Philadelphia Eagles: The case to re-sign Jalen Mills is strong

Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles safety Jalen Mills (21) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles safety Jalen Mills (21) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Eagles should re-sign Jalen Mills.

A handful of fans were somewhat frustrated at the Philadelphia Eagles decision to bring back Jalen Mills for the 2020 season (with the goal of moving him to safety). However, the organization ultimately made the correct decision. Mills had a very productive season – arguably the best of his career.

While the Eagles secondary ended up being a bit of a disaster when it was all said and done, it was of little fault to Mills. The fifth year pro, tasked with replacing Malcolm Jenkins back at strong safety, did his job to an above average level. Considering where the Eagles are at in terms of defensive back depth, the decision to bring the former LSU product back for at least one more season should be a fairly easy one.

For starters, Mills stuffed the stat sheet in 2020. He recorded 74 total tackles (career high), 1.5 sacks (career high), 4 TFLs (career high), 5 QB hits (career high), 3 passes defensed, and he forced two turnovers. Now obviously the tackling numbers shooting up was expected as he made the switch from corner to safety, but Mills was productive regardless. He was the Eagles second leading tackler in 2020, trailing only Alex Singleton.

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Outside of Mills’ increase of production as an in-the-box safety, he also did a pretty good job in coverage. Quarterbacks had a completion percentage of 57.6% when targeting him, and Mills’ allowed QB rating when targeted of 82.8 was a career best by a pretty large margin.

Mills has always been a slower, more physical defensive back, so the general consensus was that a move to safety would benefit him. Needless to say, that theory proved to be correct in 2020. Mills got to focus less on speedy WRs beating him over the top, and more on being a force in the run game, while simultaneously picking up tight ends in coverage when asked to do so.

Another huge piece to Mills’ game this past season was his versatility. The Eagles (obviously) suffered a ton of injuries in 2020, and Mills ended up being the Swiss army knife when it came to filling said holes. He logged 400+ snaps at corner, 300+ snaps at linebacker, 200+ snaps at free safety, and even saw some action on the defensive line as a blitzer. Considering how the team’s roster is shaping up for the 2021 season, depth will once again be an issue. Having a guy like Mills, someone you can plug and play all over the place without complaint, is an underrated luxury.

Had K’Von Wallace flashed his rookie season, there might’ve not been a need for someone like Mills moving forward. However, the former Clemson safety barely played this past season. Throw in the fact that Rodney McLeod tore his ACL, and Jalen Mills is really the only “sure thing” that Philly has back at safety.

Additionally, Mills seemed to embrace a leadership role that was left vacant upon Malcolm Jenkins’ departure. With Jim Schwartz now no longer in town, having a veteran in the secondary who can continue to preach a strong defensive culture is crucial. Mills appears to be a good candidate for that role.

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Combine all that together: the strong play, the versatility, the lack of safety depth in 2021, and Mills’ leadership qualities and it really is a no brainer. Snatching up Mills on another short term deal would definitely be in the Philadelphia Eagles best interest, and the longtime Eagle would likely take a “hometown discount” to stay in Philly barring any serious interest from another team in free agency.