He will undergo surgery this coming Tuesday, which will likely end his 2012 season before it even begins. The recovery from an Achilles tendon injury is usually at least a six-month window but sometimes much longer (just ask Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard).
Peters turned 30 in January, meaning he will be 31.5 before he plays another game in the league. At that point, you have to wonder if the five-time Pro Bowl left tackle will even be able to move around with the same speed and agility, not to mention power, that he had displayed during the past three or four seasons.
The Eagles also announced today that they have re-signed backup offensive lineman King Dunlap to a one-year deal. Dunlap has started seven games over the past two seasons at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle.
I certainly don’t want the Eagles to use Dunlap as their starting left tackle next season. There are a number of available free agent candidates available, including Marcus McNeill, Demetrius Bell, and Kareem McKenzie.
The Eagles also have a pretty solid roster, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team use their 15th overall pick on a tackle. The only problem is that the entire starting offensive line is signed through the year 2014, and drafting a tackle next season would become a problem in 2013 when Peters returned.
They could also shift Todd Herremans to left tackle and sign/draft another player at right tackle.
Regardless, the loss of Peters is a gigantic blow to the Eagles. He rated almost twice as good as the next best offensive tackle in the National Football League in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus. Although LeSean McCoy broke the franchise record by scoring 20 touchdowns, you could actually make a case for Peters as the team’s most valuable player in 2011.
Over his three seasons in Philly, he has played in 42 of a possible 48 games, missing an average of two per season due to injuries. He’s been a rock, a leader, and one of the most valuable members of the team.
So in 2012, the Eagles will still have valuable offensive line coach Howard Mudd. They have the draft in a month and several months left of free agency (Bell is visiting from Buffalo this weekend). And they have four returning members of the offensive line, two of who played at an almost Pro Bowl level in 2011, and two more who will be one year older and more developed.
But replacing Peters will be absolutely impossible, and there’s no way to hide that.