Philadelphia Eagles punter Donnie Jones is calling it a career. The 37-year-old punter officially announced his retirement on Tuesday morning.
“After 14 seasons in the NFL, I have decided to retire so that I can spend more time with my family,” said Jones. “I am grateful for all those who have supported me throughout the years. Specifically, I would like to thank Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and the entire Eagles organization for allowing me to be a part of their family for the past five seasons. I will truly miss my teammates, coaches, friends and the best fans in the NFL. Although I am retiring, I will always be an Eagle and will forever have a special place in my heart for the city of Philadelphia. It is a great honor to be a part of the first Super Bowl championship team in Eagles history and there is no better way to finish my career.”
The Eagles released a statement as well.
“We want to congratulate Donnie Jones on reaching the pinnacle of his career and retiring as a Super Bowl champion. Donnie is a professional in every sense of the word and we wish him all the best in retirement. We owe much of our recent special teams success to Donnie, as evidenced by the numerous franchise punting records he set during his five-year run with the Eagles. We will miss Donnie’s ability on the field, but will also miss his enthusiastic personality and the daily commitment he made to engaging with our community and our fan base.”
Congratulations to Donnie. Although it’ll be sad to not have him back, it’s great that he gets to go out on top like this. He’s been a great punter for the Eagles ever since joining Philadelphia back in 2013. Jones retires as Philadelphia’s all-time leader in both gross punting average (45.37) and net average (40.5). He also owns Eagles franchise records for most career punts inside the 20 (138), most single-season punts inside the 20 (34, 2014) and best net punting average in a season (41.6, 2015).
Jones’ retirement helps the Eagles from a salary cap perspective. A player retiring is fiscally equivalent to them getting cut. In other words, the Eagles will save $1.625 million (compared to $250,000 in dead money) with Jones walking away from the game. The Eagles were ~$9.6 million OVER the cap so any little bit helps. That figure should be down to ~$8 million now.
So, who is the Eagles’ punter now? That’s a good question. The Eagles did sign Cameron Johnston to a futures contract following the 2017 regular season. Johnston first signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent the entire summer with the team before being waived in final cuts. [Click here to read more about Johnston.]
It’s possible the Eagles really like Johnston. It probably wouldn’t hurt to bring in another undrafted rookie free agent punter this year to compete with him, though.
If the Eagles want to sign a veteran punter in free agency, some options include: Pat O’Donnell, Dustin Colquitt (overlapped with Doug Pederson in Kansas City), Kevin Huber, and Shane Lechler.
We’ll see what happens. For now, congrats again to Donnie Longball on a fantastic career.