In an offseason full of blockbuster trades, the Buffalo Bills pulled off a stunner by sending two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles for a first-round pick (No. 28 overall) and a fourth-round pick in next week's NFL draft and a sixth-round selection in 2010. Let's analyze the deal.
How does the trade impact the Eagles?
The move to acquire Peters fortifies the Eagles' offensive line, which now features more size and athleticism. With Peters at left tackle and Stacy Andrews, who joined the team in free agency, on the right side, the Eagles have two young, athletic tackles in their lineup. And with Andrews' younger brother, Shawn, at guard, the Eagles have three dominant offensive linemen who are in the prime of their careers.
The bolstered Eagles front should lead to Brian Westbrook topping career highs in rushing attempts and yards this season. The two-time Pro Bowl running back has never received the opportunities that most workhorses do, but Philadelphia's offensive staff should have more confidence running behind a line that's arguably the most physical and athletic in the NFL.
In addition to fortifying the Eagles' running game, Peters' acquisition should benefit quarterback Donovan McNabb and the team's aerial attack. Peters has the ability to go one-on-one with the NFC East's top pass rushers (DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys and Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck of the New York Giants), and that should free Philadelphia to use more five-man routes in the passing game. Moreover, Peters gives McNabb added confidence that he can fully work through his progressions without worrying about being nailed from his blind side. This could result in more big pass plays as the Eagles incorporate more five- and seven-step drops for McNabb and deeper routes for receivers into their game plan.
How does the trade impact the Bills?
The loss of Peters robs Buffalo of its best offensive lineman. The two-time Pro Bowler has been exceptional since stepping into the starting lineup and is regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the league. Peters' departure, coupled with the release of guard Derrick Dockery, means the Bills will enter the 2009 season with an entirely new left side on the offensive line, which could spell trouble for an offense that has struggled to consistently generate points.
However, the Bills can make up for Peters' absence by selecting one of the talented offensive tackles available in this year's draft. Though three of the top prospects (Baylor's Jason Smith, Virginia's Eugene Monroe and Alabama's Andre Smith) could be off the board by the time the Bills pick at No. 11, they could snatch up Ole Miss' Michael Oher. Replacing a Pro Bowler with a rookie is a bit of a gamble, but this year's draft class has enough talent to adequately fit the bill at offensive tackle.
In addition, the extra first-round pick acquired in the Peters trade might allow Buffalo to address one of its other needs -- tight end. Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew has slipped a bit, but he's still the most complete tight end on the board and would give the Bills the middle-of-the-field threat that they have missed for years.
How does the trade impact the rest of the league?
The Eagles already were regarded as one of the favorites in the NFC, but the acquisition of Peters makes them title contenders. They are talented along the line and have one of the league's best offensive weapons in Westbrook. Though Philadelphia still lacks a No. 1 wide receiver, it has consistently won games throughout the Andy Reid tenure without one, so there is no reason to think that would change this season.
For the Bills, it's another gamble in an offseason full of risky moves designed to end their decade-long playoff absence. While the trade robs Buffalo of a talented player, it could bring back enough ammunition to allow the team to compete with the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins for the AFC East title.