With the Philadelphia Eagles not re-signing Mat McBriar, they were looking to add a punter either through free agency or through the draft. Opting for the free agency route, the Eagles signed punter Donnie Jones, an unrestricted free agent from the Houston Texans.
Jones was drafted in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He played in only seven games for the Seahawks, punting 26 times for 988 yards. He managed an average punt of 38 yards with six punts landing inside the 20 yard line, three inside the 10 yard line, and four fair catches.
Jones spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, playing in all 16 games each year. He punted 173 times for a total of 7,467 yards during the two seasons in Miami. His average yardage went up about five yards per punt in Miami (43) from his time in Seattle (38). The amount of punts that landed inside the 20 yard line increased fivefold in 2005 as Jones put the ball there 31 times. Overall, Jones put the ball inside the 20 yard line 59 times and inside the 10 yard line 19 times during his stint with the Dolphins.
After Miami let Jones go, the St. Louis Rams picked him up. Jones would end up playing for the Rams from 2007 until 2011. He played in every game (80) for the Rams during that time span. Jones punted for 23,924 yards with, averaging 4,785, over 449 punts. His average distance continued to increase until it peaked in 2008 with an average of 50 yards per punt. His overall average while with St. Louis was slightly below 47 yards. After his career high average during the 2008 season, his average started declining until he went to the Houston Texans for the 2012 season. With the Texans, Jones put the ball inside the 20 yard line 133 times, with a career high of 34 coming in 2009. He put the ball inside the 10 yard line a total of 41 times.
Jones spent the past season with the Houston Texans where he played in every game and was called on to punt 88 times, totaling 4,150 yards with an average of 47.2 yards per punt. He put the ball inside the 20 yard line 28 times and 11 times inside the 10 yard line.
The Eagles made the right choice to pursue a punter through free agency rather than put pressure on a rookie from the draft to come in a and perform right away. Now the team has a consistent punter who has played in basically every game of his career, minus his rookie season in Seattle where he only played half of the season.
For this season, at least, the punter situation has been taken care of. The Eagles have had a new starting punter for each of the past two seasons. Jones will now be the third starting punter for what has been a revolving door at the position in recent years. If Jones has a great season, the Eagles could potentially re-sign him after his one-year contract is up.
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