Jalen Mills is back with the Eagles on a one-year deal for 2020 but he isn’t coming back as a pure corner. He’s going to be more of a hybrid player this upcoming season.
In an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on Wednesday, Mills said his role will be “something similar” to the role Malcolm Jenkins had with the Eagles over the last several seasons.
Mills knows those are enormous shoes to fill.
That’s going to be big bro forever,” Mills said about Jenkins. “I think as far as expectations, his name holds the weight. He’s a Philly icon, Philly legend, I feel like his jersey should probably get retired there. As far as people saying that (replacing Jenkins), I know for sure it’s going to be a really, really big target on my back.
It’s hard to imagine the Eagles simply asking Mills to replace all that Jenkins did for the team in recent years. So while Mills’ role will be a more versatile one going forward, don’t expect a simple plug-and-play here.
Mills said after the Eagles let Jenkins walk and re-signed him, he and Jenkins communicated through text messages. Mills thanked Jenkins, who is heading back to New Orleans, for teaching him how to be a leader.
Mills, 25, first learned about the Eagles’ plan to play him at safety this offseason through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Howie Roseman relayed the information to Rosenhaus, who relayed it to Mills around the time of the Senior Bowl or NFL Combine.
Then the Eagles and Mills agreed to a one-year contract worth $4 million.
As Mills understands it, in his new role he’ll be a Swiss Army Knife of sorts. Jim Schwartz might play him at nickel corner or dime linebacker or corner or free safety or strong safety depending on the game plan for the upcoming week.
“I see myself as a Charles Woodson type, a guy who can just play it all,” Mills said. “You can line me up from the left side of the field all the way to the right side of the field.”
For what it’s worth, Mills did play a bunch of different positions during his time at LSU but has been predominantly an outside cornerback since he was drafted in the seventh round back in 2016. He’s had his ups and downs in that role and in the last two seasons has missed nearly as many games as he’s played because of injury.
In addition to bringing back Mills and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles also traded for Darius Slay and agreed to terms with free agents Will Parks and Nickell Roby-Coleman. It seems like the Eagles are stockpiling nickel corners but they have a bunch of guys with position versatility in their new-look secondary.
That, in particular, has Mills excited.
“I think our secondary is going to be very, very dynamic,” Mills said. “We got a lot of guys who can move in a lot of different places. I think that’s the key at this point. You can’t line up in the same looks, you can’t have guys in the same spot. Quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, they latch on and they see that and then you get predictable. I think as far as that goes, our secondary is going to be very, very dynamic.”
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