Eagles sign Akeem Spence, react to season-ending injury to DT Malik Jackson
The ripple effect of losing Malik Jackson was beginning to settle inside the Eagles’ locker room on Tuesday, but nobody is panicking over a season-ending injury to the high-priced free agent tackle signed in the offseason.
Jackson, 6-5, 290, suffered a Lisfranc injury in Sunday’s win over the Washington Redskins and will miss the remainder of the season.
“We’ll probably be without him for a while,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Tuesday afternoon. “Malik’s an important part of what we do and we’ll certainly miss him when he’s off the field, but we have plenty of guys that can step up and play and that’s nothing new with the NFL.
“It doesn’t change our task from game to game, it doesn’t change our task over the course of the year. We’ll get him healthy and get him back. I know Malik will do a good job staying engaged while he’s rehabbing. I’ve been very impressed with him not only as a player but as a professional as well.”
VIDEO: Jim Schwartz talks about the loss of Malik Jackson
The Eagles signed fee agent defensive tackle Akeem Spence to take Jackson's spot on the D line.
Spence was with Miami last year, recording two sacks, six tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits while starting all 16 games.
A former fouth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013 out of the University of Illinois, Spence was in Miami with current Eagles defensive special assistant Matt Burke, who was the defensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2018.
This will be Spence's third team in as many seasons, after playing with the Dolphins and, two years ago, the Detroit Lions.
As for Jackson, 29, he signed a three-year contract worth $30 million on March 13. He received $17 million guarantees, but the final two years of the deal are voidable.
He was being counted on to team with Fletcher Cox to form an impenetrable inside wall against the run and pocket-pushing presence in the pass game.
With Jackson gone, the starter's role will probably fall in the lap of Tim Jernigan, who helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl in 2017 with a strong season next to Cox.
Jernigan was hurt most of last season, however then released in the offseason.
“Our mentality has always been next-man-up and this is no different,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins. “It’s always tough when someone gets injured, but you know that’s part of the game.
"We just have to move on with someone else. Everyone knows how deep we are along the line of scrimmage. Tim will play and he’ll do a great job.”
Jernigan didn’t find much to his liking on the open market after being released, and opted to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles on April 26.
The deal has a base value of $2 million but can rise to as high as $3 million with playing time bonuses.
Jernigan will now get a chance to earn those bonuses.
“He’s excited man,” said defensive end Vinny Curry. “At the end of the day, we won a championship with this group, so he’s excited, he’s ready, he’s up for the challenge and he’s going to take this opportunity.”
Jernigan had the Eagles’ only sack on Sunday, playing 25 snaps (37 percent).
He won’t be the only player getting more chances. So too will Hassan Ridgeway, who entered the season as the fourth defensive tackle but will likely elevate to No. 3. Ridgeway played 24 snaps (36 percent) against Washington.
The Eagles can also move players such as ends Curry and Brandon Graham inside on passing downs.
“We have guys who are going to step in and play well,” said linebacker Nigel Bradham. “That’s the way we’re looking at it. Malik is a great player and it’s tough that he’s out, but we have no choice but to have the next man step up and keep it going here.”