By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — In most cases a torn Achilles tendon is the death knell for all-star athletes. A torn Achilles may lead to the end of Kobe Bryant. Ryan Howard tore his left Achilles in the 2011 National League Divisional playoff loss to St. Louis and he hasn’t been the same since.
It still stings recalling the writhing Howard on the ground gripping his left leg in pain after making the final out.
That could have easily been Jason Peters. The Eagles’ perennial All-Pro left tackle could still be sorting his way back, tinkering with the framework that’s made him one of the best tackles in the NFL.
Instead, Peters defied the norm when he came back from rupturing his right Achilles tendon twice within a month in the spring of 2012. The Eagles handsomely rewarded Peters on Wednesday with a five-year contract extension worth a reported $51 million.
“Coming in this year I was about 350 [pounds], I want to say, dropped down to 317 [pounds], felt good. I thank Chip [Kelly] for bringing in the conditioning program to help all the guys, really, to prolong their career,” Peters said. “It’s a whole lot of weight off my shoulders, just knowing that I’m gonna be here, be in Philly. Like I said, I’ve loved it here from day one, when Coach [Andy] Reid brought me here and I’m ready to go to battle with Chip, and I’m with him for the next five years.”
The contract carried through 2018 and will probably cover the rest of Peters’ NFL career. He turned 32 on January 22 and the contract will run until he’s 36.
Peters regained his All-Pro form this past season, after missing all of 2012 recuperating from the torn Achilles injury.
When healthy, he’s been the cornerstone of the Eagles’ offensive line. In 2011, LeSean McCoy rushed for a career-best 17 TDs and 1,309 yards, many times running left behind Peters. In 2013, McCoy had the greatest season of his career, shattering many prominent Eagles’ rushing records. Again, much of that credit belongs to Peters.
It’s a fact not lost on Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly.
“To be able to bounce back from two Achilles injuries and return to an All-Pro level speaks not only to his incredible athleticism, but proves just how hard he works at his game,” said Kelly, in a released statement by the Eagles on Wednesday. “Having him at left tackle provides a lot of comfort to our quarterback and to our entire offense. He’s a guy that many players look up to in our locker room.”
By locking in Peters, a six-time Pro Bowler, the Eagles will arguably have one of the best offensive lines in football, with All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis, center Jason Kelce, right guard Todd Herremans and right tackle Lane Johnson, the Eagles’ 2013 first-round pick who started 16 games last season.
The deal gives the Eagles stability at both tackle positions for the next three years.
“Jason is everything you look for in a left tackle,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “The unique blend of size, speed and athleticism that Jason possesses is something that everyone wants in an offensive lineman. However, what really makes him unique is his desire to improve day in and day out despite the fact that he’s played at an elite level for so many years. We are truly rewarding Jason’s excellence, as he’s a guy who has made six Pro Bowl appearances and has been selected an All-Pro five times. We’re excited to be able to keep him in Philadelphia for years to come.”