10 observations from Day 1 of NFL free agency

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10 observations from Day 1 of NFL free agency

Ten observations from the first few hours of free agency, which saw 26 players change teams and 26 billion tweets sent out.

1. The Malcolm Jenkins backlash really surprised me. My Twitter feed hated the signing, and things got so crazy Tuesday evening that one follower actually posted that Jenkins is no better than Patrick Chung. Come on now. Jenkins is 26, durable, smart, versatile, started for a Super Bowl team, good locker room guy, good value. One of his strengths at 6-foot is his ability to line up and cover a tight end, something the Eagles have struggled with over the years. Is he a superstar? No. But you’re not going to have a superstar at every position, and for the Eagles, it was all about upgrading at safety. Jenkins is an upgrade. A significant one. This is like the Connor Barwin signing. Everybody talked about how his level of play dropped off in Houston in 2012, but once the Eagles got him in their system, and we actually saw him play, he turned out to be a heck of an addition. I expect the same from Jenkins this year. I think we’ll look back at this as a solid move.

2. As for Jairus Byrd, extraordinary talent, but I’d be skittish giving a guy with chronic plantar fasciitis $28 million guaranteed, which the Saints did. When you sign a player to a long-term, multi-million-dollar deal with a huge guaranteed bonus, you’re making a long-term commitment to that player, so it’s not just where will he be in 2014 or 2015 but where will he be in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Byrd is very good, but he’s not the fastest guy out there, and he’s not the healthiest. I think the Saints overpaid.

3. DeMarcus Ware is an intriguing name, but I’d tread carefully when adding a 31-year-old guy who’s been banged up and whose production has declined from 19½ sacks in 2011 to 11½ in 2012 to a career-low six in 2013. The Eagles are all about being young, healthy and fast, and I’m not sure Ware is any of those things right now. From 2006 through Week 8 of 2012, Ware had 100½ sacks in 104 games. In his last 21 games, he has 8½ sacks (or one more than Brandon Graham). It would be fun seeing Ware sack Tony Romo a few times a year, but I just don’t like the way he’s trending. If all the medicals came back totally fine? I’d make an exception to the 30-year-old rule. When he’s right, he’s an All-Pro. And we all know how desperately the Eagles need a pass rusher. But I’d have to be really convinced he’s healthy to make an offer.

4. What about Darrelle Revis? Tough call. He’s about the same age as Nnamdi Asomugha was when the Eagles signed him from the Raiders, and he’ll be joining his third team in three years. So there are a couple red flags. But Revis is still a tremendous player, and if the numbers aren’t too outlandish, I’d be intrigued. The Eagles already have Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher? So what. Adding Revis to their secondary would instantly make the them better. He’s 29 and has been hurt -- notably with the ACL in 2012 -- but he played at a high level last year in Tampa. What about the Eagles’ philosophy of only going after young, healthy, ascending free agents? Like with Ware, I’d make an exception for Revis, if the numbers are workable. With Revis, I doubt the numbers would be workable.

5. It’s going to fall under the radar, thanks to everything else going on Tuesday, but re-upping Donnie Jones was huge. He’s a human field-position flipper. Think about 33 punts inside the 20 but only eight touchbacks. That’s insane. Important move.

6. It will be interesting to see if anybody signs Chung. I just can’t imagine a team watching his 2013 film and saying, “Hey, I want this guy.” If Chung doesn’t join another team, the Eagles will have to pay him the $1 million guaranteed portion of his $3.25 million 2014 base salary. If he does go somewhere else, the Eagles are only responsible if he signs for less than his guarantee. They would be on the hook for the difference.

7. If you made a list of the five worst safeties in Eagles history, Chung wouldn’t be the worst. That honor would go to Erik McMillan, a one-time Pro Bowler with the Jets who Rich Kotite signed to a $1.3 million contract with a $500,000 signing bonus to replace the popular and productive Wes Hopkins in 1993. McMillan lasted six games before getting jettisoned. He flat couldn’t play. But Chung would be second. Then who? Matt Stevens? Jarrad Page? Sean Jones? Jaiquawn Jarrett? A lot of candidates. Too many recent ones.

