The Eagles made their first moves in free agency Tuesday, re-signing punter Donnie Jones to a three-year deal and releasing safety Patrick Chung.
Jones, coming off arguably the greatest season ever for an Eagles punter, signed a three-year deal, the team announced about 35 minutes into the start of the new league year. The veteran punter’s deal can be worth up to $6 million, according to a league source.
Jones, an 11-year veteran, posted a net average of 40.4 yards per punt last year, the best in franchise history. He also led the NFL with 27 punts downfield without a return and tied for fourth in the league with 33 punts inside the 20-yard line, an Eagles record.
In cutting Chung, who underperformed last year after signing a three-year deal with the Eagles last offseason, the Eagles saved $2.25 million this year ($1 million of his $3.25 base salary was guaranteed) and $3.75 million next year for a total of $6 million. In the past, the Eagles have included an offset clause in the contract to avoid paying the guaranteed money if the player signs for the same, or more, elsewhere.
Chung, who came with a reputation for being injury-prone, played in just 12 games and started just 10 despite winning the starting job in the preseason. He suffered a shoulder nerve injury that hampered his play even when he returned to action and then lost his job to rookie Earl Wolff, a fifth-round pick.
The Eagles are now dangerously thin at safety, with only second-year pros Earl Wolff and Keelan Johnson on the roster. They have reached out to free agent Mike Mitchell, who had a breakout year for Carolina.
Donte Whitner (Browns) and Antoine Bethea (49ers) are off the market already.