The former Bears, Eagles and Bills blocker will aim to fill the void left by Tyron Smith‘s injury. This will be Peters’ 19th NFL season. The Cowboys came into Labor Day holding the fourth-most cap space in the league (just more than $14MM). Some of it will go to Peters, who stands to play an important role in helping the Cowboys defend their NFC East title. Peters grew up in northeast Texas, making this a homecoming of sorts to potentially cap off a Hall of Fame career.
Not much of Dallas’ cap space, it turns out, will be needed for the time being. The team is giving Peters a ramp-up period, with CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson adding (via Twitter) Monday’s deal is a practice squad agreement. Since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the NFL to expand practice squads to 16 players, teams have increasingly used it as a way to add veterans ahead of promotions to the active roster. The Cowboys will be the latest team to take this route.
This transaction marks the third straight year in which Peters found a deal after waiting in free agency for months. He re-signed with the Eagles in July 2020 and joined the Bears in August of last year. The longtime Philly mainstay will now get to work on helping the Cowboys hold off an Eagles team that saw Smith’s injury strengthen its chances of winning the division.
This week’s vested veteran guarantee is a factor here as well. Vets’ salaries become guaranteed if on a 53-man roster this week, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes the Cowboys had not planned to add a free agent tackle until Week 2 (Twitter link). It opens the door to an unusual scenario in which the Cowboys start a rookie at left tackle in Week 1 before promoting Peters to play there.
Smith’s avulsion fracture, which he sustained August 24, is expected to sideline him until at least December. The 12th-year tackle has undergone surgery. With it being possible the perennial Pro Bowler will miss the season, the Cowboys were left scrambling. They had been belatedly preparing first-round pick Tyler Smith to begin his run as Tyron’s blindside heir apparent early. Jerry Jones said last week it was “safe to say” the Tulsa-developed rookie would start at left tackle, via Jon Machota of The Athletic (on Twitter). Peters either gives the Cowboys high-profile insurance, or a scenario in which the first-rounder moves back to left guard once Peters is ready emerges.
Peters does not represent the safest of bets here; injuries have cropped up fairly frequently during the latter half of the acclaimed performer’s career. He missed eight games in 2020 and only played in seven during the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning season. But he is coming off a 15-game season in Chicago. The Bears added Peters in the wake of Teven Jenkins‘ back injury, and the veteran produced what Pro Football Focus graded as a top-25 tackle season. While this did not draw too much attention, as the Bears struggled in 2021, it showed Peters remained a viable left tackle option for a contending team. Peters indicated this offseason he wanted to play an age-40 season, and the Cowboys’ need looks to have created that opportunity.
The Eagles had Peters tied to high-end contracts for most of his 12-year stay with the franchise, but the UDFA success story played last season on a one-year, $1.75MM deal. It will be interesting to see how much Cowboys wind up paying him, once this P-squad agreement translates to an active-roster promotion. Duane Brown signed a two-year, $20MM deal to be Mekhi Becton‘s emergency fill-in. Becton’s avulsion fracture is expected to sideline him for the season. Brown is also a decorated left tackle and is three years younger than Peters, but the latter is a nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro.
As the Cowboys currently employ two All-Decade tackles and All-Decade guard Zack Martin, they have Terence Steele ready to take over for La’el Collins on the right side and Connor McGovern prepared to start at left guard. Peters (218 career starts) moving into Dallas’ lineup would likely bump McGovern down to a swing player.
If/when Peters moves up to Dallas’ 53-man roster and suits up for a game, he would join only three other tackles to play an age-40 season. Andrew Whitworth, who turned 40 late in his final season, joins only Ray Brown and Hall of Famer Jackie Slater in accomplishing this rare feat.