Jalen Mills

Eagles Notes: Johnson, Ajayi, Mills

Let’s take a quick look at a few items from the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Eagles starting RT Lane Johnson is in the concussion protocol, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Johnson suffered a head injury during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, and while he tried to play through it, the injury worsened and he was ultimately forced to exit (Twitter link via McLane).
  • The Eagles can ill afford to lose Johnson, arguably the best right tackle in football, as they fight for the NFC East title. But if they are without Johnson for any period of time, they could turn to rookie Andre Dillard rather than veteran Halapoulivaati Vaitai, as McLane tweets.
  • Jay Ajayi finally found an NFL home for 2019 when he signed with the Eagles on Friday. Interestingly, the deal includes a right of first refusal for 2020, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. So if it wants, Philadelphia can match any offer Ajayi receives on the open market, which could be significant if the team lets Jordan Howard walk in free agency.
  • Cornerback Jalen Mills is eligible for free agency this offseason, and while he is not perfect, he has been very good since returning from injury in Week 7, and McLane says Mills may be playing his way into a second contract with the Eagles (Twitter link).
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com believes the Eagles need to completely overhaul their WR corps this offseason, and he offers a few names the club could target in free agency and the draft. He also says the Eagles could find a trade partner for Alshon Jeffery and/or DeSean Jackson, though obviously the returns on either player would be minimal.

Eagles Activate CB Jalen Mills

Jalen Mills is back. The Eagles announced that they’ve activated the cornerback off the PUP list. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Mills will play tomorrow night against the Cowboys.

The former seventh-round was incredibly productive during his first two years in the league, compiling 125 tackles, 21 passes defended, and three interceptions. He was having another standout campaign in 2018 before suffering a foot injury that limited him to only eight games. The injury lingered into the 2019 campaign, and the Eagles were forced to place the defensive back on the PUP prior to the regular season.

Mills will immediately be forced to play a big role for the Eagles with cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) questionable for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Avonte Maddox has also been ruled out for tomorrow. Mills might have to handle the majority of the team’s snaps at corner, something the 25-year-old isn’t nervous about.

“Just go out there and do my job,” Mills said (via Erin McCarthy and Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “I’m not trying to be a superhero. I’m not trying to make any kind of amazing plays. Whatever [defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz calls, line up and do my job, compete like my teammates and coaches know I can.”

“It’s always the mindset, to play the entire game. I think I am [able].”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Players Returning From IR/PUP

Now that we’re approaching the midway point of the regular season, players on various injury lists are now able to begin to return to practice and, eventually, return to game action. Here’s the list of players coming back to practice this week while on injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets:

Players on the PUP list are only required to miss six weeks of the regular season, so every player listed above with the exception of Sternberger could technically be activated this weekend. Sternberger has officially been designated as one of Green Bay’s IR/return players, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Because he was originally placed on IR, Sternberger — a third-round rookie — will be absent for at least two more weeks.

Eagles’ Jalen Mills Set For Return

The Eagles have opened the 21-day practicing window for Jalen Mills, according to head coach Doug Pederson. This means that Mills may return to the 53-man roster off of the PUP list within the next three weeks. 

[RELATED: Connor Barwin Announces Retirement]

Per league rules, the Eagles can put Mills on the active roster at any point between now and then. If he is not activated, he’ll be barred from playing for the rest of this season.

The Eagles haven’t seen Mills in a while – his last appearance came in Week 8 of the 2018 campaign. Since then, he’s been dealing with a serious foot injury. Before all of that, he notched 167 tackles and three interceptions across three seasons with Philly.

Depending on how things go from here, Mills could return this Sunday against the Cowboys, the following week against the Bills, or on Nov. 3 vs. the Bears.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Rumors: Redskins, Mills, Giants

The Redskins’ Jay Gruden-to-Bill Callahan power transfer led to the team making an in-season hire. In elevating assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher to Callahan’s former post, Washington hired Aaron Stamn as an offensive assistant. Stamn worked as an assistant at Liberty University, serving as the Division I-FBS program’s OC from 2012-15. He finished his tenure as the program’s assistant offensive line coach in 2018, and it’s likely he will assume a similar responsibility in Washington. Rauscher was part of the 2015 Broncos’ Super Bowl-winning staff, serving as an offensive assistant. He’s in his second Redskins season.

Here’s the latest from the NFC East:

  • A starter during the Eagles‘ Super Bowl season, Jalen Mills has yet to begin a pivotal season of work. The former seventh-round pick resides on Philadelphia’s PUP list and has not played in nearly a year. Interestingly, the contract-year cornerback said he suffered neither an Achilles tear nor a Lisfranc injury, instead informing the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane he’s endured a severe foot sprain. Mills said he is “close” to returning. He cannot practice until next week, but the Eagles do not immediately have to activate him once he’s eligible to come off the PUP list.
  • Down both Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman tonight, the Giants will work out running back Akeem Hunt on Friday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Hunt began his career as a Giants UDFA in 2015 but is known for his contributions as a Chiefs and Texans backup from 2015-17. Gallman is in concussion protocol, and Barkley appears on the doorstep of returning. Barring another setback, it’s likely Barkley is back for Week 7.
  • The Redskins auditioned several players this week. Wide receivers Simmie Cobbs, Reggie Davis, J’Mon Moore and Jester Weah tried out for the now-Callahan-led team, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Quarterback Amir Hall did as well. Moore was a Packers fourth-round pick just last year. Hall was a decorated quarterback at Division II Bowie State (Md.).

