Eagles Sign Promising CB, Sidney Jones Back on Hot Seat

Craig James

Getty The Eagles signed CB Craig James to a one-year contract extension through 2021.

The Eagles have locked up one promising young cornerback, not exactly a household name.

Philadelphia signed Craig James to a one-year deal on Friday worth $1.52 million, with $300,000 in guaranteed money. NFL Network’s Tom Peliserro first reported the move. The 24-year-old saw action in 14 games last year for the Eagles, participating in 237 special teams snaps and 68 defensive snaps.

James made one highlight-reel play in 2019 when he read a slant route and tipped Aaron Rodgers’ pass in the air with 28 seconds left in Week 4. The ball landed in Nigel Bradham’s hands to secure a 34-27 win over Green Bay. It was only James’ third defensive snap in Philadelphia.

“I’m the guy nobody knows about, just coming into the game,” James said after that game, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “When you see that new guy, you’re like, ‘we gotta target him. That’s the weakness of the defense right now.’ You can’t blame them.”

James, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Illinois, spent the 2018 season on the Vikings where he played three games. Minnesota released him at the end of last year’s training camp and he bounced around between the Eagles’ practice squad and active roster in 2019. Obviously the team sees enough talent in the kid from Abraham Lincoln’s hometown to give him a roster spot. He was set to become a restricted free agent in 2021.

The Eagles also released veteran cornerback Trevor Williams, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Philadelphia had just re-signed Williams on Aug. 24, just eight months after signing him to a futures contract. Williams spent some time last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, too.

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Evaluating the Eagles’ CB Depth Chart

The Eagles only kept four cornerbacks after breaking camp in 2019, a small number that doesn’t bode well for bubble guys. They currently have eight corners on the roster, with four locks to make the 53 in Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Cre’Von LeBlanc.

That leaves James to fight it out with Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas for a possible fifth and final spot. Unless undrafted rookie Michael Jacquet steals a spot. Would Philadelphia hand a one-year deal to James if they were going to cut him? Probably not. Jones, a second-round pick in 2017, is on the final year of his rookie contract that pays him $1.3 million in base salary for 2020.

Jones is an unrestricted free agent next season and the coaching staff hasn’t seemed impressed with him all summer. Douglas is also an unrestricted free agent in 2021 but he restructured his contract before camp. He’s a much more attractive (read: cheaper) option than Jones at $825,000.

Meanwhile, Jones has done himself no favors by missing a large portion of camp due to injury.

“Sid is into it. He’s done a good job of staying up and everything else when he hasn’t been able to practice,” Schwartz said of Jones on Aug. 24. “But as coaches, guys that are on the field are the guys that are getting the reps, and the guys that are available and doing those kind of things and just unfortunately he has not been there for this last week or so. There’s still time, but time is starting to creep in on us.”

It appears Jones’ time in Philly might be running out. There had been speculation he might compete for the starting job opposite Slay but it never happened. Maddox won it on the first day of camp and never looked back. Jones is squarely in jeopardy of being cut.

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