Speculation has it that Jason Smith is in the running to be selected by the Detroit Lions with the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Matt Stafford seems to be his major competition, or is it Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters?
The Buffalo Bills are currently in negotiations with Jason Peters, a 6’4", 340-pound, 27-year-old offensive tackle. The problem is that they don’t seem to be close to reaching an agreement.
Peters wants to be the highest paid left tackle in the NFL. He is a two-time Pro Bowler who went undrafted in 2004 and signed on with the Bills. Peters was their starting right tackle in 2005, beating out Mike Williams, the fourth overall pick out of Texas, for the position, and earned a five-year, $15 million contract.
(Not that Mike Williams, Lions fans, even though the former USC wide receiver was nearly big enough to play on the offensive line.)
During the 2006 season, Peters took over the left tackle position and had his best professional season in 2007. His offensive line coach, Joe McNally stated, "His ability was limitless.”
In 2008, Peters became unhappy with his contract, despite being the only Pro Bowler; he was paid less than fellow lineman Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker.
Peters did not attend a three-day mandatory minicamp and was fined. He eventually played 13 games with the Bills in 2008 and is still looking for a new contract.
Sources say the Bills and Peters could be nearly $3 million per year apart. If the Bills don’t see improvement prior to the draft he could be traded.
The main sticking point is that Peters wants more than Jake Long, last year’s first overall pick, who signed a five-year, $57.5 million deal. The Bills claim that Long’s contract is not relevant to Peters' since he was not drafted first overall. Buffalo has focused more on veteran tackle Jordan Gross who signed a new contract this offseason.
Gross is a year older and has been selected to one fewer Pro Bowls than Peters. He signed a six-year, $60 million deal a month ago.
The Bills do have the 11th overall pick, which is a perfect position to select Peters' replacement, Langston Walker. The Bills right tackle could take over left tackle, if necessary easing the potential loss of Peters.
Most teams could use a 27-year-old, two-time Pro Bowl left tackle. If Peters were to hit the trade market, two teams that may be involved would be the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions.
The Eagles have lost both offensive tackles, Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, though they did sign Stacy Andrews, the offensive tackle from Cincinnati. Philadelphia has two first round picks, No. 21 and No. 28 overall, leading the league with 11 total drafts picks.
On March 15, www.ProFootballCentral.com reported that the Lions were very interested in the Peters negotiations, possibly confirming that Detroit would be involved trade talks if he were available.
Detroit’s new general manager has already negotiated with Buffalo this offseason, completing a deal for Derrick Dockery which was later voided because it missed a deadline.
Detroit recently had left tackle Ephraim Salaam in town, emphasizing their need for a left tackle. The Lions may draft Matthew Stafford with the first pick and if a Peters trade happened it would secure the offensive line.
The biggest benefit the Lions have is the 20th pick overall, one pick ahead of Philadelphia’s. The Lions would have to give Peters a huge contract, but earlier this offseason they were willing to sign Dockery for around $27 million.
Detroit seems willing to pay Peters, who would instantly solidify their offensive line as a proven player who still has yet to hit his prime.
Peters' fate should be decided by draft day, and Lions fans should be hoping for a trade that would instantly improve the offensive line and give them a proven left tackle versus a rookie.