The last six seasons Jason Peters has played, he's been named either first- or second-team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl. (USA Today Images)
What Reggie White meant to the Eagles, Jason Peters means that much. What Brian Dawkins meant, Jason Peters means that much as well.
He’s not just a star, he’s not just the best at his position in the league, he’s one of the best at his position ever to play the game.
White and Dawkins are the two greatest Eagles of the last 50 years, and Peters is in the same class.
Maybe because he plays left tackle and doesn’t pile up stats like White and Dawkins did, it’s not as obvious.
But if anybody deserved the type of unprecedented contract the Eagles gave Peters this week -- the richest deal ever for an offensive lineman his age and one of the most lucrative deals ever for any non-quarterback at least 32 years old -- it’s Peters.
The Eagles let White walk to Green Bay and let Dawk walk to Denver. This Hall of Fame candidate is staying put.
White was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and Dawkins at some point should also be honored on the hallowed ground of Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
He’s that good.
Guys like Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Art Monk and James Lofton spent a year or two in Philly at the beginning or end of their career, but White is the only true Eagle who played here the last 50 years to make it to the Hall of Fame.
Before that, you have a bunch of guys from the late 1950s and early 1960s -- Tommy McDonald, Bob Brown, Chuck Bednarik, plus guys like Mike Ditka, Jim Ringo and Sonny Jurgensen, who were inducted primarily for their achievements with other teams.
Dawk should end that drought, although he’s not a slam-dunk. Neither is Peters, although six Pro Bowls in the last seven years has him fast-tracking to Canton.
The five-year, $48.3 million contract Peters signed on Tuesday is an investment in Peters being able to maintain his level of play well into his 30s.
Offensive linemen who have done that -- Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, Alan Faneca, Willie Roaf -- are either Hall of Famers or will be.
The last six seasons Peters has played football -- 2007 and 2008 with the Bills and 2009 through 2011 plus 2013 with the Eagles -- he’s been a first- or second-team all-pro and made the Pro Bowl team.
If Peters makes three more Pro Bowls, he’ll be sitting at nine at 35 years old, and since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, every offensive lineman but one who’s made at least nine Pro Bowls has gone on to enshrinement in Canton. The exception is Will Shields, who was a finalist this year and is a lock to make his way into the Hall of Fame in the next couple years.
Looking more broadly, Shields is actually the only nine-time Pro Bowler at any position since the merger who’s eligible for the Hall of Fame who hasn’t gotten in.
That’s 20 of 21 guys. And two more -- Junior Seau and Ray Lewis -- will be inducted soon, in their first year of eligibility.
So it comes down to this: Can Peters maintain his level of play for a few more years? If he can, he’s virtually a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Because if he can go out there like he did this past season and enjoy another an all-pro season in a new offense with a new position coach and new coordinator while coming off two Achilles surgeries, there is no reason on Earth to think he can’t keep playing at at least an equally high level through 2016.
At some point five, six, seven, maybe eight years after he retires, Jason Peters will be in the Hall of Fame.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.
“As part of our research on this, we’ve looked at offensive tackles who’ve been named all-pro for six or seven years or Pro Bowl players for seven or eight years, and those guys are in the Hall of Fame.
“We’ve talked openly with him about that. If he puts his mind to it, which no doubt he’s going to, and commits to our offseason and our football team, which he’s done, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in that conversation.”
Peters' response about the Hall of Fame is typically brief.
Is the Hall something that drives you?
“Of course,” he said.
Then he adds: “I'm just going to keep doing what I do. I'm going to put it all out on the field every snap, every year, year in and year out.
“I try to get better every play that I play. And whatever happens, happens.”