Phillips, a former JUCO star, joins the New York Jets after making his NFL debut with an AFC East rival last season.
The New York Jets announced the signing of linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips on Tuesday. Phillips comes over their AFC East rival Buffalo Bills, who waived him on January 19.
Phillips, 24, made his NFL regulars season debut last season through two games with the Bills, ironically making his debut against the Jets during the teams’ get-together in Week 1. Alas for Phillips, a quadriceps injury limited to only one other game in November. All 14 of his snaps came on special teams.
The Buffalo arrival was the latest step on Phillips’ most unusual journey to the NFL. He was originally committed to Western Michigan’s football team (set to join fellow new Jet Corey Davis) but was ruled academically ineligible. After a year away from the game, Phillips joined up with Garden City Community College in Kansas. He’d pick up seven sacks in his freshman season and earned 95 tackles the following year as the Broncbusters topped Arizona Western College to capture the NJCAA National Championship.
Phillips later saw his Division I dreams realized through a new chance at Illinois. He would go on to tally 180 tackles, including 10 for a loss and 2.5 sacks, in two seasons. During his senior campaign, Phillips was tied for second in the Big Ten with a quartet of interceptions. Phillips also held defensive captaincy honors during his final season in 2018.
Though Phillips was undrafted after his time in Champaign, he joined up with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2019 preseason, earning 21 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries over five exhibitions (including the Hall of Fame Game). He was part of Atlanta’s final cuts, but was signed to the Bills’ practice squad just over a month later.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags