Eagles have decisions to make on Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at defensive tackle: 

Fletcher Cox 

Roob: Cox was still very good but not consistently great in his eighth NFL season. Cox obviously isn’t going anywhere for quite a while. He’s signed for three more years and he’s still one of the better interior linemen in the league. But it will be interesting to see whether his drop in production this past season had more to do with coming off offseason foot surgery or just getting close to 30 and having 132 NFL games under his belt. The Eagles need Cox to be great.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He got off to a slow start after missing all of training camp but he turned it on late. He was pretty dominant in the first half of that playoff game and he’s still the Eagles’ best defensive player. With a full offseason to prepare, I expect Cox to return to form in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Without question, 2019 was a down year, but Cox was only ever close to 100 percent for a short period in the middle of the season. For practical reasons, he’s here at least one more because it would cost something like $27 million in dead money for the Eagles to move on — but also because it would be a drastic overreaction after five consecutive Pro Bowls. 

Verdict: Stays

Malik Jackson 

Roob: The high-profile free agent’s first season with the Eagles lasted 32 snaps. The Eagles had so many injuries on offense it was easy to forget they lost one of their better defensive players as well. They gave Jackson $30 million over three years to team up with Cox and form the interior of one of the league’s best defensive lines, but it never happened. Jackson hurt his foot on opening day and the Eagles just have to hope that by the time next year begins he’s closer to 100 percent than Cox and Brandon Graham were after their injuries.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It happened so early in the season and a lot happened after that, but losing Jackson was a huge blow for the Eagles. They were relying on him and no one saw the injury coming. He had been incredible durable during his career before that. The good news is that the Lisfranc injury happened early in the year, so he has a lot of time to rehab. I don’t know if he’ll be the same player but the Eagles are going to find out. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: What an underrated loss Jackson was, and you could tell Howie Roseman felt the same. Given the Eagles’ depth, cap implications and the fact that he’s only 30, the team should roll the dice on a full recovery and return to form.

Verdict: Stays

Tim Jernigan 

Roob: Jernigan, an unrestricted free agent, is another interesting case because he missed seven games, he didn’t make a big impact early but then he finally looked his old self during the stretch run. He actually played about half the defensive snaps the last couple months of the season. If the oft-injured Jernigan is willing to take a modest salary again I’d bring him back as a third d-tackle. But he’s hurt too often to invest big money.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: One of the bigger storylines down the stretch of the 2019 season was the resurgence of Jernigan. He actually looked better than he had since early in the 2017 season. Because of all his injuries, I don’t expect Jernigan to find big money in free agency. If the Eagles can bring him back on a cheap deal, he could be the third DT and a rotational piece with Cox and Jackson. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Not only did Jernigan miss significant time due to injury for the second year in a row — 19 games in two seasons — with 10 tackles and 2.0 sacks in 27 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, the production wasn’t there when he did play. Can’t see the club re-upping.

Verdict: Goes

Hassan Ridgeway 

Roob: With Jernigan and Jackson out, Ridgeway gave the Eagles some decent snaps before he suffered a season-ending injury of his own. Ridgeway isn’t as talented as Jernigan, but he’s younger and probably won’t cost as much. If Cox and Jackson are healthy and Jernigan is looking for a more money than the Eagles are willing to pay, Ridgeway is a sound option as a third tackle.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Ridgeway was actually playing well early in the season before he ended up on IR. And he’s still young at 25. If the Eagles want to get a little younger, they could keep Ridgeway instead of Jernigan. My guess is that only one of them will be back. Right now, I’m leaning toward Jernigan as Ridgeway is coming off a season that ended on IR. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Ridgeway’s production (8 tackles, 2.0 sacks) was about on par with the other reserve linemen in, you guessed it, an injury-shortened season. However, he led the backups with 4 tackles for loss and 4 quarterback hits in 24 percent of the snaps, and played the most on special teams at 13 percent. He’s a free agent, but only 25 and probably available for relatively cheap.  

Verdict: Stays

Anthony Rush 

Roob: Rush gave the Eagles some decent production down the stretch after they scooped him up off the Raiders’ practice squad, averaging about 17 snaps per game over the last couple months. I think Rush will be one of those guys who’s on and off the roster, on and off the practice squad. I don’t expect him to make the initial roster but wouldn’t be surprised if he does pop up during the season.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I was actually impressed by Rush this season. He didn’t even make it to training camp with the Eagles but when he came back to the Eagles in October, he played pretty well down the stretch. He’s still under contract and I think he can stick around as a deep rotational player. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: If nothing else, all the injuries to interior linemen may have uncovered a diamond in the rough in Rush. Signed off Oakland’s practice squad, the undrafted rookie managed 9 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and two pass deflections in just under 15 percent of the snaps, plus contributed on special teams. Oh, and he’s under contract for six figures. 

Verdict: Stays

Bruce Hector 

Roob: Another one of the numerous young defensive tackles the Eagles were forced to use this past season. Hector has been on and off the roster several times the last couple years but ultimately doesn’t project to have a significant role, barring another rash of injuries at the defensive tackle position.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Hector has been around for two years now and has actually played in 11 games over the last two years. He might stick around on the practice squad but I don’t see him making the initial 53-man roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: It was telling when the Eagles desperately needed tackles to fill in for injured players, the team went dumpster diving on other team’s practice squads before promoting Bruce Hector the 53-man roster. He’s had two years and hasn’t developed.

Verdict: Goes

Albert Huggins 

Roob: Like Rush and Hector, Huggins is a former practice squad player the Eagles were forced to use because of injuries. He played sparingly and finished the season on the practice squad. He is only 22 so he has some upside, so I’d expect him to be in camp. But he’ll be a longshot to make the team.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The rookie from Clemson played in four games for the Eagles this season but finished 2019 on the practice squad. I don’t expect him to make the roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: In one NFL season, Huggins spent time with three different teams, including two stints with the Eagles. He’ll get another look because he’s a big body, but practice squad seems like it might be the ceiling.

Verdict: Goes 

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Eagles have decisions to make on Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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