Tim Jernigan

Fired-up Tim Jernigan brimming with confidence, motivation and swagger

Fired-up Tim Jernigan brimming with confidence, motivation and swagger

Tim Jernigan’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, which we bring up only to explain how Jernigan was able to nail the impression so dead on. 

On Tuesday, Jernigan was feeling like himself again at OTAs, healthy, disruptive, looking forward to the start of the 2019 season. But that also meant he was in no mood to look to the past, which is a shame because there’s oh so much to talk about. 

“It don’t matter. I’m here,” the 26-year-old defensive tackle said when asked about everything that’s transpired over the past year in his career. Then, he summoned his inner Rosenhaus. 

“Next question.”

The problem for Jernigan was the next question and many of them after that were not topics he was too keen on discussing either, and it’s certainly understandable why he feels that way. When the Eagles traded for Jernigan in 2017, he instantly became a huge part of their Super Bowl team, so much so that he was rewarded with a four-year, $48 million contract during that season. But last spring, Jernigan injured his back in an incident that is still shrouded in mystery. It forced him to miss most of the 2018 campaign and threatened to end his career. It also wiped out the guaranteed money left in that deal. This offseason, the Eagles declined his option to save $7 million in cap savings and then signed Malik Jackson to replace him. 

Jernigan was on the street until the Eagles brought him back at a shockingly low price: A one-year deal worth $1.25 million with a maximum value of $2 million (see story).

There obviously wasn’t a lot of interest in Jernigan around the league, to which he said, “It is what it is.” 

Has this experience given Jernigan a chip on his shoulder? 

“You’ll see in September,” he said. 

Has it motivated him this whole offseason?

“You’ll see in September,” he said. 

I guess we’ll see in September. 

But because of the addition of Jackson and because Fletcher Cox hasn’t gone anywhere, Jernigan certainly doesn’t have his starting spot locked up anymore. It’s more likely he’ll be a part of the rotation, but he could be a big part of it if he really is healthy. When asked how he’s approaching this season without a starting job, guess what he said? Yeah, we’ll see in September. 

One thing is for certain, though. The guy at the end of last season who was just so happy and relieved that his football career hadn’t ended is officially past that point. He’s not happy just being back on the field; he wants to get back to dominating. 

While Jernigan said he’s embraced Jackson and is eager to learn anything he can from the defensive tackle three years his senior, he also said he wasn’t worried about his own time in Philly being over when Jackson signed. 

“I don’t care,” Jernigan said. “I believe in me. I believe in Timmy. Straight up. I believe in Timmy. I hope nobody take that the wrong way.”

Timmy believes in Timmy because Timmy feels good. He said he’s lost 15 pounds of body fat and is understandably feeling much healthier than he did at any point in 2018. He emphatically stated that he was back on the field last year after lifting weights just six times and running just twice. 

He got distressed when a reporter asked him how hard that was. 

“You gotta listen to what I just said,” Jernigan said, pointing out how obvious it was to him. “It speaks for itself, bro. You’ll see the difference in September then. Ask any coach in here, ask any player in here, what Timmy Jernigan look like? I ain’t gotta brag on myself, I ain’t gotta talk on myself. Ask them. I ain’t gotta say one word. It’s on.”

Even when he’s getting ticked off by questions, there’s just something about Jernigan’s energy, his swagger, that separates him. It’s something the Eagles feel when they’re on the field too. It’s why late last season, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz stressed how important Jernigan was to the spirit of their defense. 

On Tuesday, Jernigan said the defense had passion, just like they did in that magical 2017 season. He thinks it’s important they bring the passion and energy every day. A lot of it comes from him, even if he doesn’t want to boast about it. 

“I’m just here to play football, bro,” Jernigan said. “I want to win games. I’m going to play my part and give them my best. Everything I got, I’m going to give it to them. That’s just who I am as a player. If that comes off as ‘he’s the spirit of the defense’ or whatever, then OK, I accept that. 

“I had to go through some stuff, you understand? But I’m confident and I’m happy about how I came out on the other side.”

I guess we’ll see in September. 

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Eagles DT Tim Jernigan fired up for 2019: 'I believe in Timmy'

Eagles DT Tim Jernigan fired up for 2019: 'I believe in Timmy'

Tim Jernigan has had a turbulent time since being part of the Eagles' Super Bowl victory two seasons ago. A mysterious offseason neck injury sidelined the defensive tackle for most of 2018. He was then released by the Eagles at the beginning of this offseason before being brought back at a significantly lower salary. The Eagles also added former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson as Jernigan sat on the free agent market.

Jernigan spoke to the media following the Eagles’ first day of OTAs on Tuesday. He had nothing but positive things to say about the addition of Jackson but was also outspoken about the confidence he has in himself for 2019.

“I believe in me, I believe in Timmy, straight up, I believe in Timmy” he said.

Jernigan seems determined to get back to the same productive form he showed during the Eagles' Super Bowl run.

Eagles bring back Tim Jernigan at a dramatically lower price

Eagles bring back Tim Jernigan at a dramatically lower price

Tim Jernigan is back and with a much lower contract.

The Eagles, who cut ties with Jernigan in March, re-signed the gifted but frustrating 26-year-old defensive tackle on Thursday to a one-year deal.

Exact terms aren’t available yet, but Jernigan will be earning dramatically less than he was scheduled to on his original contract, which would have paid him $11 million this season.

When the Eagles cut ties with him early last month by declining to pick up his option, it cleared $7 million in cap space but cost the Eagles $6 million in dead money.

They still will carry that dead money but won’t have to pay Jernigan like an elite player.

The Eagles initially acquired Jernigan in a trade with the Ravens two years ago this month. After he played very well the first half of the season, the Eagles signed him to a four-year, $48 million contract.

But a mysterious offseason injury that he never publically explained kept Jernigan off the field last year until late November, and he wound up playing only 45 snaps during the regular season and 58 more in the playoffs.

Even when the Eagles cut ties with Jernigan, they never closed the door on him returning, and when he was unable to land the long-term deal he wanted, the Eagles didn’t hesitate to bring him back.

Jernigan, originally the Ravens' second-round pick in 2014, can be a dominating player when healthy, and if he’s able to regain his form from early in 2017, he gives the Eagles terrific depth on the interior of the defensive line along with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson.

Does this change the Eagles’ draft philosophy at No. 25 tonight?

Not at all. This is a very deep defensive line draft, and the Eagles are not going to pass by a potentially elite defensive lineman just because they signed an injury-plagued Jernigan to a one-year deal.

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More on the Eagles