It all seemed a little too quiet to be an Eagles offseason! The Eagles have officially announced that they’ve acquired Ravens DT Timmy Jernigan and swapped third round picks with the team, moving back 25 spots to the 94th overall pick.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) April 4, 2017
Here are five takeaways from the trade and an idea of what it could mean for the Eagles moving forward.
Jernigan was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft and is still only 24-years old. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, the former Ravens starting defensive tackle is fighting for the security of his NFL future..like every other acquisition so far. Brandon Williams received a five-year deal worth $54M, signaling the end of the line for Jernigan..but at 24-years old, the ceiling is still incredibly high. Two words sum up this deal from Jernigan’s standpoint…prove it.
Defensive tackle depth:
After losing Bennie Logan to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles were left with a tandem of Beau Allen and Destiny Vaeao to partner Fletcher Cox in 2017. With the Eagles most prominent run stopper out of the equation, it seemed almost certain that they would seek to add another through the draft. However, Jernigan could be the perfect short-term solution until a starter develops beneath the surface.
At 6’2, 300 lbs, Jernigan set a career high in sacks last season, starting in 15 games for the Ravens and playing in all for the first time in his tenure. After emerging as a dominant run stopper for Baltimore, it seemed clear that there would be a big payday at the end of his rookie contract..but with the Ravens signing Williams, the usage wouldn’t be there. With that lifeline gone, Jernigan now lands in Philadelphia..a team where low-risk, high-reward is the name of the game..and ruthless motors and work ethics are the driving force behind it.
It’s unlikely that the Eagles will be able to retain Jernigan’s services after 2017 should be break out in Schwartz’s scheme..given the abundance of players in the same boat. But what it does provide, is some breathing room when it comes to building the roster, the presence of a starter..and an incredibly low hit on the salary cap (just $1.4M) for such a talent.
The pick swap:
Also included in the deal, was a third-round pick swap. The Eagles have moved back 25 spots in the middle round of the draft..essentially trading away that spot for the services of a starting defensive tackle. The chain of free agent signings to prove-it deals not only cement a “best player available” mentality early on, but potentially throughout the entire draft. Key holes are being filled with players who could very easily emerge as clear starters..leaving the Eagles to base their picks on talent as opposed to drafting by need, a mistake made in years gone by. I think it goes without saying that they will still add some DL depth of some kind..but it’s certainly an exciting time to be an Eagles fan.
A Baltimore Bond:
This trade has the fingerprints of Joe Douglas written all over it. The man behind this year’s draft board was still with the Ravens at the time of drafting Jernigan in the second round, so if there is anybody that knows just how explosive he can be, it’s Douglas. It’s clear the Eagles needed a legitimate starter after the departure of Bennie Logan..and the tie to Joe Douglas may have swung the pendulum into the Eagles favor, or at least planted the seed in the mind of Howie Roseman.
Is rotation the name of the game?
With 14 sacks in three years, it’s clear that Jernigan has already proved himself in the NFL and established a firm reputation. But Bennie Logan wasn’t exactly Mr Nobody..and found the duo of Vaeao and Allen playing in over 60% of defensive snaps. A DT effort by committee could not only cause constant headaches for opposing linemen, but also take some of the attention away from Fletcher Cox, who was zoned in on consistently by coordinators, hampering his progress in 2016. It’s just a loose thought and I’m sure the Eagles will add more bodies through the draft and beyond..but it’s an idea that could certainly add that unexpected explosiveness that the trenches lacked toward the end of last year.
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports