Jalen Mills is returning to the Eagles on a one-year deal, the team announced on Tuesday, helping to solidify a secondary that is in the process of changing for 2020.
A seventh-round draft pick in 2016 (the 233rd overall selection that year), Mills enters his fifth season and gives the Eagles a solid starter who has skills to play both the cornerback position, where he's started the last three seasons, and safety. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves versatility in his players, and Mills has that kind of move-around ability.
After missing the second half of the 2018 season with a foot injury, Mills returned in 2019 and started nine games, recording 50 total tackles and one interception. He's a sure tackler, a tenacious competitor, and boasts a swagger on the field that the Eagles appreciate.
"I play the game because I love it," Mills said during the 2019 season. "I missed it so much when I was out. I thought about it constantly, getting back on the field. That motivated me every day. So, to be out there and playing and doing something that I love, it means the world to me.
"I'm part of this defense. It doesn't matter what my role is. I'll do whatever the coaches ask me to do."
With the Eagles declining the 2020 option on Malcolm Jenkins' contract, the team announced on Tuesday, the Eagles have a void at one safety position although Rodney McLeod is back, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal Tuesday. They've also got some questions at cornerback with starter Ronald Darby scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, so there is still a lot of unknown in the defensive backfield at this moment. Of course, the Eagles have spent the entire offseason mapping out their strategy for free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft, so none of the moves of the last couple of days has been a surprise to the team.
Mills started two games in his 2016 rookie season and then became a full-time starter in 2017. He played 90 percent of the team's defensive snaps, with 15 starts, three interceptions (one returned for touchdown), and a career-best 22 passes defensed that year. Mills was terrific throughout the postseason as the Eagles defeated Atlanta and Minnesota in the NFC playoffs and then toppled New England to win Super Bowl LII.