8. Would be great to see Michael Vick sign with the Jets and be reunited with Marty Mornhinweg, Vick’s offensive coordinator during his resurgent 2010 Pro Bowl season. I know Vick has gotten hurt the last three years, but I still think he has one last good run in him. Maybe I’m dreaming. Vick turns 34 this summer, and he’s 12-19 in his last 31 starts. I’d just like to see him get one more chance to lead a team, and maybe things will turn out differently.

9. Interesting how few offensive skill guys have signed so far. Seems like there’s a real premium on defense this year, and that’s a direct result of the way the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and how that team was built. It’s also a reminder of just how strong the draft is with receivers. Why sign a free-agent receiver when you can get an equivalent guy a lot cheaper in the draft?

10. Most overpaid guy on Day 1? The Raiders signed offensive lineman Rodger Saffold to a five-year deal worth $8.5 million per year. Saffold has never made a Pro Bowl team and hasn’t started more than 10 games since 2010. Just wow.

After getting letter from Eagles, Sidney Jones had 'feeling it would be Philly'

After getting letter from Eagles, Sidney Jones had 'feeling it would be Philly'

Sidney Jones had a feeling he would become an Eagle this weekend. He read it in a letter.  
 
The Washington corner was once thought to be a first-round pick; the Eagles were even considering him with their 14th pick (see story).
 
But at his school's pro day March 11, Jones suffered a devastating Achilles tear that dropped him out of the first round and right to the Eagles in the second round. They took him with the 43rd pick Friday night.

Jones thought there was a good chance he'd land in Philly because of a handwritten letter he received after his injury from Eagles senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch, who was in attendance at the pro day when Jones suffered the injury on one of the last drills.
 
"I thought it was pretty awesome," Jones said about the letter on a conference call with Philly reporters less than an hour after the pick. "Just from there, I knew they still had interest. … I had a feeling deep down. My agents were telling me stuff and I just had a feeling it would be Philly."
 
Jones, 20, said he received a few text messages from other teams, "but nothing like a handwritten letter."
 
Howie Roseman said the Eagles expect Jones to make a full recovery, but wouldn't give a timeline for his recovery.
 
"It's just a roadblock," Jones said. "It's going to be a good story at the end of my career. I'll look back at it as a positive. That's just how I'm viewing everything."
 
The Eagles are unsure if Jones will be able to play this season and despite tweeting that doctors told him he'd be ready for the 2017 season, Jones on Friday night said his plan lines up with that of the organization.
 
Even though he'd obviously like to play this season, he won't put himself in a situation that could lead to further injury.
 
"When do I expect to be back?" Jones said. "The plan is to not rush back at all. We're going to take it slowly … we're not going to rush anything. Of course, I would like to play as soon as possible, but there's no rushing."
 
Jones said it was an indescribable feeling when he got a call on his cell phone from a Philadelphia area code. As the Eagles' coaching staff passed around the phone at the NovaCare Complex, Jones talked to all of them as tears welled up in his eyes.
 
Throughout the entire process, Jones has been incredibly positive, at least in public. He credited his family for being his support system.
 
On Friday night, he chose to look at the positives: he still got drafted and he's still going to a team that really wants him.
 
After the injury, did he ever doubt his future?
 
"I don’t think there was a moment of doubt at all," Jones said. "I’m being honest with that. I’ve seen players come back from injury. … I’ve never had surgery, so this is like my first big injury. So, just looking forward to battling this and getting back and getting on the field."

Eagles draft CB Sidney Jones with 2nd-round pick (43rd overall)

Eagles draft CB Sidney Jones with 2nd-round pick (43rd overall)

Eagles Draft Tracker

The way the Eagles look at it, they've selected two of their 14 favorite players despite having just one first-round pick.

