Jernigan sees a fit with the Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles' new nose tackle introduced himself to Philadelphia on Friday with a golden smile and a shortened name.
Tim Jernigan is now the preferred moniker of the 6-foot-2, 300-pound talented defensive tackle that the Eagles acquired earlier this week by dropping 25 spots in the third round of this month's NFL Draft.
And the former second-round pick is excited about his new home in Jim Schwartz's attacking scheme.
"I've been waiting to play in this type of scheme for a while," Jernigan admitted at the NovaCare Complex.
Jernigan's move wasn't all that unexpected down I-95 in Baltimore where the Ravens were dealing from a position of strength and getting something for a player they didn't think they could sign in 2018 because of the money outlayed to re-sign the anchor of their defense this year, powerful nose tackle Brandon Williams.
Couple with the fact that the Ravens have younger players who they feel can probably handle the five-technique on their defense like Michael Pierce and Carl Davis and viola, you have the recipe for the talented Florida State product on the trading block.
Philadelphia bit in an effort to replace the departed Bennie Logan with a penetrating player that in theory will better fit what Schwartz wants out of his nose tackle.
"I'm excited," Jernigan said. "(Schwartz) told me this is going to be a big year for me. He has big plans for me so we will see."
Although Jernigan wasn't asked to play that kind of attacking role in the Charm City, he did play plenty of one-technique in college at FSU and while he's not going to be mistaken for traditional nose tackles like Williams or Vince Wilfork, Jernigan offers plenty of size and athleticism as a complement to Fletcher Cox, the Eagles' dominating three-technique.
In fact, Jernigan is probably better suited to play closer to the center in a one-gap scheme and if anything was playing out of position in Baltimore as a two-gap player because of the presence of Williams and Pierce, bigger and bulkier players.
Before Jernigan's arrival, Beau Allen was penciled in to replace Logan. Allen, however, is more of a one-dimensional run stuffer best used in a situational role of 20 to 25 reps a game.
Jernigan, meanwhile, is an option who can provide an interior push on the pass rush that Allen simply cannot and even Logan had issues with it, the main reason the Eagles believe Jernigan will be a better schematic fit for far less than the $8 million Logan got in the open market with the Chiefs.
That's also where the trouble ultimately comes in, however.
Yes, Jernigan is set to make just over $1 million in the final year of his rookie deal in 2017 but if he does play how the Eagles envision he will this season, that means Philadelphia will be in the same boat it was when deciding on Logan.
Do the Eagles really want to allocate significant financial assets to two players on the interior of the defensive line, especially when the bill will also be due for others like wide receiver Alshon Jeffery?
Kicking the can down the road, however, gives the Eagles a full year to look at a talented player who will not turn 25 until September, making this an excellent trade at least in the short-term.
"I haven't even though that far," Jernigan said of his next contract. "You know I understand the situation. Right now my mind is on football and winning football games. The money part ...that stuff will figure itself out.
"Keep the main thing the main thing and that's football."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen