This year is the toughest in recent memory when it comes to projecting the Eagles’ 53-man roster. There were already so many questions to answer.
And then the Eagles traded for Gardner Minshew ... and there goes one roster spot.
But what will they do with Rodney McLeod (PUP) and Landon Dickerson (NFI)? Will Tyree Jackson be IR’d before or after final cuts? How does the hybrid SAM position fit into the equation? What about some bubble vested veterans who the Eagles could cut and bring back in Week 2 to avoid guaranteeing their base salaries?
All that plays a role and it makes this very difficult. And the Eagles have to be down to 53 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
With all that said, here’s my best guess:
Quarterback (3): Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Gardner Minshew
The Eagles weren't going to keep Nick Mullens on their active roster but they will need to keep Minshew. Many won't be fans of the Eagles' keeping three but these three are worth keeping.
Running back (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jordan Howard
There was a time where it looked like Jason Huntley might make the team as a fifth running back but he missed considerable time with a ribs injury, so he’s the final cut here. Based on how much Howard has played this training camp, it looks like he’s on the roster.
Receiver (6): DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
The first four are the easy ones. Smith, Reagor and Watkins are the Eagles’ starters and Ward is a steady backup. After that, Fulgham hasn’t had a great summer but he still had some good moments and deserves a roster spot, although he's not completely safe. The big question here is whether or not the Eagles keep five or six receivers. JJAW gets that final spot over John Hightower but this could also be a position the Eagles scour the waiver wire to find an upgrade.
Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Jack Stoll
Tight end is one of the toughest spots. The big question is about Jackson and whether or not the Eagles IR him now or later. If he goes on IR before final cuts, his season is over; if they wait, he can return. As good as Jackson was all summer, he’s still a developmental prospect and I’m not sure they need him this year. The surprise cut might be Richard Rodgers, but he’s a vested veteran who was available late into the offseason. They can bring him back later if needed. And Stoll is the UDFA who might make the roster. The Eagles lost Noah Togiai last year when they waived him so maybe they learned their lesson.
Offensive line (9): Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta
Yes, this is heavy on the offensive line but after seeing this line get decimated by injuries last year, that’s not a bad thing. There’s still a chance the Eagles could try to trade Dillard but it’s hard to imagine they’d ever cut the former first-rounder; so he sticks for now. The notable cuts are Le’Raven Clark, Matt Pryor, Brett Toth and Kayode Awosika. A couple of them will likely land on the practice squad. I have Landon Dickerson earmarked for the Non-football Injury list.
Defensive end (4): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan
The toughest cut at defensive end was rookie Tarron Jackson, the sixth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina. He flashed early in camp but not sure he’s ready to contribute. Kerrigan has missed some time with a broken thumb that needed surgery but he’ll be ready for the season. And besides, Milton Williams has been playing a lot on the edge.
Defensive tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams, T.Y. McGill
The top three are locks but then it became a question of Hassan Ridgeway vs. McGill. And, honestly, McGill has outplayed him this summer. That was unexpected but McGill has done enough to earn a spot. Will they give it to him? Not sure. As for rookie Marlon Tuipulotu, he finally started to show some good signs this week against the Jets but still doesn’t appear ready to contribute. Practice squad for him.
Linebacker (7): Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, T.J. Edwards, JaCoby Stevens, Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor, Patrick Johnson
Before the Minshew trade, I had the Eagles keeping an outrageous eight linebackers. But I needed to find a spot, so this is the first place I looked. Genard Avery is injured right now, so he can be waived/injured. If he clears waivers, then the Eagles can reach an injury settlement with him and bring him back later if they want. Johnson is the last guy in here. Seven is still a lot but I could see the Eagles putting Taylor on IR once they get through final cuts.
Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, Steve Nelson, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Craig James
The last cut at cornerback is Josiah Scott, just because it’s kind of a luxury to have a backup nickel-only player. The Eagles did trade for him this offseason, so maybe he makes the cut but a guy like James is more valuable because of what offers on special teams. I’m also cutting Michael Jacquet and Kevon Seymour.
Safety (5): Rodney McLeod, Anthony Harris, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Andrew Adams
The toughest cut here was Elijah Riley, who has become a special teams standout. But with McLeod’s status in question, I think the Eagles will opt to keep Adams, who has gotten some first-team reps recently. The Eagles can try to get Riley to the practice squad and call him up as situations dictate it.
Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato
These three have run unopposed all summer.
Practice squad (16): OL Kayode Awosika, RB Jason Huntley, S Elijah Riley, WR John Hightower, WR Andre Patton, CB Michael Jacquet, WR Marken Michel, S Grayland Arnold, CB Josiah Scott, DE Tarron Jackson, OL Brett Toth, DT Hassan Ridgeway, DT Marlon Tuipulotu, OL Ross Pierschbacher, TE Richard Rodgers, C Luke Juriga, *DE Matt Leo
NFI: Landon Dickerson
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