Eagles Reach 53-Man Limit

The Eagles have gotten down to 53, making some notable cuts to get there. The team released guard/center Stefen Wisniewski, who they re-signed to a $1.5MM deal back in May. He had gotten $150K guaranteed, so Philly will eat that. Wisniewski had started at least six games in each of the past three seasons for the Eagles.

To help thin out their crowded running backs room, they got rid of a few well-known names. They waived Josh Adams, who rushed for 511 yards for them last year, as well as 2017 fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey, who has battled injuries ever since entering the league. They also cut Wendell Smallwood, who had 364 yards rushing and three touchdowns and another 230 yards and two touchdowns through the air last year.

Offensive tackle Brett Toth also failed to make the team. Toth only recently got permission from the Army to join the NFL, and he signed with the Eagles only a couple weeks ago. He seems like a prime candidate for a practice squad spot.

Aside from that, and other announced moves, the Eagles made the following roster moves over the weekend to reach the 53-player limit:

Waived:

T Riley Mayfield

G Sua Opeta

TE Joshua Perkins

RB Boston Scott

DT Aziz Shittu (injured)

QB Clayton Thorson

WR Greg Ward

Released the following players:

Reserve/PUP

CB Jalen Mills

Extra Points: CBA, Eagles, Texans

There’s been a lot of talk about the CBA recently, and the potential for a work stoppage when it expires after the 2020 season. We just heard that the owners and players held their first negotiating meetings, and now we have more details on what exactly went down. A handful of owners and members of the NFLPA’s executive committee met for “roughly five hours,” earlier this week, Albert Breer of SI.com was told. Breer describes it as a big deal and writes that it “shouldn’t have flown under the radar.” As Breer points out, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith had said a couple of years ago that a lockout when the CBA expired was a “virtual certainty,” so the fact that they’re having positive conversations this far out is a huge development.

Breer notes that the owners were the ones who initiated this meeting, which is a big departure from when the owners decided to opt out of the CBA years in advance last time around. Overall, Breer describes the meeting as a “good start.” There’s still a long way to go, and the threat of a work stoppage is still a very real possibility, but things don’t seem nearly as dire as they once did. Breer points to the rapidly increasing cap as one thing that may help pacify players in negotiations.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested for his role in a fight earlier today. The team has now issued their response, saying “the Philadelphia Eagles are aware of the situation involving defensive back Jalen Mills and are continuing to gather more information,” adding that “no further comments will be provided at this time.” It’s a fairly standard statement. Mills was hurt for half of last season, but started all eight games he was active for, so it would be a big loss for Philly if he were to miss any time with a suspension.
  • The Texans desperately need offensive line help, as Deshaun Watson was running for his life again last year. To that end, they’re doing their research on this year’s top offensive line prospects. The team brought in Washington offensive tackle Kaleb McGary for a visit today, a source told Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). McGary could go as high as the first round, but could also be a target for the Texans with either of their two second round picks if he slips a little bit.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence was able to get over $20MM annually on his contract extension, and that deal could have a ripple effect across the league. In a recent piece, former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analysts Joel Corry took a look at how Lawrence’s new pact will effect the rest of the big name pass-rushers waiting to get paid. Dee Ford recently settled for a little less, but Lawrence’s deal has now reset the market yet again. Lawrence’s deal “undoes any damage Dee Ford’s may have to the market for highly productive pass rushers in line for new contracts, primarily Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark and Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney,” Corry writes. Corry also writes that Yannick Ngakoue of the Jaguars and Chris Jones of the Chiefs could join them as defensive linemen making $20MM+ annually, saying that those four’s agents “will likely view Lawrence’s deal as the salary floor for their clients.”

Eagles CB Jalen Mills Arrested

Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested last night in Washington D.C. following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, reports Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press (via the Washington Post). The two athletes were charged with disorderly affray, which Fendrich describes as fighting in a public place.

According to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, the two engaged in a verbal altercation that escalated into a fight on the sidewalk. Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight, and he was eventually released before being taken department’s 2nd District station. That will the same location where Mills was ultimately detained.

Mills joined the Eagles as a seventh-round pick back in 2016, and he started throughout the team’s 2017 Super Bowl run. This past season, Mills appeared in only eight games after suffering a foot injury. The 25-year-old finished the season 36 tackles and nine passes defended. Mills is projected to start the season as the team’s third cornerback behind Rasul Douglas and Ronald Darby.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Eagles Place CB Jalen Mills On IR

The foot injury that was expected to shut down Jalen Mills for the season prompted the Eagles to place the third-year cornerback on IR.

Philadelphia will shelve Mills for the rest of the season, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets the team will promote defensive tackle Bruce Hector to its active roster.

Mills joins Ronald Darby as Eagles corners on IR. Clinging to NFC East title hopes going into a crucial game in Dallas, the defending champions aren’t as depleted as they recently were at this position. Sidney Jones returned to the Eagles’ lineup on Monday night. However, Avonte Maddox did not practice this week and is not expected to play. Jones and Rasul Douglas are expected to be Philadelphia’s top corners against the Cowboys.

A 2016 seventh-round pick, Mills has not played since October. Pro Football Focus graded Mills, Jones and Douglas near the bottom of the 2018 cornerback contingent. The Eagles rank 19th in pass defense DVOA. That said, Philly has managed back-to-back wins over NFC East competition — the second of which coming against a more injury-damaged Washington team.

One more season remains on Mills’ rookie contract. Hector is a rookie UDFA who has played in six games this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.