision by GM Howie Roseman. Vaitai was still mostly an unknown quantity and keeping Peters in Philly made perfect sense, even if the price was a bit high for a 35-year-old who was entering the final phase of his esteemed career.
But now all the questions about Vaitai have been answered. The kid can play with the best of them. Which means Peters may not be needed on this Eagles roster anymore.
Parting ways with Peters via trade or releasing him could help the Eagles address some needs this offseason that are sure to come up, Super Bowl or no Super Bowl.
In addition, with Big V playing so well at left, it enables the Birds to keep Johnson at right tackle indefinitely instead of moving him to the other side as had been the plan when Peters retired.
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Any determination regarding Peters’ future will not be easy and it is sure to get the fans and the locker room pretty upset. Given that the guy has never gotten to play in a playoff game in his entire 14-year career it breaks you heart to see him on the sidelines. But Roseman has always made the hard decisions and done what is best for this team. As a result the Birds are headed to Minneapolis.
Saying goodbye to Jason Peters may be another hard decision that Roseman will have to make when the time comes.