‘Special' Tim Jernigan Rewarded by Eagles for Stellar Play

Tim Jernigan was sitting in his locker talking about his new contract when he kept getting interupted.

"Wooooh, hooooo … $48 million, direct deposit, baby," Brandon Graham yelled as he walked past.

"Hey, Santander Bank? I need to make a deposit!" Chris Long barked. "A big deposit!"

Jernigan cracked up.

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"It's been like this all day," he said.

Jernigan was back in Philadelphia Monday, four days after signing a four-year extension worth $48 million, including $26 million in guaranteed components.

The reworked deal starts in 2018 and gives the Eagles contractual control over the 25-year-old defensive tackle through 2021.

The Eagles acquired Jernigan and a late third-round pick that became Rasul Douglas from the Ravens in April in exchange for an earlier third-round pick.

"It means a lot," Jernigan said. "Especially coming from a place where in a sense there were questions marks.

"It feels good that Howie (Roseman) believes in me and Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie believed in me. I'm definitely going to make them proud and make sure they know that they made the right decision.

"Just to be able to come in and work with these guys, it's definitely a special group. Going out on Sundays, you have no choice but to be productive because you know that the guy beside you is going to do exactly that. So they push me so hard, the same way they feel that I make things better for them, I feel the same way about them."

In just nine games in an Eagles uniform, Jernigan has become a worthy partner of All-Pro Fletcher Cox. The two defensive tackles are the main reason the Eagles are ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rush defense and have one of the league's most feared front fours.

"Those two guys playing together here for a long time?" Long said. "That's pretty awesome for the city of Philadelphia."

The Eagles cut ties with a pretty good player in Benny Logan in order to sign Jernigan, who draws more double-teams than Logan.

"He's special," Cox said. "He's really special, man. He does a lot of great stuff. What's different about Timmy is he gets a lot of tackle for losses. He's always just wrecking stuff.

"We talk about it all the time, just being a really good duo, just playing together and having fun. That's really what it's all about. For him to be here another four years, the guys upstairs are doing a lot of good things right now."

Jerigan has a team-high eight tackles for loss along with 1½ sacks and five quarterback hurries. But the numbers don't explain just how much he's helped Cox return to form as one of the NFL's most dominating linemen.

"He keeps offenses honest," Cox said. "They can't just always slide to me. They've got to pick who they want to slide to. That's the great thing about it. He brings that mismatch.

"He's winning his 1-on-1's. That's the key. When guys get 1-on-1's, you've got to win them. I'll have my time when I get 1-on-1's, and when I do, I've got to win them."

The Eagles gave Cox a six-year, $102 million contract last year, so they now have just over $150 million earmarked for their two starting defensive tackles. That's gotta be some sort of NFL record.

But they also the option of keeping this duo together through 2021.

"That's my brother, man," Jernigan said with a huge smile. "Fletch is a great guy. He's done nothing but guide me since the day I got here. There's never been any jealousy factor or anything like that. He's done nothing but try to help me in every aspect on the field and off the field.

"We're a lot alike. Whenever we strap those cleats up, we have one thing on our mind and that's just to wreck havoc and be dominant. And then we have good guys playing beside us and just a strong team around us, so it's easy to play like that."

Cox, a two-time Pro Bowler, has only played seven games alongside Jernigan - he missed two games earlier this year - but he already considers the former Ravens second-round pick one of his favorite teammates.

"I try to be the guy out there who gets everybody else going, but you never know when it's your time, and he does a great job just going out there having fun," Cox said.

"Everybody sees Tim out there having fun. That's the type of swagger you want from a guy like that, especially a D-lineman."

When the Ravens shipped Jernigan to the Eagles, he arrived amidst rumors about his work ethic and consistency. But he's been nothing but a model citizen since getting here.

"I just like the way he works, his attitude," Long said. "He's a great teammate on and off the field. 

"Obviously on the field coming from a scheme where he didn't get to maybe showcase as much of his disruptive ability … seeing him come here and play a scheme that fits his level of disruption and explosive ability, you can really see flashes of what's to come for the next few years here."

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