When the Philadelphia Eagles suffered an injury hit on their offensive line earlier this offseason, it opened the door for a reunion with their longest-tenured veteran.
Longtime tackle Jason Peters is back for a 17th NFL season, the team announced. Peters, who turned 38 years old in January, has spent the past 11 seasons with Philadelphia after spending his first five years in the league with the Buffalo Bills.
But check out that position designation: guard. The offseason injury to Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks opened a big hole up front, and the Eagles are turning to Peters as their Band-Aid.
Peters has been the Eagles’ primary left tackle for more than a decade, outside of injuries. But Pro Football Focus has charted Peters as having played one career snap at guard — last season vs. the Patriots — in his career.
Peters has played both tackle spots, and he occasionally has kicked out to tight end in heavy sets, but the OG position will be mostly new to him in terms of game action.
However, Peters told The Philly Voice in 2019 that he was open at that time, as he clearly is now, to the idea of moving inside if it meant extending his career.
“Yeah, I’m going to play as long as I can,” Peters said then. “As long as I can do it, I’m going to go. Whether that’s tackle or guard, I can play all the way across the board.”
Peters is a revered and respected figure in the Eagles’ locker room, and his arrival clearly brings a high measure of leadership. But the team also believes in his functional ability to switch late in his career to an unfamiliar position and hold his own.
The Eagles’ offensive lineman who is now in the spotlight
The re-signing of Peters and his move to guard can be viewed as a vote of confidence for 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard. The Eagles traded up for the talented pass protector that year, but his first season was a mixed bag.
Dillard played both tackle spots (and was used as a sixth offensive lineman in heavy fronts occasionally) last year in 16 games. But he primarily lined up on the left side, starting four games between Weeks 7 and 12, struggling especially in games against the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.
Strength apparently was an issue for Dillard, who trained with Brooks this offseason and reportedly is up to 335 pounds (up from 315 a year ago). Brooks noticed the difference, telling NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants that Dillard’s body has changed in a year’s time.
“None of that college body, that noodle body, none of that,” Brooks said in June. “He’s been hitting the weights, man, getting strong. I tried to push him every day. You know how it is playing O-line, there’s no excuses, you gotta get it done.”
The Eagles allowed Peters to test the free-agent market, but the action was quiet. It was a gamble on Dillard’s talent and the team’s belief in him.
But Peters is back, and he theoretically could take over for a struggling Dillard if needed. The Eagles have a solid but unspectacular option at right guard in Matt Pryor, who did a nice job there last year as a fill-in. But there’s little doubt the team intends to give Dillard every shot to win the left tackle job and keep it before considering fallback options.
If the Eagles do need to enact that break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan, it could be a bad sign for the line’s performance — and for Dillard’s future in Philly.
More from Yahoo Sports: