When Tim Jernigan first arrived in Philadelphia after being traded from Baltimore in 2017, he quickly realized his new home was special.
"I knew it was somewhere I could see myself wanting to end my career, right here in Philadelphia," Jernigan said at the NovaCare Complex after officially signing his one-year contract on Friday. "I just felt at home. Work never felt like work here. It was never a bad vibe. The guys made it fun as well, guys like Fletch (Cox), like when Vinny (Curry) was here the year before. It was just being able to work with good guys and under good coaches as well."
Jernigan was the ideal complement next to Cox and in 15 starts he registered 34 tackles, 18 combined QB pressures and hits, and 2.5 sacks during the Super Bowl run. Cox might have put up bigger numbers in 2018, including a career-high 10.5 sacks, but he also played 80 percent of the snaps on defense – a 21-percent increase over the previous season.
Why did Cox have to play more? Offseason surgery limited Jernigan to just 46 regular-season snaps in three games.
"It was miserable at times, but I understood. I had to be patient," Jernigan said. "I had to wait my turn. You rush back or you put too much on yourself too early and that's how people end their career.
"I feel like I did the right thing, just making sure I took my time to get back and do it right and listen to our trainers and listen to my body. I felt like I was able to come back and the plays that I did play last year, I felt like I was effective.
"Now, I feel like it's just time to come back and pick up where I left off at. I know for a fact after having more time to rest and let the injury recover, it's going to be on next year. It's going to be on."
In the 2018 playoffs, Jernigan saw his most extensive action of the year recording four tackles and a sack in 58 snaps.
"I plan to pick up right where I left off at," he added. "I feel like I'm in better shape. My body feels better. I'm a little bit lighter. I feel quicker. It's going to be interesting to see."
The Eagles bolstered the defensive tackle group earlier in the offseason with the signing of Malik Jackson, who was a Pro Bowl selection during his time in Jacksonville. On Saturday, the Eagles sent a seventh-round pick to Indianapolis to acquire veteran Hassan Ridgeway, a 24-year-old with 34 regular-season games under his belt.
"We rotate, so it doesn't make me nervous or scare me even a little bit like, 'Oh, I'm not going to play.' Nah, that's not the case. I know I'm going to play," Jernigan said. "I have no doubt in my mind that I'm going to play football next year, a lot of credible snaps, meaning snaps. I have to make sure when I get in there, there's no drop-off. When I get in there, I'm holding my own."
As Jernigan sat in the Board Room of the NovaCare Complex, first-round pick Andre Dillard made the rounds as he toured his new home for the first time. It didn't make Jernigan reflect on his draft-day experience. Instead, he realized that nothing in the league is guaranteed.
"It's crazy that this is my sixth year in the NFL coming up," he said. "It's like I look back and wonder where the time went. It's crazy how fast it flies. I'm just learning to cherish every single moment and know that I get to go out and be on that practice field and be on that game field and just be around the guys. I'm learning to cherish every moment of it."