The Eagles took a major gamble during the 2017 draft, selecting Sidney Jones in the second round.
But any good gambler knows when to cut his losses.
Howie Roseman did that on Saturday when, after three disappointing and injury-filled seasons, he cut Jones, the player the Eagles hoped would develop into a star in the NFL.
Had that happened, had Jones become a star, Roseman and the front office staff would have looked like geniuses. Instead, their gamble proved to be a miscalculated one.
“For us, we are going to be aggressive and we are going to take some chances,” Roseman said on Saturday afternoon, “and then if we are wrong when we do those things, we have to learn from it. We have to figure out why they didn't work and try to get better.”
There was always plenty of risk associated with taking Jones. Once though to be a no-doubt first-round pick, Jones tore his Achilles during the Washington pro day, which precipitated the fall to the Eagles at 43. The Eagles understood that 2017 would basically be a redshirt season, but Jones was just 21 and they were confident he’d eventually be able to return from the Achilles injury and become a star player.
That obviously never happened.
Jones, in three seasons with the Eagles, played in 22 games with eight starts. At times, he looked like he had potential. He even made some huge plays at the end of games for the Eagles last season.
But overall he never lived up to his potential and struggled to stay healthy. Did his Achilles injury lead to the rash of soft tissue injuries he’s had in his career? We’ll never know. What we do know is it’s hard to turn into a starting corner from the trainer’s table. This offseason, Roseman said it was time for Jones to prove it and then Jones missed most of training camp with another injury.
On Saturday, Roseman said the Eagles have to learn from their mistakes.
So what are the lessons from the Sidney Jones Experiment?
“Well, you know, I don't think it's fair to just specifically talk about Sidney,” Roseman said before giving an answer that fits the Jones situation awfully well.
“I think that what I look at is that it's hard enough to hit on draft picks that when you get guys that maybe have preexisting conditions or things that they come into the league with, you're already decreasing the odds of something. …
“I think for us, you want to take some chances. You want to be aggressive on talent at times but you also have to weigh that with other factors, and I think when you talk about Sidney, he wants to be a really good player. Unfortunately when you look at what happened this training camp, we didn't have a much — as much opportunity to evaluate him as we would have liked to."
Based on that answer, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles taking a gamble this big again in the near future. Is it worth it to use a late-round pick on a guy who fell for injury concerns? Yeah, it is. But the boom-bust nature of picking a guy like Jones was a high-stakes gamble.
Roseman on Saturday wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back Jones in some capacity. Maybe he’ll wind up on the practice squad, although maybe it’s better for these two sides to simply part and go their separate ways.
Jones didn’t make the team on Saturday because he didn’t deserve to. Perhaps he’ll go elsewhere and eventually turn into the type of superstar the Eagles hoped they were getting with the 43rd pick in the 2017 draft.
I just wouldn’t bet on it.