Jason Peters explains decision to keep playing, join Bears

Jason Peters was home in Texas fishing on a creek when he got a call from Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

“Uh oh,” Peters said. “I know what this is.”

And just like that, the 39-year-old offensive tackle was back in the NFL, hanging on for one more year in a career that has a pretty good shot to put him in Canton.

It was a strange sight on Monday at Halas Hall. Not only was the longtime Eagles great decked out in Bears gear, but he also sat down for a nearly 10-minute press conference in which he was asked about his return to the NFL, the injury that ended his 2020 season early and his reasoning for joining the Bears last week.

Late in his Eagles career, Peters spoke to reporters more and more infrequently and last season — the Year of Zoom — his perfectly sculpted beard didn’t appear once virtually. This offseason, Peters spoke publicly just a couple of times. In January, he told 6ABC he wanted to play one more season. In March, he joined NFL Network and talked about the Carson Wentz trade and future of Jalen Hurts.

Peters on Monday said he wasn’t monitoring the Bears’ situation at tackle but has been told he’ll be given the opportunity to compete for the left tackle job. Second-round pick Teven Jenkins has missed all of training camp.

Peters, who had been the Eagles’ longest-tenured player, said he told the Eagles’ front office his plan to play one more NFL season, but it was pretty obvious it wouldn’t be in Philadelphia.

So why hasn’t Peters retired yet?

“I just love the game,” he said. “When you stop loving the game, you’re going to let it go. Right now, I still love doing it. It’s fun to me. Going out on Sundays, my nephews and family watch me. So it’s just still fun to me. I like the camaraderie with the guys and stuff, the locker room. You don’t get that nowhere else but here.”

In Chicago, Peters thinks he has a good situation, especially because of his familiarity with Castillo and head coach Matt Nagy from their time together in Philadelphia.

And despite the Bears’ 8-8 finish last season, he thinks his new team has a chance to win.

“I really don’t have nothing to prove,” Peters said. “I just want to get another ring. I was talking to Juan yesterday, the Pro Bowl stuff, I got plenty of those, All-Pros, all the accolades. The biggest one for me now is Super Bowl. I got one, I would like another one here with the Chicago Bears.”

The Eagles were prepared to move on from Peters after the 2019 season but then Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles in June and the Eagles concocted a plan to make Peters their right guard. That lasted until Andre Dillard tore his biceps at training camp and after a pay bump, Peters was back at left tackle again.

But Peters fractured and dislocated his big toe in Week 1 and even though he managed to play through it for a while, playing and starting eight total games, he eventually shut it down and got surgery after the Eagles were out of the playoff race.

It’s hard to imagine the nine-time Pro Bowler has a ton left in the tank, but Peters on Monday said he feels quick and strong. He challenged those at the press conference to watch him in practice or in a game and tell that he’s 39.

There’s a thought that Peters has tarnished his legacy by hanging on too long and maybe he has. But it’s his legacy and if he wants to keep playing, that’s his decision.

Still, it would be weird to think about Peters being on a roster and not being a starter. Peters hasn’t played in a game without starting it since 2005.

What if he doesn’t win the starting job?

“Yeah, I wouldn’t cry about it,” Peters said. “I done accomplished a lot of stuff. I’m here to help the young guys, mold them and if I don’t become the starter, I’m going to help mold them into great players and hand the baton off to them.”

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