Roundtable: Other Than Jason Peters, Which Eagles Player Has the Best Shot at Reaching the Hall of Fame?
On Monday, the Eagles announced that they had signed left tackle Jason Peters to a new deal for the 2019 season. The deal means that the veteran will return for his eleventh season in midnight green and earn another year of tutelage for future starter Jordan Mailata.
In a career that has already spanned 15 seasons and 197 games, Peters earned the nickname “The Bodyguard” in addition to numerous accolades. Among them are nine Pro Bowl selections, three NFL Top 100 appearances and a number of All-Pro team selections, including three first-team nods from Sporting News, two first-team selections each from Pro Football Focus and the Associated Press and four additional second-team selections from the AP.
During the 2018 offseason, Peters was the only unanimous selection of a group of NFL experts from ESPN. Although he was included on the list that supposedly "didn't include locks" Peters is a lock for the Hall of Fame. There is a chance he doesn't get in on his first ballot, but there is no doubt he will be enshrined in Canton eventually.
With that in mind, some of the writers here at Sports Talk Philly decided to answer the following question:
Jason Peters is a lock for the Hall of Fame. What other player on the Eagles roster has the best chance at making it to the Hall of Fame?
Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
I’m really not looking at anyone still on their rookie deals yet here. That said. there are three players on the Eagles roster that I think I could argue their Hall of Fame chances, but there are two that I believe have a legitimate chance. For me, the decision comes down to Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox.
Kelce has been a top five center for four seasons in a row and the best at his position for the past two seasons, including the best season by a center in two decades when the Eagles won Super Bowl LII. There is no argument that he has the skill to make the Hall of Fame, but he lacks much support. He has only two Pro Bowl nods – and neither came when he was literally the best at his position. He has been the most dominant center in the league and yet, his fellow players have never voted him into the NFL Top 100 list. That, combined with the fact that it took Kelce around four season to round out his game and improve significantly in pass blocking, may be enough to sink his chances. He will need a long career and the Hall of Fame committee to put faith in places like Pro Football Focus, where he consistently receives the highest honors, in order to make it to Canton.
Cox has been completely dominant for five of his seven seasons, but voters will need to look deeper into his candidacy. He doesn’t have the accolades he should, but the league is just taking notice of how dominant he is. Looking into statistics not typically associated with defensive tackles like quarterback pressures and rating from Pro Football Focus will show just how dominant he is. He may not have the run stopping numbers of some other players or the sacks of pure pass rushers, but he is not far behind either as he plays a complete game. He will need a continued dominant career to build a solid case – time which he still has. The presence of Aaron Donald in the league is both a blessing and a curse for Cox. Donald’s dominance is often what ends up highlighting Cox’s rounded out game and showing just how far beyond Cox is beyond the rest of the competition. At the same time, Donald is so far ahead of Cox in all those same areas. Donald is a lock for Canton himself, but will voters recognize the dominance of Cox behind that freak?
Since both require the longevity of continued dominance, my pick would be Cox because he his three years younger and can play fewer snaps in a rotation.
Tucker Bagley, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
It may seem obvious, but Carson Wentz is the right choice here. Through his first three years in the NFL, Wentz has thrown for over 10000 yards and 70 touchdowns. The 26-year-old still has a long way to go, but he probably has the easiest trajectory of anyone on the Eagles roster. Fletcher Cox may have an outside shot at building a candidacy in the second half of his career, but he’s at least 2-3 All Pro nods away from garnering consideration. It’s hard to compare his numbers to those quarterbacks already enshrined in Canton due to the evolution of the game, but Wentz’s health may be the biggest obstacle separating him from the Hall of Fame. He’s produced when he’s on the field and, at the very least, a healthy Wentz should make 6 Pro Bowls and achieve some level of postseason success.
The trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning will be the precedent for how the voting committee rates modern NFL quarterbacks. Roethlisberger is a shoo-in, but are Rivers’ counting stats enough to overshadow his lack of playoff success? And could Manning make it in on the strength of his two Super Bowl rings and longevity, despite being mediocre for most of his career? The answers to those questions will give us a much better understanding of what Wentz will have to achieve during the rest of his NFL career to be worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Matthew Kaplan, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
Outside of Peters, I would argue Derek Barnett is the most likely Hall of Famer on the Eagles roster.
While he hasn’t stayed healthy through his first couple of years, his injuries have not been extremely serious and most of what has held him out has been precautionary reasoning on the part of the Eagles.
As for my reasoning why he could be a Hall of Famer comes down to his resume in college and the comparisons he has drawn to a former fan favorite and Eagles Legend, the late, great Reggie White. While Barnett not only attended the same college as White, he also broke quite a few of White’s collegiate records, not to mention that while healthy he has looked impressive in the NFL.
In his rookie season, he put up 23 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, six sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. In 2018, Barnett was the most consistent player on a star studded line. In just six games with a line hampered by injuries, Barnett tallied 16 tackles, 11 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks.
With the right playing time and some patience Barnett could be the next big thing. Expect him to take a big leap forward in 2019 and prove it.