Timmy Jernigan

Tim Jernigan reportedly heading back to the AFC in free agency

Tim Jernigan reportedly heading back to the AFC in free agency

Former Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is reportedly heading back to the AFC after agreeing to a deal with the Houston Texans.  

Jernigan is the fifth starter from the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning team to move on to a new team this offseason, joining Malcolm Jenkins, Ronald Darby, Nelson Agholor and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. 

The Eagles’ moving on from Jernigan isn’t much of a surprise after the moves they’ve already made this offseason. First, they brought back Hassan Ridgeway on a one-year deal, then they got Javon Hargrave on a three-year deal. That made it pretty clear that Jernigan wouldn’t be returning. 

While we don’t know the real terms of Jernigan’s contract, it seems possible that he might factor into the compensatory pick formula. 

Here’s the updated list of Eagles free agents who have found teams so far: 

Jernigan, 27, arrived in Philadelphia in April of 2017 in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens and became a major part of the Super Bowl season. He was a starter next to Fletcher Cox and was playing very well until he suffered an ankle injury. But Jernigan was still able to start 15 games that regular season and all three playoff games. He earned a four-year extension during that season. 

But that’s when things got strange. 

Jernigan suffered a mysterious back/neck injury during the 2018 offseason and never revealed what happened. That forced him to renegotiate his contract and he was able to play just three games (five including playoffs) in 2018. 

Last year, the Eagles brought in Malik Jackson to start ahead of Jernigan but Jackson got hurt in Week 1, which should have opened the door for Jernigan. But then Jernigan hurt his foot in Week 2. Eventually, Jernigan played in 10 games (9 starts) but he hasn’t been at his best since early in that 2017 run. And even though he’s 27, it’s fair to wonder if his best days are behind him. 

Still, the absence of Jernigan will still be felt. He was a popular guy among his teammates and Jim Schwartz once said Jernigan “means something to our spirit.” 

At the end of the 2019 season, it seemed like Jernigan was already preparing himself for his departure and saying goodbye to Philadelphia. 

“At the end of the day, man, as long as my teammates know that I gave everything I had on Sunday, when those lights turned on, I gave y’all everything I had,” he said after the playoff loss to the Seahawks. “I’m at peace with that. 

“However it turns out with me in this free agency thing, I’m at peace with that. As long as y’all boys know I gave y’all everything I had. The city knows I gave them everything I had. It’s always love from here, from me there’s always love.”

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Eagles rule out 6 players for Sunday’s game in Buffalo

Eagles rule out 6 players for Sunday’s game in Buffalo

The Eagles have ruled out six players for Sunday’s game in Buffalo but it’s likely they’ll get one of their starting corners back. 

First, the players who have been ruled out: 

LB Nigel Bradham (ankle, illness)
WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen)
DT Timmy Jernigan (foot) 
CB Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck)
T Jason Peters (knee)
RB Darren Sproles (quadricep)

No surprises there. None of those players were expected to play on Sunday. All but one missed every practice this week. 

This means those six and one more player — likely Nate Herbig — will make up the inactive group for Sunday, assuming the Eagles bring up one player from the practice squad. 

There was some good news on Maddox on Friday. Doug Pederson said that Maddox has cleared the concussion protocol. Maddox, who hasn’t played since the Green Bay game, was a limited participant in Friday’s practice to end this week. Next weekend is probably a possibility. 

Ronald Darby (hamstring) was a full participant all week. He was active against the Cowboys but didn’t play. It’s likely he’ll be starting across from Jalen Mills this week, with Sidney Jones in the slot. 

“Darby's made really good progress,” Pederson said. “He feels good. He feels healthy. Again, just working himself back into playing shape and football shape is the biggest thing with guys that have missed time. So he's looked good in practice. Excited for his opportunity this weekend.”

The Eagles finished Friday’s practice with just 52 players on their active roster. Pederson hinted that roster spot will be taken by practice squad defensive tackle Bruce Hector.

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Timmy Jernigan bringing ‘contagious energy’ to Eagles’ playoff run

AP Images

Timmy Jernigan bringing ‘contagious energy’ to Eagles’ playoff run

At some point after Sunday’s 16-15 win over the Bears in Chicago, Tim Jernigan celebrated by wearing that black ski mask, he loaned his dorky 50-year-old coach his iced-out Jesus piece and then cheesed hard, gold teeth shining, for a photo. 

This photo. 

Make no mistake about it. Jernigan is a very good football player. And his presence on the football field will certainly help the Eagles win games. But Jernigan brings more than that. 

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz tried to describe it earlier this week: 

He means something to our spirit. He's a guy that has a little bit of a contagious energy. You just see him out on the field. He brings a confidence. He brings a toughness. He has made some big plays for us. 

Jernigan, 26, is healthy now. He was able to play 22 snaps Sunday and said this week that he feels good to know. That’s enough reason to keep him smiling after an offseason when he was unsure of his football future and a season that certainly hasn’t gone to plan. 

So this is just Jernigan back being himself. And his teammates absolutely love his personality. Ask anyone about Jernigan and they’ll tell you that Jernigan just brings some juice to the team. 

I asked Jernigan if it’s a conscious decision to bring energy. His answer was classic Timmy: 

Nah, man. That’s just who I am. I don’t try to be a mascot or nothing like that. I’m a 3-technique, dawg. I ain’t gotta do all that. That’s just who I am. I love football, I love the game. 

I’ve been through some things that I definitely cherish every second that I can on the football field now. Not saying that I didn’t, but I’m a lot more conscious about every time I get on the football field, I need to take advantage of it and stay thankful.

One of those things Jernigan went through was what I alluded to just a bit ago. This offseason, he had surgery on his back for an unspecified injury. He still won’t get into the cause of the injury but has said he was worried he’d never play football again.

So just getting back on the field means a ton to him. He was already a fun, energetic guy before all that. After it? He’s just having fun again with his teammates. 

“Some people have personalities that people gravitate toward,” Chris Long said. “He’s one of my favorite guys to play with on the team. He helps on the field and obviously, his attitude helps as well.” 

The Eagles got Jernigan from Baltimore in a swap of 25 places in the third round. The Eagles used the 99th pick they got back for Rasul Douglas, who has been a big part of the last two seasons. The Ravens drafted DE Chris Wormley with the pick they got. He has started eight games in two years and got his first and only sack this season. 

It didn’t take long for Jernigan to win over his new teammates. He has an infectious personality. On Jernigan’s first day back at practice this season, Pederson made sure to greet him with a giant hug during warmups. Everyone was happy to see him back on the field and he’s meant something to the team since he’s been back. 

I asked Michael Bennett for an example of how Jernigan brings energy and he said he didn’t really have one. 

“Like, he brings energy,” Bennett said. “You can’t see energy. You can just feel it.”

The Eagles are feeling it during this playoff run. And Jernigan will be smiling the whole way.

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