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Well, it’s done. Jason Peters has been traded to the Eagles for a first and fourth pick this year and a sixth next year. Peters has signed an extension with Eagles.
What do I think? I don’t like it, but mostly I think there are a lot of things I don’t know.
1. I don’t know if the Bills have any idea what they’re doing. The Bills clearly started rebuilding in 2006. By 2008 they had cleaned out everyone who needed to go and plenty others, as well. They had the core they needed, it seemed, to begin to win consistently. Then, in three months, the starting center is gone, the starting left guard is gone and the starting left tackle is gone. Are the Bills rebuilding, again?
2. I don’t know if Jason Peters will ever be a premier left tackle. I know he has the physical tools. I’ve seen him make all the plays that a premier left tackle makes, but there have been plenty of guys with the tools who never starred in the NFL .
3. I don’t know if Jason Peters has the heart to be a star in the NFL. He hasn’t shown it so far. There’s something about him that’s always made me uncomfortable. Part of it is how he leaves games with injuries. Fine, I know guys tweak things and have to go out for a play or two here and there, but it seems like a habit with Jason. He’s missed the end of the past two seasons with injuries. I guess they were real. But the really great players stay on the field. They WANT it.
I saw Jim Kelly get knocked unconscious, fumble, the Bills get a turnover on the next play, and Kelly return to the field to throw a TD on the first play. You could feel it with Jim. I don’t feel it with Jason.
There’s something troubling about a guy who says, essentially, “I’m not going to give you my best until you pay me.” Is Jason Peters Manny Ramirez? For that matter, is he Terrell Owens?
4. I don’t know about his pedigree. This goes to his heart, too. Just about every good pro showed his potential in college. I know, there are exceptions, and maybe Jason is an exception. Coming out of high school, Jason wasn’t a top prospect. Fine, not every star was showing it in high school. Then Jason spent his time in college and he still hadn’t shown enough for anyone to draft him. That raises a real questionmark for me. The guy has these fabulous physical tools and didn’t apply them enough for any team to burn even a seventh round pick on him. That says something about him, something I don’t like.
Compare him to Leodis McKelvin. Leodis must not have shown much coming out of high school, either, becasue none of the big-time schools took a shot at him. So off he goes to Troy. By the end of four years, he was showing it.
There’s just something about Jason that always left me uncomfortable.
5. I don’t know who the Bills studs are. Jason Peters was unquestionably the best young talent on the Bills. Raw physical talent, he’s better than Lee, better than Marshawn, and way better than anyone else. There are only two ways to win in the NFL – collect really outstanding talent or have truly outstanding coaching (or some combination of both). Either way, you have to spend money. The Bills have demonstrated they won’t spend the big dollars for a really good coaching staff – it’s been no-names (with the exception of Chuck Knox) for 50 years. The Bills have to be willing to overspend on really good talent here or there – it’s the only other choice. If you’re going to overspend on anyone, Jason Peters has the talent to have been the one.
6. I don’t know what the Bills coaching staff thought about Peters. They might have had the same concerns that I have. Who wants a guy who doesn’t show up at camp? They might have said to Brandon “don’t spend top dollar for this guy, because we don’t think we can count on him, play after play, game after game, season after season, to dominate.” Frankly, I think the questions about Peters are reflected in the deal the Bills got. A 28th pick and a fourth rounder (a sixth in 2010 is practically worthless) is NOT enough for the an All-Pro left tackle. However, I think the Eagles were saying “we’re going to have to overpay for a guy who’s not really proven himself to be the long-term stud, so we’re not giving you a first this year and a first next year.”
7. I don’t know what the Bills do now. I don’t think Walker is a left tackle. Chambers actually looked pretty good at left tackle at the end of last season, but I assumed the Bills had him slated for left guard. I can’t imagine they’ll start the season with Bell at left tackle. I suppose Chambers at LT and Bell at LG is possible, although some people have said that Bell really has tackle skills and size, not guard skills and size. I don’t know – there are some big guards in the league.
It certainly seems like the Bills now will take the best offensive lineman available with pick #11. His issues notwithstanding, I like Andre Smith based on the little bit I’ve read about him. Jason Smith apparently is the star of the class, but I wouldn’t trade up into the top five to get him, for two reasons: The Bills probably would have to package the 11th and the 28th to get there (I’d rather have three first day picks), and the pricetag for top five players is just to high. If the Bills are willing to spend that kind of money on a draftee, they should have spent it on Jason and kept the 11th pick.
8. I don’t know who’s making the decisions at One Bills Drive. What I do know is that there isn’t one person there with a track record that makes me warm and fuzzy. Not Mr. Wilson, not Brandon, not Jauron. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I’ve been hoping for pleasant surprises for a couple of years now. I’ve been surprised, sure, but not pleasantly.
9. I don’t know what this does to team morale. It does mean Trent’s going to be peeking over his left shoulder at the pass rush, at least until he develops a little confidence that someone there can keep him from getting maimed. Marshawn may not mind the prospect of sitting out the first few games, so that the players and coaches can figure out how to block people on the left side.
But if I’m Marcus Stroud, I’m thinking “what in the world have I gotten myself into? Our defense isn’t bad, but what’s with the offense? Linemen are coming and going like it’s red-tag day at Wal-Mart, our running back gets suspended, we bring in the league’s most notorious problem child to play wideout. Even the supposed leader of the defense gets tossed in jail.”
10. I don’t know how all this is going to turn out. There’s no way to know now who got the best of the Peters deal. The Bills could be the winners if Peters craps out this season or next or beyond. The Bills could be the winners if Peters continues to show flashes of brilliance without sustained All-Pro play. The Bills could be the losers if Peters becomes the stud he can be. It could be a win-win if the Bills two first-round picks become the heart of a championship team.
I do know this: DIck Jauron’s job is totally on the line in 2009. I thought so after the Owens signing, and I think so now. This is his team – he’s kept the guys he’s wanted, he’s dumped the guys he didn’t. About the only holdover from the pre-Jauron era is the Ball Burglar. The offensive line is now totally his – no starter on the 2009 Bills offensive line was here when Dick took over (unless the Bills surprise me and swap a first-round pick to get Gandy back!). It’s his RB, his QB, his defense, his defensive players. Dick picked these guys, and Dick has to live or die with them.
Like I said, maybe he’ll surprise me.