Pending free agent Jalen Mills wants to return, excited by new scheme


Jalen Mills has spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Eagles and he’d like to make it six in 2021.

Mills is a pending unrestricted free agent but would like to return to Philadelphia for next season, he told CBS Sports HQ earlier this week.

“I’m the Green Goblin, man,” Mills said. “I dyed my hair my rookie year going into training camp, I dyed it green, just for the simple fact that the Eagles took a chance on me in the 7th round. I wanted to show my love for the city.

“My first day after I got drafted, I came to Philadelphia, I literally had a fan at a Philly cheesesteak spot tell me, ‘If I was to get cut right now, I would bleed green.’ When you got fans that, passionate, man, why not want to play for them? Why not want to play for an organization that I won a Super Bowl with? I love it. I love it in Philadelphia.”

Mills, 26, played on a one-year, $4 million deal in 2020 as he made the transition from cornerback to safety. The idea was to have Mills replace Malcolm Jenkins but frequent injuries at the cornerback position forced Mills to play both positions in 2020. He wasn’t able to just focus on safety.

Out of LSU, Mills came into the NFL with experience playing corner and safety but it was still an adjustment for him in 2020 after playing four years at corner. He felt like he really started to get a hang of safety starting with the Seattle game on Nov. 30 and was much better down the stretch.


“I was just coming into my own,” Mills said. “It was just getting more fun and more fun.”

If you’re wondering, Mills ended up as ProFootballFocus’s 28th-best safety in the league in 2020. Rodney McLeod came in at No. 22. Overall, he has a decent first year at safety for the Eagles, but it’ll be up to the organization and a new coaching staff to figure out if he fits into the future.

According to PFF, here’s how Mills’ defensive snaps broke down by position in 2020:

Box safety: 329

Free safety: 236

Wide corner: 227

Slot corner: 182

On the line: 39

Under Jim Schwartz, the Eagles often utilized a single-high safety look, but that’s likely to change under new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who has utilized two-high looks during his career and will likely bring that to Philly.

Mills seems excited about the possibility of playing in Gannon’s scheme.

“When you’re talking about a guy like that and you see the scheme that the has, it’s a lot of two-high safety and I’ve actually had a conversation with a couple of guys in the league that I kind of think that’s where the league is going,” Mills said.

“The two-high safety look regardless of if you’re playing a Cover 2 or Cover 4. You don’t want to just have guys line up if you’re in man, one-high safety. … I think when we’re talking about our new defensive coordinator, he does a really, really good job as far as having those two high safety look and then rocking and rolling those guys back and forth just to give guys more opportunities to make plays on the ball and have that quarterback just think one more second as far as what coverage we’re in.”

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