It was really just a formality, but the Eagles are reportedly not picking up Tim Jernigan’s option for the 2019 season, according to ESPN.
This is the least surprising development of the offseason.
Jernigan, 26, was scheduled to have a cap hit of $13 million (and a salary of $11 million) if the Eagles kept him on his current contract. That was absolutely never going to happen. This move will save the Eagles $7 million in cap space, but there will be $6 million in dead money from his remaining signing bonus money that was spread out over the course of his contract.
This was a no-brainer.
During the 2017 season, the Eagles signed Jernigan to a four-year extension, but the guarantees were sucked out of that deal when Jernigan suffered a mysterious back injury away from the team facility last offseason. That created a situation where the subsequent years of the deal became team option years.
Jernigan began the 2018 season on NFI and played in just five games (including the playoffs).
The Eagles got Jernigan during the offseason between 2016 and 2017 in a trade from the Baltimore Ravens.
I suppose there is a chance the Eagles could bring Jernigan back to a cheaper deal, but he’ll be able to test the open market when he officially becomes a free agent at 4 p.m. on March 13.
I’m not sure what kind of market there will be for Jernigan. When he was at his best early in 2017, he was a really good player. But he struggled down the stretch that year and then suffered that serious injury he feared might have been career-ending. In some ways, it was a pleasant surprise that he was able to play at all last season.
It’s a shame the Jernigan situation didn’t work out because early in the 2017 season, he looked like an ideal complement to Fletcher Cox.
Without Jernigan, the Eagles are again very light at defensive tackle. All-Pro Fletcher Cox is still under contract for several more seasons, but is now reportedly recovering from his own offseason surgery. After Cox, the Eagles are down to Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector because 35-year-old Haloti Ngata is set to become a free agent.
The Eagles lacked a consistent player next to Cox for most of the 2018 season.
The good news for the Birds is that this is an extremely deep class of defensive linemen and they should have a chance to find an immediate plug-and-play replacement in an early round if they choose to do so.