Answering a common question.
This news doesn’t come as a surprise, but since everyone isn’t necessarily familiar with the NFI list, here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s recall Jones suffered his Achilles injury during Washington’s pro day leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. The Eagles drafted him in the second round. Jones started training camp on the active/non-football injury list, which means he counted towards a roster spot but could have been taken off the list at any time.
Jones did not practice, though, since he obviously wasn’t healthy enough to do so. This means he was eligible for the reserve/non-football injury list, which he is currently on.
On this list, Jones does not count towards a roster spot. The trade off is that he has to miss at least the first six weeks of the 2017 regular season. Once Week 7 rolls around, the Eagles have six weeks to decide whether Jones is ready or not to start practice. If Jones is ready to practice and begins to participate, Philadelphia has 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the season by keeping him on the reserve/non-football injury.
Neither the Eagles nor Jones have provided a real update on the rookie cornerback’s recovery progress. It’s anyone’s guess as to if/when Jones will play this season. We do know that Jones will start running in a week, which is positive news.
There’s an argument to be made the Eagles shouldn’t activate Jones at all this season. If Jones doesn’t play this year, he’d be a restricted free agent at the end of his contract as opposed to an unrestricted free agent. Of course, Jones (and his agent) probably wouldn’t like the Eagles keeping him out if he’s ready to play.
But even if Jones gets healthy enough to play this year, it’s hard to imagine him having a big role. He’s going to need time to get into game shape. He hasn’t had the benefit of a full offseason of practice reps. Not to mention corner isn’t a position where rookies typically step in and play very well right away. There’s no good reason to rush Jones on the field.
Eagles fans have ample reason to be excited about the 21-year-old Jones in the long-term picture. Many draft analysts thought he’d be a top 10 pick if he was healthy. Jones could pair up with the 23-year-old Ronald Darby to give the Eagles a starting cornerback duo that actually has the potential to be good. That’s something Philly hasn’t had in a very long time.
NOTE: For those wondering how NFI differs from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, it’s basically the same thing. The key difference is that teams have the right to not pay players their base salary if they’re on NFI. Don’t imagine that’ll be the case here, though.
Related reading: Sidney Jones forces turnovers like it’s his job, which it is — Eagles Rookie Profile: Strengths and weaknesses of Sidney Jones
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