“He just ran the edge and got me,” Peters said. “He didn’t really beat me. Bad technique.”
This conversation took place in Deccember. The sack happened in September, while Peters was playing with a finger broken so severely, an X-ray showed the two pieces of bone weren’t touching.
That explains a lot about Peters’ expectations of excellence. That in turn explains how an undrafted rookie tight end who got $5,000 to sign with the Buffalo Bills just signed a five-year, $51.3 million contract to finish his career as the left tackle of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The deal includes nearly $20 million in guaranteed money, the most ever for an offensive lineman Peters’ age, 32, or older.
“He’s a unique player,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Wednesday. “When you talk about the physical gifts that he has, there’s not many men on this earth who are as physically talented as he is. His level of play was unheard-of. He’s got a chance to be a Hall of Fame-type player in an Eagles uniform.”
Peters was going into the final year of his contract. The Eagles approached him before the season about an extension. Vincent Taylor, Peters’ agent, said there were “soft talks” throughout the season. Peters, who missed all of 2012 while rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon, returned to Pro Bowl form in his first season under coach Chip Kelly.
For Peters, the appeal to signing an extension now was simple.
“The security,” Peters said. “I guess they didn’t want to risk losing me. I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I let them know that. We got it done.”
That Achilles injury factored into the thinking on both sides. For Peters, it was an example of how quickly a career can be threatened. He tore it while working out in March 2012, then reinjured it in an accident. It took two surgeries and months of rehab to get back on the field.
“I think that was one of Jason’s motivations,” Taylor said. “He said, 'Vince, I just want peace of mind. Because you know me, I don’t know any other gear besides 100 percent. I want to know if I go out and something happens while I’m giving it all I’ve got, then I’ll be OK.'"
For the Eagles, Peters’ absence through a disastrous 4-12 season made them appreciate his presence in 2013 that much more.
“When you lose a player like that, the ramifications along your offensive line and the things you need to do to recover are extremely hard,” Roseman said. “I can’t tell you that, when we went and looked at our team with that hole, without his name, and then go back and look at the tape from this year, that those thoughts don’t come across. When he’s out on the field, we all feel different.”
Peters played most of 2013 with his fingers taped together because of that fracture. He had a minor quadriceps injury that forced him to miss a few snaps. But he dropped more than 20 pounds in Chip Kelly’s conditioning and nutrition program and said he felt better and more energetic than ever.
So Peters said he has no doubts he can play another five seasons, which would take him to age 36.
“I think so,” Peters said. “And they obviously think so. They wouldn’t have given me the contract if they didn’t. I’m definitely going to live up to it.”