Originally, the NovaCare auditorium was set up for a two-microphone press conference Friday afternoon, which is how the Eagles roll when Andy Reid is ready to announce a signing the team considers notable -- that was the arrangement last Saturday when Stacy Andrews was introduced.
But just before Sean Jones addressed reporters, an Eagles staffer took one of the mikes down from the podium. Jones flew solo as he discussed the one-year deal he signed to bolster a safety corps that has lost Brian Dawkins and Sean Considine to free agency. Negotiations ran longer than expected, the Eagles said, and Reid had to leave for the Maxwell Club awards banquet in Atlantic City. You have to wonder, though, if the fact that both sides ended up settling for a one-year deal made this less of a big moment than the team originally anticipated.
Basically, the Birds are renting a safety. Jones, coming off knee surgery early last season, didn't have the 2008 he would have liked to have had entering free agency. The Eagles, presumably like other teams, weren't willing to venture the kind of contract he was looking for, but they needed reinforcements, even if they did like what Quintin Demps showed as a rookie. So the one-year deal benefits both parties. Jones gets a year with a team he feels can be a contender, to construct a better platform for free agency. The Eagles get a 27-year-old guy who has been a solid NFL starter, if not a star, and if it turns out Demps and Quintin Mikell are a better safety combo, the team's investment in Jones can end after 2009. If he really fits in well and his knee is fine, they can work on an extension.
Here's more on Jones from today's Daily News.
A second-round draft pick in 2004 out of Georgia, Jones saw a decreased role with the Browns last year after having early-season knee surgery.
"It feels great," Jones said at the press conference. "Philly has great tradition here. The fans demand the team to win and I’m very excited to be here and be a part of this organization. I want to thank coach (Andy) Reid for giving me the opportunity to come and showcase my talent.”
Jones (6-1, 220) said he can play either safety position, but he said he has a slight preference for strong safety, which was where Eagles general manager Tom Heckert indicated he'll line up -- though Heckert noted that in Jim Johnson's scheme, at least last year's version, the safeties tend to be interchangeable. Heckert said Jones will compete for a starting job.
" I like to come down in the box and hit you," Jones said. "At the same time, I’m a ballhawk. I am going to try to implement both of those parts of my game here."