Selfish Peters should be dealt
By Adam Beilman
Upon being selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, left tackle Jason Peters told the media, "This is the highest honor you can get individually. That's what I set out to do every year — to go to the Pro Bowl. They're not going to vote you in if you don't play up to your standards."
The question, though, is who does Peters share standards with? The players and coaches voted him to start in the NFL's All Star game in Hawaii, but he did not even finish in the top five for AFC offensive tackles in the fan voting, which accounts for one-third of the total tally. Of the fan votes Peters did receive, most of them probably came from outside Western New York, where the fifth year tackle was lambasted for his training camp holdout, his average of one whiffed block per game, and his general apathy toward team success.
Coaches and fans could not have been amused when Peters was quoted as saying, "I work at it. That's what you play the game for, to get to Hawaii. It's an honor."
Apparently winning is merely a possible side-effect of the real purpose of the game: going to the Pro Bowl. Jason Peters has proven he is not a team-first player, and therefore does not belong in this team-first organization.
Peters is undoubtedly a first-tier left tackle, one of which is invaluable in today's NFL. In Peters' case, however, it seems he appears more valuable throughout the league than in Buffalo. Combine this with Peters' ongoing demand for more money, and it spells one thing: trade bait.
There are plenty of teams throughout the league who would kill for a left tackle with Peters' talent, and some of them are presumably those which voted him into the Pro Bowl. If these franchises really respect Peters that much, they'll probably give up a pretty penny to acquire his services. The Bills could potentially swap Peters and his leis and hula skirts for a first round pick in April's draft, or for a high quality player at one of their need positions.
The Bills don't want to pay Peters to keep him happy, but because of his Pro Bowl selection they don't have a choice if they want him to show up before the opening week of the regular season. His value to the Bills right now is equivalent to his perceived value throughout the league. The best case scenario has Peters' flight back from Hawaii landing somewhere other than Buffalo.
Bills can't afford to lose Peters
By Tyler Dunne
Jason Peters is kidding himself.
Buffalo's starting left tackle couldn't have been prouder after receiving a ticket to the Pro Bowl. He pumped his massive chest out and proclaimed it was the "highest honor you can get individually." You can only hope that deep inside Peters knows the honor isn't legit. It's merely the Reuben Brown Effect.
Brief dominance builds a reputation. Rep leads to Pro Bowl, and another Pro Bowl and another Pro Bowl --- no matter how much the lineman's play erodes. People in Western New York knew that Brown had no business stomping around Hawaii toward the end of his tenure. And Peters, after a messy holdout, was a sieve at times this season. Peters allowed more sacks than any other left tackle in the NFL (11.5 sacks in 13 games).
No doubt, Russ Brandon's team will use such a raw reality against Peters when the two sides re-open contract talks. If Peters is seeking Walter Jones' type of money (seven years, $52.5 million), then he's kidding himself again. But now is certainly not the time to banish Peters as if he were Jamie Nails. One season should not define Peters.
He still possesses the complete package that the left tackle position demands --- quick feet, strong leverage, athletic on an island. There aren't many 6-foot-4, 340-pound linemen in the history of the game with Peters' nimbleness. Remember, he was a tight end at Arkansas. Simply ridding themselves of Peters because of this season would be devastating. The alternative isn't very inspiring. Kirk Chambers is serviceable, but not ready to assume blind-side responsibilities. At full potential, Peters is prime rib to Chambers' venison.
As the season progressed, Peters showed flashes that his ornery behavior from the summer had passed. The out-of-shape lug that half-heartedly reported to the team slowly began to morph back into the Jason Peters that does deserve a hefty raise. I'm going to give him a break on the high number of sacks. Outside of Lee Evans, Buffalo may have the slowest set of receivers in the league. The passing game was hardly a rhythmic thing of beauty. Peters' desire became evident in the running game.
After a brutal mid-season funk, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson turned on the jets through December. Peters was a big reason why. In Buffalo's nightmarish 31-27 loss to the Jets --- Peters' last start of the season --- Lynch averaged six yards per carry. A good chunk of his success came behind Peters. Peters manhandled one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the NFL, Shaun Ellis. Peters was dominant in the ground game in five of his last six starts (exception being Buffalo's 16-3 loss to Miami in Toronto). Lynch veered often to Peters inside hip for yardage, gaining 459 yards in the five contests.
This was the brightest silver lining the Bills could possibly take into the off-season. The rushing game really hit its stride when the temperature dipped. Now is not the time to throw the engine out of the car. With a reasonable contract extension (i.e. under $7 million per year), the Bills can put this whole ordeal to rest once and for all. Secure Peters now and move forward with an offensive line that improved throughout the season after an underachieving start.
Peters must get real and realize he can't carve out his bust in Canton quite yet. A full off-season to contemplate his stubborn holdout and ensuing subpar results should shoot him back to earth. But also, the Bills must realize that athletic left tackles are a very, very rare species. Peters can protect the blind side for the next decade.
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