Philadelphia Eagles with and without long-term contracts praise Tim Jernigan deal
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham, who isn’t signed beyond this season, said he’s happy teammate Tim Jernigan earned a big contract. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
PHILADELPHIA — Shortly after news broke last week that Tim Jernigan signed a four-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $48 million, keeping him tied to the team through the 2021 season, Fletcher Cox reached out to his teammate.
“Fletch was probably the first person to call,” Jernigan said Monday in the Eagles locker room, after reporters and cameramen swarmed him to discuss the deal. “He was just congratulating me and letting me know that good things are in store.”
Cox’s enthusiasm makes sense. He and Jernigan have created a fearsome defensive tackle tandem in their first season playing together for the Eagles, who own an NFL-best 8-1 record, and they now know they’ll remain together for the foreseeable future.
With a massive deal worth nearly $103 million in total, Cox is signed with the Eagles through 2020. And he won’t have to worry about who will start alongside him for the next few seasons.
“I’m not wondering in the offseason, like, ‘Oh, who is this new guy they’re bringing in next year?'” Cox said. “Now that Timmy’s here, it’s boots and saddles.”
Across the locker room and about 20 feet further down a row of locker stalls from the scene where media gathered to chat with Cox and Jernigan, another player smiled and offered his take on the contract. Linebacker Nigel Bradham considers Jernigan a close friend — they played together at Florida State before reuniting in Philly — and he said he was thrilled for the 295-pound defensive tackle.
But Bradham’s long term outlook is far different from Cox’s. Bradham’s on the final season of a two-year deal worth $7 million, and though he’s been a defensive linchpin throughout the Birds’ ascent to the top of the NFC standings, the team has made no commitment to him beyond this campaign.
Still, Bradham gushed about Jernigan on Monday.
“I’m happy, man,” he said. “I’m excited for my boy. That’s well deserved for what he does, and the work he’s put in over all these years. He’s definitely a first-rounder in my book. He deserves everything he gets, man. The guy works hard, comes to work every day. He’s going to motivate and disrupt the game.”
Bradham’s words underscore a theme to Philly’s strong start this season: the camaraderie on a team that seemed splintered less than two years ago, when the Eagles fired coach Chip Kelly and replaced him with Doug Pederson.
But the sentiment also hints at a potential storyline of the offseason. No matter how the rest of 2017 plays out, the Birds face a slew of challenging decisions as several key players look ahead to potential free agency. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Patrick Robinson and running back LeGarrette Blount are playing on one-year contracts, and like Bradham, they aren’t tied to the Birds beyond this season.
The situation looms as the team gears up for a playoff push, but Bradham declined to discuss his future Monday. He wanted to keep the focus on his former Seminoles teammate.
“I enjoyed playing behind [Jernigan] in college, and I enjoy playing behind him now,” Bradham said. “It’s just great to see guys having growth and becoming something they always wanted to be.”
The question now is whether Bradham and other Eagles will follow Jernigan’s path and reap the rewards they desire.
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