When Jason Peters signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted rookie in 2004, he received a signing bonus of $5,000. At that point, earning a roster spot was the only foreseeable goal. Peters has since developed into one of the NFL's premier left tackles and has been compensated accordingly.
The Eagles made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in 2009, and they gave him a four-year contract extension on Wednesday that includes what Peters' agent Vincent Taylor said is the most guaranteed money ever given to a tackle age 32 or older.
Peters, 32, had one year remaining on his deal. He signed what amounted to a five-year, $51.3 million contract with $19.55 million guaranteed.
"A whole lot of weight off my shoulders, just knowing I'll be in Philly," Peters said. "I've loved it here since Day 1 when (Andy Reid) brought me here. I'm ready to go to battle for Chip (Kelly), and I'm with him for the next five years."
Peters hopes to retire in Philadelphia. If he remains with the Eagles through the length of the deal, he would play through his age-36 season. It's too soon to say whether he would stay with the team for all five years, but Wednesday's pact was beneficial for both parties. For Peters, it provided financial security and peace of mind, which is valuable for a player who missed all of 2012 with a twice-ruptured Achilles tendon.
For the Eagles, the deal locked up one of their elite players one year shy of free agency and also gave them roughly $2 million in cap relief this offseason.
"When we wanted to be a year, two years from now, Jason was a big part of that," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. " ... We had to look at what happens if he plays out this year, both sides of that, and the importance of having a guy, who the level of play was unheard of. He has the chance to be a Hall-of-Fame-type player in an Eagles uniform."
Reaching the Hall of Fame is a realistic goal for Peters, who is a six-time Pro Bowler and made his second all-pro team in 2013.
Taylor said one of the complicating issues during negotiations was the lack of precedent for this kind of deal. There have not been 32-year-old tackles who have received such a lucrative extension, so the Eagles and Taylor needed to be creative.
"It's almost like the pink elephant. What is it worth to you?" Taylor said.
Peters clearly has value to the Eagles. His accolades are a tangible reason. LeSean McCoy's league-leading 1,607 rushing yards in 2013, along with a franchise-record 442 points scored and 6,676 net yards are indicators of Peters' value to the offense.
When Kelly first saw a healthy Peters run last offseason, Roseman said Kelly responded with "expletive-filled" glee. It's simply hard to find someone that big and that athletic, which is why Kelly said in a statement on Wednesday that "there aren't many people cut from the same cloth as Jason Peters."
The risk in the signing is not Peters' health, it's his age. The Eagles were once reticent to invest in players over 30. Wednesday's investment was a rare occasion on which the Eagles committed major money to a player Peters' age.
"It negates a lot of commonly held facts about us," Roseman said. "That you hit a certain age, we're not going to keep you. That if you're paid a certain amount, we're not going to pay that to keep you."
The Eagles showed that age and money were not a deterrent in keeping Peters.
"They obviously think (I can produce), and they wouldn't have given me the contract if they didn't," Peters said. "I'm going to definitely live up to it."