The Eagles had to cut their roster down to 85 players this week and they’ll need to be down to their initial 53-man roster before the end of the month.
With two more preseason games and another round of joint practice left, there’s still a lot to learn.
But here’s my latest crack at a 53-man roster:
Quarterback (2): Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco
After a strong start to camp, Nick Mullens hasn’t looked great over the last few weeks and I don’t think there’s a need to keep him on the active roster. The Eagles should be able to get him to their practice squad. It’s a risk I’d definitely be willing to take.
Running back (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jordan Howard
Early in camp, there was a good chance Kerryon Johnson would make the team but then he popped up on the injury report with an ominous knee injury and got cut. With him out of the picture I’m now pretty confident Howard will make the team. Not only has he been getting most of the second-team reps, but he’s also been an up back on kick return, indicating a roster spot. The tough cut here was Jason Huntley, who has been dealing with a ribs injury. There’s a chance the Eagles keep five running backs and if they do, he’s the last guy in because of his pure speed and kick return ability.
Receiver (5): DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, Quez Watkins
These five are written in stone. If the Eagles keep six wideouts, my money is on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over John Hightower. It would actually be a risk to cut JJAW because he might actually get claimed. He’s a former second-round pick who could use the change of scenery. I have struggled with the idea of keeping him as the sixth wideout because he doesn’t play a ton of special teams and I’m not sure he’s worth keeping as a big-bodied slot.
Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Tyree Jackson
This is the first time I’ve kept Ertz on the roster. There’s still a possibility he gets traded but it’s probably time to start entertaining the idea that he’s actually going to stick around on the team this year … as skeptical as I remain. If he does, then the Eagles have a difficult decision to make. The Eagles shouldn't risk losing Jackson after the camp he’s had. The former college quarterback looks too good too early to subject him to waivers. Meanwhile, Richard Rodgers was available really late in free agency. So maybe the Eagles cut him and then bring him back in Week 2 when they don’t have to guarantee his salary as a vested veteran.
Offensive line (10): Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta, Le’Raven Clark
Clark’s coming off the PUP list really threw a wrench into roster projections because now the Reserve/PUP is out of the question. We haven’t seen much of Clark yet because he’s still ramping up, but assuming he looks healthy, he’s on the roster. Trading Dillard would make sense, but I’m just not sure there will be any takers. The one possible cut here is Opeta, but at times he’s been the first backup guard on the field and the Eagles have already put years of time into him. This is heavy on offensive linemen but after watching that unit get decimated by injury last year, it might be worth it. I expect Landon Dickerson to start the season on the NFI (non-football injury) list.
Defensive end (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Tarron Jackson
The top four players here are safe, while the sixth-round pick Jackson isn't. But he has shown enough flashes during training camp to leave me intrigued. If he makes the team, he’ll be one of the last players in.
Defensive tackle: (4) Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams, Hassan Ridgeway
Cox, Hargrave and Williams are all locks. That last spot came down to Ridgeway or T.Y. McGill. It’s worth noting that with Hargrave out of practice on Tuesday, Ridgeway worked with the first team. So despite the fact that McGill has outplayed him this summer, I’m giving the nod to Ridgeway. The Eagles would probably like to keep McGill around on the practice squad if he doesn’t get a job elsewhere. Rookie Marlon Tuipulotu doesn’t look ready to contribute so he’s a cut too.
Linebacker (7): Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor, T.J. Edwards, JaCoby Stevens, Shaun Bradley, Genard Avery
The big change from my previous projection is the addition of Avery. That hybrid SAM position looks like it’s going to be a part of Jonathan Gannon’s defense and Avery has been getting the most time there. But also keep an eye on seventh-rounder Patrick Johnson. I have him as a cut for now, but he has been coming on strong and might push for a spot. Yes, keeping seven linebackers seems crazy and I’m wondering if Stevens could end up as an IR stash. But if they get a couple of these guys (Taylor, Stevens) to the 53-man roster and then IR them, they won’t miss the entire season.
Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, Steve Nelson, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Craig James
The top four are locks. After that, James might not be the best option as a backup corner but he’s a very good special teams player and is worth keeping around for that part alone. Josiah Scott is the last cut. He’s a nickel only defender and even though the Eagles traded for him, it’s not enough to warrant a roster spot.
Safety (5): Rodney McLeod, Anthony Harris, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Elijah Riley
I’m still not sure if McLeod will be ready for Week 1 but even if he isn’t I don’t think he’ll be out long enough to keep him on PUP, which would force him to miss the first six games. Because of that situation, the idea of the Eagles’ keeping five safeties makes a little more sense. Riley might be a surprise here but he’s been a special teams standout and if it comes down to him or veteran Andrew Adams, it would be wise for the Eagles to keep the player who might have more upside.
Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato
These three are running unopposed this summer.
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