The Eagles selected promising but injured Washington cornerback Sidney Jones with the 43rd pick in the draft Friday evening.

"When we started this process, he was one of the guys we were talking about with the 14th pick in the draft," Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said.

"Great character, great player. The injury was a factor here, but we spent a lot of time with our doctors … talking about this situation. For us, it's about what we believe this kid brings to our football team moving forward.

"To get two of our top 14 players in the whole draft? We thought it was a really good opportunity for our football team. … He's a difference maker at cornerback. That's something we've been looking for."
  
Jones, originally projected as a first-round pick, dropped out of the first round when he tore an Achilles tendon during his pro-day workout in mid-March.
 
Jones, who stands 6-foot, 180 pounds, underwent surgery and has said he expects to be healthy and ready to play at some point during the 2017 season.

"We anticipate a full recovery," Roseman said. "We don't know the timetable, but we believe he can be an impact player for us when we do get him on the field."
 
Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss, 145 tackles in 40 career games.

He was the third member of Washington’s secondary to be selected in Friday’s second round. Corner Kevin King went No. 33 overall to the Packers and safety Budda Baker was the No. 36 pick overall to the Cards.

"The steal of the draft," King told CSN's John Clark of Jones. "He could've been a top 10 pick."
 
Eagles senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch was at Jones' pro day when he got hurt and immediately called Roseman and let him know that not only had Jones gotten injured but he had a tremendous workout before the injury.
 
Roseman said the Eagles' medical team studied numerous players from football and other sports who suffered similar injuries to measure their recovery timetable and determine what Jones' chances of a full recovery were.
 
"Our doctors and training staff not only looked at corners, but we reached out to teams in other sports," he said. "That gave us a lot of confidence here.
 
"There's no insurance for this, but we feel really confident that with our medical team when he gets here he's going to be able to be the exact same player he was before the injury."
 
When will we see Jones on the field?
 
"There'll be no rushing back from this," Roseman said. "We'll do whatever's in the best interest of getting Sidney Jones 100 percent. Whatever the timetable is. We'll defer to the doctors. That will not be our decision."
 
Jones is only the second cornerback the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds in the last six years. They drafted Eric Rowe in the second round in 2015 but traded him to the Patriots, where he became a starter last year and won a Super Bowl ring.
 
Before Rowe, the last time the Eagles spent a pick in the first two rounds on a cornerback was 2002, when they took Lito Sheppard in the first round.
 
The Eagles cut ties with both of their starting cornerbacks from last year, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. They signed journeyman Patrick Robinson this offseason and return Jalen Mills, who was their third corner last year.
 
The Eagles ranked second-to-last in the NFL last year allowing 27 pass plays of 30 yards or more.
 
"We just got a first-round talented corner and he's somebody that as Howie alluded to we're not going to rush," head coach Doug Pederson said. "(We're going to) make sure he's 100 percent before we put him out on that football field. This kid is dynamic. He's extremely special on the field."
 
The Eagles have addressed the defense in each of the first two rounds, taking defensive end Derek Barnett at No. 14 overall and Jones in the second round.
 
This is the first time since 2012 the Eagles have gone defense with their first two picks. They took Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks in the first two rounds.
 
Jones is the first University of Washington player the Eagles have drafted since defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim in the third round in 2010 and the first they've taken in the first two rounds since center Ray Mansfield in the second round in 1963.
 
Washington had a home game the day before the Eagles played the Seahawks in Seattle this past fall, and Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, in town for the Eagles-Seahawks game, saw Jones in person that day.
 
"They played against Arizona State, and the entire secondary played well," Douglas said.
 
"The thing that jumps out most about Sidney is his length, his feet. Very smooth mover, can easily flip his hips, can carry guys down the field.
 
"He's very instinctive, very route-aware. He has a really good gauge on what the receivers are going to do on the top of their routes. I think he has ideal ball skills."