NFL rumors: Patriots release Jalen Mills; is an Eagles reunion up next?
Is a Mills-Eagles reunion on the horizon? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Could a Green Goblin reunion be in the cards for the Eagles' secondary?
Super Bowl LII champion Jalen Mills was released Friday by the Patriots. Mills, who turns 29 next month, appeared in just 26 games for the Patriots after signing a four-year, $24 million contract in free agency back in 2021.
Any time a former Eagle hits the open market, fans and analysts alike ask the question wonder if the player could return to the sea of midnight green in South Philly. Often, the fit doesn't make sense. But this time...?
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With the departure of Marcus Epps to Las Vegas and the uncertainty surrounding C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the Eagles currently have Reed Blankenship and K'Von Wallace at safety. Blankenship flashed last year, but his ceiling across a 17-game season is unclear. Wallace has largely been a special teams contributor and hasn't shown a ton when he's played on defense.
Enter Mills, who despite playing six of his seven seasons in the NFL is a bit of a hybrid defensive back and played safety in 2020 for the Eagles, where he was pretty effective.
Mills certainly views himself as a safety:
So should the Eagles pursue their former seventh-round pick?
I think it makes sense if Gardner-Johnson winds up elsewhere and you'd like to add depth to the position, knowing that you can also draft a player at the position or look for a late roster addition closer to training camp.
Mills had two interceptions last season, but his lowly Pro Football Focus grade (44.6) may give some folks pause about his performance at this point in his career. He's also coming off a season plagued by injury; a lingering groin issue limited Mills to 10 games in 2022.
I think if you put Mills at corner, you'll be disappointed by the player. But I still think he can be a valuable contributor as a safety. And with a soft safety market and his recent play, Mills will probably come at a reduced rate.
So, what the heck: bring Mills back on a cheap one-year prove it deal, see what he has, and let things play out. Don't guarantee him a starting job, but if he earns one? Great.