Eagles with the most to prove this offseason

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Timmy Jernigan

Jernigan doesn’t appear to be a happy Bunny…and who can blame him? After his monster contract was eradicated and he was cut from the team after an offseason injury cost him the majority of 2018, the Super Bowl 52 champion came back to the Eagles on a deal worth just $1.5m. Ouch. But, he didn’t have to sign…and he knew the situation when agreeing terms. If it’s playing time he’s unhappy about, he really does have a lot to prove.

The Eagles signed Malik Jackson during the offseason and notably traded for Hassan Ridgeway on day three of the NFL Draft. Snaps, it would seem, are going to be hard to come by from a man who was formerly a staple of the defensive line.

If Jernigan is healthy, then there’s no questioning he deserves the monster payday he was once owed. But it’s proving that he truly is, that’s going to be the story of the offseason.

Sidney Jones

I wrote last week about how this is an ‘all-or-nothing’ season for Sidney Jones, and I stand by that. Drafted in the second-round of the NFL Draft after an Achilles injury at his pro day saw his stock plummet, Jones was supposed to be a diamond in the rough and an heir to the CB1 throne. In his second season after an impressive 2017 week 17 debut, he played as the starting nickel corner, with mixed success. Was the injury still nagging Jones, perhaps hurting his fluidity, or did the Eagles really want to ease him back into the fray? Either way, the season ended with yet another injury for Jones.

With such a talented cornerback group, Jones has to stand out. If we’re talking about the nickel spot, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Avonte Maddox will both be pressuring him heavily throughout. If we’re talking an outside role, the numbers only increase. It’s not only imperative that Jones stays healthy, but that he can prove to the Eagles coaching staff that he’s ready to step up.

At the end of the day, Darby and Mills are both free agents next year and the Eagles need to find the future of the cornerback position. if Jones can’t be relied upon, this could be the beginning of a very problematic two seasons.

Cody Kessler

He’s only just signed with the team, but the pressure is on for Cody Kessler. A former third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, Kessler has played in 17 games in his three-year career, starting 12 (winning 2 games). Completing 64% of his passes, passing for 8 touchdowns and 5 picks, he has become somewhat of a game manager, which is what maybe led him to Jacksonville to begin with.

Kessler is very much a grading scale for Nate Sudfeld. We haven’t seen Sudfeld start in a regular season NFL game just yet, but preseason signs have been encouraging. Kessler, at 25 years old, has over a full season’s worth of starting experience and should be a fringe starter. But this is now catch 22.

If Sudfeld keeps his QB2 role (as expected), then is this not a knock on the career of a former third-round pick who in a black-and-white scenario, should outperform Sudfeld? Kessler has to rip up the preseason as an audition. If he can’t show he’s significantly better than the current Eagles backup, then his future as an NFL quarterback could be fairly limited. Why would a team take a shot on Kessler if he isn’t good enough to beat out Sudfeld? That has to be the mentality here. Even if Sudfeld should have a lock on the QB2 spot, Kessler has to shine and steal the spotlight if he is to keep his reputation as a ‘fringe starter’ alive.

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