According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could miss up to six months after undergoing surgery on a herniated disc in his back. That time frame would take us up until November, just over halfway through the regular season.
Eagles’ starting DT Timmy Jernigan underwent surgery on a herniated disc in his back last week and is expected to be out four-to-six months, league sources tell @FieldYates and me.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 3, 2018
Originally a second-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, Jernigan was acquired by the Eagles in a trade prior to the 2017 Draft in exchange for a third round pick. The idea? To replace Bennie Logan with a run-stopper with an incredibly high ceiling who can play his way to a new deal.
Jernigan did just that after the Eagles signed the former Florida State run-stopper to a long-term deal back in November last year. He ended his first year in Philly with 29 tackles but burst out of the gate early. Through nine games, he had 10 QB hurries, 5 QB hits and 1.5 sacks. An ankle injury looked to slow his progress, but it didn’t stop him from being one of the team’s biggest defensive standouts.
This will obviously sting the Eagles. One of the big reasons why their pass-rush was so dominant was thanks to Jernigan relieving the weight of double teams faced by Fletcher Cox. The team will be forced to turn to the likes of Destiny Vaeao, a former UDFA who has appeared in 27 games for the Eagles, or last year’s draftee, Elijah Qualls, to make an impact during preseason and prove themselves worthy of a potential starting role.
However, Jernigan did post this to Instagram yesterday, a somewhat inspiring statement from the former Raven.
Adam Schefter’s article on the situation, published on ESPN, also cites that the Eagles have reworked the contract Jernigan signed with the team back in November.
The injury easily could have ended Jernigan’s time in Philadelphia, with the Eagles releasing him and declining to pay him being that he suffered the injury during an off-season workout in March. But in a generous gesture, the Eagles reworked his contract and now will pay him $3 million guaranteed this season, but no longer will be liable for the $11 million guaranteed that was due next season, as part of the four-year $48M extension he signed after being acquired in a trade with Baltimore.
Jernigan underwent the back surgery last week with Dr. Robert Watkins, per a source.
Under terms of the new contract, the final three years of Jernigan’s deal are now option years, with Jernigan scheduled to make $11M in 2019, $12M in 2020 and $12M in 2021, as was the case under the previous terms, however none of that money is now guaranteed.
The injury is obviously a substantial one. Herniated discs aren’t exactly a strained muscle and can dent a player’s production and more importantly wellbeing for a very long time. The Eagles clearly still want Jernigan around and restructuring his deal to give them more optionality and still keeping him onboard was of mutual interest. But after signing him to that huge $48M extension, none of the $26M guaranteed money will have that label looming over it. This is not only HUGE for the Eagles in terms of future cap space and giving them optionality, but it also gives them windows, as Schefter mentions to part ways with Jernigan. The team may still be looking for Fletcher Cox’s franchise running-mate after all.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports