Eagles Punter Donnie Jones Retires
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There are worse ways to go out that on top.
That seems to be the thinking of Eagles punter Donnie Jones, who has decided to retire after 14 productive seasons in the NFL, the last of which resulted in a Super Bowl LII championship with Philadelphia.
Originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in back in 2004, Jones went on to become a two-time All-Pro punter in St. Louis and ended up kicking in 214 regular-season games, the final 80 with the Eagles.
Jones finished his career with a 45.5 gross average on 1,110 punts and leaves the City of Brotherly Love as the franchise's all-time leader in both gross punting average (45.37) and net average (40.5). He also owns the team records for most career punts inside the 20 (138), most single-season punts inside the 20 (34, 2014) and best net punting average in a season (41.6, 2015).
“After 14 seasons in the NFL, I have decided to retire so that I can spend more time with my family,” Jones explained. “I am grateful for all those who have supported me throughout the years. Specifically, I would like to thank Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and the entire Eagles organization for allowing me to be a part of their family for the past five seasons."
Jones arrived in Philadelphia as a free agent in 2013 after spending the 2012 season with Houston. Prior to punting for the Texans, he was with the Rams (2007-2011), Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and Seahawks (2004).
Jones is the longest tenured Eagles punter with 80 regular-season contests and ends his career with 208 game ironman streak, third in the NFL behind fellow punter Shane Lechler (254) and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (235).
“We want to congratulate Donnie Jones on reaching the pinnacle of his career and retiring as a Super Bowl champion," the Eagles said in a statement. "Donnie is a professional in every sense of the word and we wish him all the best in retirement. We owe much of our recent special teams success to Donnie, as evidenced by the numerous franchise punting records he set during his five-year run with the Eagles. We will miss Donnie’s ability on the field, but will also miss his enthusiastic personality and the daily commitment he made to engaging with our community and our fan base.”
The heir apparent to Jones could be Cameron Johnston, an undrafted free agent last year out of Ohio State. Johnston was with the Eagles through training camp last year and was brought back on a futures deal.
From a salary-cap standpoint Jones was set to count for $1.875 million in 2018 and the Eagles will gain $1.625M of that back in space. If Johnson wins the job his salary will only be $480,000 next season so the real savings at the position would be $1.145M.
As for Jones, who will turn 38 in July, he has the opportunity to put the punctuation on his storybook ending and did exactly that.
"I will truly miss my teammates, coaches, friends and the best fans in the NFL," he said. "Although I am retiring, I will always be an Eagle and will forever have a special place in my heart for the city of Philadelphia. It is a great honor to be a part of the first Super Bowl championship team in Eagles history and there is no better way to finish my career.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen