It wasn’t a groundbreaking or jaw-dropping first day of free agency, but sometimes that’s a good thing. The Eagles went into the day with a plan, and they came out of it with some solid moves. The most noteworthy was the signing of former Saints S Malcolm Jenkins, which fills a massive hole at the safety position. They also decided to re-sign P Donnie Jones and release S Patrick Chung, moves that actually came before the signing of Jenkins. All in all, it was a good first day if you’re an Eagles fan.
Jenkins is a huge pickup, maybe even bigger than some of the guys they were rumored to be looking at. Jenkins agreed to a 3 year, $16.5 million deal with $8.5 million guaranteed. This is an average of $5.5 million per year, and while the official cap hit for 2014 hasn’t been announced, it can be expected to be around that number. In 14 games last year for the Saints, Jenkins had 68 tackles, 2 INTs, and 2.5 sacks. He’s a very talented player that can play either free or strong safety, allowing the Eagles flexibility with where they want to put him. The Eagles tend to move around their safeties anyway, so the fact that he can play either is an advantage. And since it’s a 3 year deal, it should prove to be a long-term option for the position.
The first actual move of the day for the Eagles was the re-signing of P Donnie Jones, who was great for them last year. It may seem unimportant that they signed a punter, but too many guys recently have been inconsistent and unreliable, and punters have the ability to control the game through field position. Jones’ consistency and great ability to pin the ball inside the 20 was very valuable to the team last year. His deal is a 3 year deal for $6 million, a nice price for a very solid punter. The Eagles were unable to sign Jones for anything above the veteran minimum before today, which explains why they waited to make the move until today.
The Eagles also released S Patrick Chung, who only played one year for the team after struggling last year. He’s struggled his whole career with injuries, and last year was no exception. He played in only 12 games and started 10, accumulating 59 tackles and not a single INT. I was one of the people who thought he could be a solid player for their secondary, and he even looked good in preseason, but he was frustrating whether he was injured or healthy and the Eagles chose to let him go. The Eagles will save all of Chung’s $3.25 million cap hit he was expected to have in 2014, which was an unsurprising move to make room for a more expensive and more talented safety (aka Jenkins).
Even with these moves made, it still is likely that they’ll continue to make moves in the next few days. They still have about $20 million in cap space, even after the transactions today, so it’s still more than enough to make another big signing. Most of the safeties have already been signed, including both Antoine Bethea and Mike Mitchell (who I speculated that they might sign), but they’ve said to still have interest in CBs Nolan Carroll and Corey Graham as well as OLB Mike Neal. Deals may not come till later, but more are bound to happen. By the way, what about DeMarcus Ware, who was released today by the Cowboys? I’d have no problem signing him and trading Trent Cole for a pick, but that’s just me. As of now, it doesn’t seem like there’s any confirmed interest between Ware and the Eagles. But it’s worth consideration…