The Eagles Are Pursuing Byron Jones: AS THEY SHOULD
5 March 2020 Philadelphia Eagles
With Free agency in the NFL set to begin on March 18th, and ample room under the salary cap, the Philadelphia Eagles are said to be “all-in” on soon-to-be former Dallas Cowboys Cornerback/Safety, Byron Jones, according to Eagles Insider, Adam Caplan.
Caplan stated that the price for Jones is likely to be around the 17 million dollar per year range, which would make him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL on a per year basis. Following this report, NFL insider, Ralph Vacchiano states that “. . . sources expect Jones will land in Philadelphia”. As with all reports regarding the Eagles, fans and media began to debate whether or not Jones should get that kind of contract from the team. People questioned Jones based on his lack of interceptions, the Eagles failed cornerback signings of the past, and the fact that Jones played for the Cowboys (Yes, really.. that is a reason people do not want him). Jones should 100 percent be pursued by the Eagles.
Lack of Turnovers:
Since Jones has been in the NFL, he has two career interceptions. Looking at raw statistics, fans don’t want to their team to pay a huge contract for a cornerback who does not get interceptions. But lets look deeper. Jones spent his first 27 games of his career at Safety and then prior to 2018 was asked to move to cornerback. In 2018, Jones first year at corner, Jones allowed 56 receptions, for 703 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Good, but not great. In that season, he saw the 6th fewest amount of targets at the position and was second in the NFL is pass break ups with 14. He also added an interception in 16 games played. By comparison, Ronald Darby in 9 games in 2018 allowed 50 completions, 535 yards, and 4 touchdowns, while also having 10 pass breakups and a single interception. He was targeted 27 percent of the time and following that season, was given a 1 year $8.5 million dollar contract. Jalen Mills in 12 games in 2018 allowed 43 receptions for 680 yards, and 1 touchdown, while also not having an interception. Jones in his very first year at cornerback in the NFL outperformed both of these starting cornerbacks even despite their limited time. Jones earned his first pro bowl that season and was even named AP second team All Pro
In 2019, Jones only got BETTER. Jones was targeted by opposing quarterbacks 15.9 percent of the time, 3rd fewest in the league. He gave up 33 catches (9th in the league) and 351 yards (7th in the league) while allowing 3 touchdowns and breaking up 6 passes. Jones allowed a catch on just 47.8 percent of throws his way, ranking 4th in the league. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 90.1 when throwing in Jones direction, which seems high, but was 13th best in the NFL. Jones worst game of the season came against Redskins rookie, Terry McLaurin in which he allowed 5 catches (10 targets) for 62 yards and a touchdown. Jones did not allow another receiver to go over 46 yards against him, not even Michael Thomas, who had 3 catches for 29 yards with Jones lined up on him.
Eagles Draft/Free Agency Cornerback Woes
The Eagles have not had an elite cornerback since Asante Samuel left in 2011. They have attempted multiple times to bring in a big-money cornerback to help the secondary and have failed each and every time. The Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha in 2011, At 30 years of age, Nnamdi was hands down the best cornerback in the NFL for multiple years so when the Eagles brought him in to play with Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, fans and media alike thought that nobody was going to be able to throw the ball on that defense. That was not the case as Nnamdi struggled mightily switching from a man coverage defense to a zone. He flamed out of Philly just after his second year of his 5 year 60 million dollar contract. He allowed 9 touchdowns in 2 seasons with Philly after allowing just one form 2008-2010 in Oakland.
Byron Maxwell is another name that hurt that heads of Eagles fans. Byron Maxwell played in the shadows of Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner for 3 years after being drafted 173rd overall in the 2011 NFL draft out of Clemson University. Once Browner left to head to New England in free agency, Maxwell got his shot. He became the number two cornerback on the NFC Champions defense and was then given a 6-year 63 million dollar deal by the Philadelphia Eagles. Moving from number two corner in a loaded Seattle defense to the number one corner in the Eagles defense did not bode well for Maxwell. Maxwell lasted a single season in Philadelphia. He was ranked the 80 best cornerback in the NFL that year by Pro Football Focus. The one good thing to come from the Maxwell signing is that he and Kiko Alonso were used for a trade that helped the Eagles move up in the NFL draft to get Carson Wentz in 2016.
Sidney Jones is the most recent bust (as we speak) for the Eagles. Jones was regarded as the number one or two best cornerback heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. That is, until Jones ruptured his achilles and slid down the draft boards. The Eagles still decided to take Jones with the 43rd pick in the draft. Most fans were excited, if Jones had been even a shell of the player he was prior to injury, the Eagles received a bargain in the draft. So far, Jones has not been the player the Eagles hoped he would be. Jones missed the entire 2017 season due to the achilles injury. He returned in 2018 and started the season as the slot corner. Jones played decent but then was forced to miss time with a hamstring injury, just to come back, and re-injure himself, ending his 2018 season. Jones started the season behind Ronald Darby in 2019, and even after Darby went down, Jones saw players such as Orlando Scandrick (who i will mention later) and Craig James (who?) surpass him on the depth chart.
CANT SIGN A COWBOY!!!!
Yes, this is a reply that I have seen multiple times on posts regarding Byron Jones. The Eagles have been snake-bitten on two recent Dallas Cowboys signings and fans/media believe the team should steer clear from signing former Dallas players. The team was burned by the signing of Demarco Murray in 2015. After signing a lucrative 5 year 42 million dollar deal following an 1,800 yard season with the Cowboys, Murray was a round peg forced in a square hole of the Eagles offense. Chip Kelly ran his offense out of shotgun and loved running outside zone plays, giving Murray zero chance to get some steam going before taking a handoff. Murray ultimately flamed out of Philly after just a single season, before being traded to Tennessee, where he became a productive asset again. This past season, Orlando Scandrick was the latest villain the Eagles brought in (even though he spent a year with Kansas City in between) that caused a rift with fans. Scandrick was brought to Philadelphia in the pre-season at age 32, cut, and then after a slew of injuries, brought back to Philadelphia. Scandrick had a productive game against the New York Jets in which he had an interception, two sack, two forced fumbles, and a touchdown against a rookie quarterback. Scandrick had a couple bad games after that against the Vikings and Cowboys, and was ultimately released. Following his release, Scandrick went on a crusade on National TV ripping Eagles safety, Malcolm Jenkins, and Eagles General Manager, Howie Roseman. These interviews are pretty much the highlight of his 11 year NFL career.
The Eagles should definitely pursue Byron Jones
After the 2017 season, the Cowboys lost veterans Barry Church, JJ Wilcox, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne to free agency. At just 25 years old, Jones became the leader of the Dallas secondary. This is a detail many overlook, but going into age 27, signing with Philadelphia would make Jones the future leader of the defense as Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham enter the later stages of their respective careers.
Byron Jones is not Nnamdi Asomugha. Byron Jones only thing in common with Byron Maxwell is their first name. Fans and media bring these two payers up as a reason to not pay Jones, but do you avoid a partner who may be perfect for you because of a failed past relationship? You can knock Jones for not getting turnovers, that is okay. But what Jones does is shut down an entire side of the field and get his team off of the field when it matters most. After watching the Eagles be burned and burned… and burned by big plays from opposing receivers, Eagles fans would find happiness in watching Jones shut down an opponents number one receiver despite not having those big time interceptions. The Philadelphia Eagles and their fans should have zero fear of giving Jones the contract he has earned and allowing him to be the leader that he has been the past two seasons.