- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Eagles introduced their new $60 million man on Sunday, completing a major upgrade of the offensive line.

Coach Andy Reid believes Jason Peters, the Pro Bowl left tackle Philadelphia acquired in a trade with Buffalo on Friday, can fill the hole left by the departure of unrestricted free agent and four-time Pro Bowler Tra Thomas to Jacksonville.

“Of course Tra Thomas is a great tackle,” Peters said at news conference on Sunday. “He left big shoes to fill and I’m ready to try to fill those shoes.”

After the trade, the team came to terms on a four-year contract extension worth $53 million with Peters. The 27-year-old, who was upset with his contract in Buffalo, will earn $60 million over the next six years, $25 million guaranteed.

That resulted in the Eagles’ biggest move of the offseason and the biggest trade of Reid’s tenure when they sent a first-round pick (28th overall) and a fourth-round pick (121st overall), plus a second-day pick in 2010 to the Bills in exchange for Peters.

Having already signed free agent right tackle Stacy Andrews from Cincinnati this offseason, Reid is thrilled with his new set of bookends to replace the 34-year-old Thomas and the still-unsigned 35-year-old Jon Runyan.

“You know my feelings on Tra Thomas,” Reid said of the four-time Pro Bowler. “Tra was a phenomenal left tackle here. We had our 75th anniversary team and Tra was the left tackle. You’re talking about the best left tackle in the team’s history.

“But age does take place in this game and Tra played a lot of years here. We needed to replace Tra and we tried to seek out the best left tackle in football. That’s how we went about it.”

There were reports the Eagles were also interested in Carolina left tackle Jordan Gross, who re-signed with the Panthers just before the start of free agency. They were also involved in talks to move up in the draft to select one of the top three tackles.

“There are some very good tackles in the draft,” Reid said. “Those tackles are going to go very high. For you to get from 21 to the top five or six, that’s going to use up quite a bit to get there. Then it’s a 50-50 shot from there.

“We had an opportunity to get somebody who is proven and has done it in this league. … We didn’t feel the compensation there was too great to do at all. We feel like it worked out well for us.”

The Eagles, who had an extra first-round pick from a draft-day trade in 2008, still have the 21st overall selection in Saturday’s draft, plus nine other selections.

And they have another Pro Bowl left tackle.

“It blew my mind, first and foremost, for (the Bills) to trade me,” said Peters, who never demanded a trade, but missed all of training camp last year in an impasse over his contract situation.

“I was thinking about (the contract) some times last year. It didn’t affect me that much. I thought about it some early in the year, but later in the year it wasn’t a big deal.”

His big deal _ $60 million _ came Friday night after he was traded.

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