In the weeks building up to the eventual trade by the Baltimore Ravens that sent former second-round defensive end Timmy Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles for a swap of draft picks in the third round, there was a lot of sense that the notion was crazy, but there were also indications from more informed sources that there may be friction between the two parties.
That is, of course, aside from the fact that the Ravens would not likely have been able to re-sign him in free agency next offseason.
But there were games late in the season in which Baltimore would take him off the field in favor of rookie undrafted defensive tackle Michael Pierce, which was something that he was not altogether happy with. And the coaches would not have taken him off the field if they were altogether happy with what they were asking him to do in select situations.
Now, both sides seem to be pretty happy with how things turned out. The Ravens believe they got the value they felt Jernigan was worth, jumping from the compensatory portion of the third round all the way into the top 10, and as for Jernigan, he thinks he can play more to his liking in Jim Schwartz’ more aggressive front.
While the Eagles run a 4-3 front, they allow their defensive linemen to attack more rather than reading the offense and reacting, which is what Jernigan says he was asked to do not only there, but also in college at Florida State.
“I’ve been waiting to play in this type of scheme for a while”, he said. “Last year in Baltimore we started attacking a little bit more and I had my best year, so I’m excited”. He recorded a career-high five sacks in 15 starts in 2016.
“This is the first time ever being told ‘go’”, he told reporters. “I’ll prove my point”. And he will have the assistance of one of the best 4-3 defensive tackles in the league in Fletcher Cox, a former top-10 draft pick who recorded six and a half sacks a year ago, and nine and a half the year before.
It would, of course, be an opportune time for Jernigan to reach his full potential as a pass rusher considering that he is in a contract year and in a new environment, in a new scheme. He currently has 13 sacks in his career, with four apiece in each of his first two seasons in addition to the five of last year. He also recorded his first interception and defended three passes.
It will be interesting to see how Jernigan fares with the Eagles…and frankly, how the Ravens fare without Jernigan. While they may have only been able to retain him for one more season, they don’t really have any other proven commodity that can deliver the sort of pass rush he did.
“I’m pretty confident I can win one-on-ones”, he said about working next to Cox, who draws multiple blockers. “I’m confident I can beat two people sometimes. I think we’re going to complement each other”.