PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles liked Josh Sills so much as an undrafted rookie free agent last season that the organization essentially redshirted him as a backup on what was regarded as the best offensive line in the NFL.
Sills spent his entire rookie season on Philadelphia’s 53-man roster right up until the lead-up to Super Bowl LVII when a bombshell was dropped in the form of a Guernsey County, Ohio grand jury indictment on rape and kidnapping charges stemming from allegations that he forcibly restrained and raped an acquaintance in December of 2019 while he was still playing college football at West Virginia.
Sills, 25, ultimately finished his college playing career at Oklahoma State before catching the eye of Eagles’ offensive line coach Jeff Stoitland in training camp. The real turning point for Sills in Stoutland’s eyes was his attempt at playing left tackle in camp when the team was dealing with dings to both Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard.
Sills held his own at an unfamiliar position and was on his way as a backup player with impressive versatility right up until Jan. 31 when the indictment was filed and Sills was placed on the league’s commissioner’s exemption list, essentially a stasis while the courts determined his future.
Sills was acquitted of all charges last weekend and is back with the Eagles, taking the practice field with his teammates on Tuesday as a backup left guard. After the practice, he spoke to reporters.
“I’d like to say that I’m very appreciative of my teammates, my coaches, this organization,” he said in a prepared statement before any questions were lobbed. “The process that I went through has not been easy. It’s been very daunting for myself. More important, for my family, I’m glad that throughout the process, I was able to clear my name.”
While cleared in a court of law, the court of public opinion can often be more difficult, especially with accusations as serious as the ones levied at Sills.
“I just like people to know that what you see is what you get,” said Sills when asked what he would say to those who may balk at his return. “There’s no smoke and mirrors. I am who I am. I’m beyond appreciative to be here, and thankful to have a great organization.”
Sills claims the order will not affect him moving forward.
“I wouldn’t say it’s changed me,” he said. “Like I just said, I am who I am, and that’s who I’ll always be. That’s how I was raised. That’s how my parents raised me to be. What you see is what you get, and you are who you are.”
The fact that the Eagles put Sills in front of the media is actually a clear indication that the organization will give him every opportunity to reboot his career.
“Obviously, we never took the charge lightly, right?” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “So, you’re completely aware of that and then he goes on the exempt list. We followed all the protocols there as far as just wanted to let the legal process play itself out. I think just at the end of the day, we let the legal process and the league’s decision to take him off the exempt list make our decision, right?
“So, my experience with Josh has been nothing but positive. He’s been a great teammate and done his job and guys love him on this team. My experience with him has been great. We’re happy to have him back.”
And Sills is happy to be back.
“I had to focus on clearing my name and going through the process that I went through,” he said. “I’m glad that throughout that process I was able to clear my name, and I’m just thankful that I’m back.”