Bengals missed out on huge opportunity by not signing Jason Peters

Jason Peters (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Jason Peters (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals missed a big opportunity to shore up their weakest position group by not signing proven tackle Jason Peters.

On Tuesday morning it was announced that the Philidelphia Eagles re-signed their longtime tackle, Jason Peters. The deal is reportedly for a single season and it’s maximum value tops out around $6M. For a two-time first-team All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler, that’s an extremely reasonable agreement. It’s a contract the Cincinnati Bengals certainly should have offered to shore up their trenches.

The biggest knock on Peters entering this year’s offseason was his age. He’ll be gearing up for his 17th season in the league at 38 years old. That’s almost unheard of at any position in the NFL, but it’s an especially impressive feat for an offensive lineman.

Either way, his age hasn’t slowed him down. In fact, Pro Football Focus had the Texas native graded out as the sixth-best tackle a season ago. Plus, one look at this workout video he posted in May would suggest that he still has plenty left in the tank.

How he would have fit with the Bengals

It’s no secret that Cincinnati has struggled along the offensive line for the past several seasons. The coaching staff has projected an optimistic view of the position group, but the truth is, they’re hoping for big leaps in development from young and unproven players.

In some cases, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, in a season where the team is welcoming a new franchise quarterback, the goal should be to surround him with as little uncertainty as possible.

Peters would have offered more of a sure thing in front of Joe Burrow and provided a steadying leadership presence for the Bengals’ youngsters up-front.

Would the salary cap have allowed for such a move?

As things stand, the Bengals wield the fifth-most salary cap space in the entire league. That fact comes with an asterisk, however. The front office is undoubtedly in the midst of trying to extend players like A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, and William Jackson III, tying up some of that money.

Not to mention, there is no telling how the salary cap will be impacted by the on-going pandemic. If it’s significantly reduced, the Bengals will look very wise for holding on to as much of their cap space as possible.

On the other hand, the deal Peters agreed to was for the 2020 season only. That would have allowed the Bengals to upgrade their line without significant long-term investment.

Even if the roughly $24M in cap space they possess was ear-marked for extensions and the draft class, they could have made other moves to make room for the star bookend.

At the end of the day, there’s no telling if Cincinnati could have acquired Peters for the same amount the Eagles did. After all, he could have given the franchise he’s called home for the past 11 seasons a discount. Still, it seems the Bengals could have offered a deal lucrative enough to lure him away from Philidelphia.

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If the offensive line flounders again in 2020, there are no excuses. There have been plenty of opportunities to upgrade the unit. Now, the orange and black faithful will have to hope that the return of Jonah Williams and the development of players like Michael Jordan or Fred Johnson will be enough.