Source: Eagles adding veteran QB Cody Kessler

Source: Eagles adding veteran QB Cody Kessler

The Eagles on Monday are going to sign former third-round quarterback Cody Kessler, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

NFL Network first reported the move. 

Kessler, 26, will join a suddenly crowded quarterback room with Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson and Luis Perez. 

Wentz is obviously the starter and Sudfeld is his backup, but perhaps Kessler will push Sudfeld and fight for a roster spot. Although, the Eagles did use a fifth-round pick on Thorson out of Northwestern and before that signed Perez from the AAF. 

Unless Perez is released, the Eagles will have five quarterbacks on their 90-man roster when OTAs begin on May 21. 

During the offseason, the Eagles said they weren’t going to just hand Sudfeld the backup quarterback job, so perhaps Kessler will battle him for it. While the Eagles have been high on Sudfeld, Kessler has considerably more NFL experience. But Sudfeld will also make around $3 million this season after the Eagles used a second-round RFA tender on him. Still, having competition at the QB spots after Wentz isn’t a bad thing. 

On Friday, Doug Pederson wouldn’t say whether or not Wentz will be on the field for OTAs later this month. Wentz has been healing from a stress fracture in his back. But it seems unlikely this signing has anything to do with that. It seems this is a depth signing to create some added competition for Sudfeld and Thorson in the spring and summer. 

Kessler was taken by the Browns in the third round of the 2016 draft out of USC. That was the same year Jared Goff went No. 1 and Wentz followed to the Eagles at No. 2. Kessler spent just two years with the Browns before he was traded to the Jaguars, where he spent the 2018 season. 

In three NFL seasons, Kessler has played in 17 games with 12 starts. He has a 2-10 record, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,215 yards, 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. His career passer rating is 83.7. To put Kessler’s 17 games in perspective, Sudfeld has played in just three career NFL games. 

In his eight starts as a rookie in Cleveland, Kessler went 0-8. He was 2-2 last year with the Jaguars, but was released just a few days ago. 

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Injury-plagued Eagles facing roster 'chess match'

Injury-plagued Eagles facing roster 'chess match'

The Eagles are facing some challenging roster decisions this week as they deal with a rash of injuries that are potentially serious enough to sideline players but not serious enough to land them on Injured Reserve.

What that means is Howie Roseman may have to find some temporary space on the 53-man roster.

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (broken foot), wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin), tight end Dallas Goedert (calf) and running back Corey Clement (shoulder) all either got hurt in Atlanta Sunday or in Goedert’s case aggravated an existing injury.

Making this more complicated is nobody knows exactly when any of these guys will be back.

The Eagles play two games in the next nine days — the Lions home Sunday and the Packers a week from Thursday at Lambeau Field — and they need healthy bodies.

Even if for instance Jackson is found to be healthy enough to play Sunday, can the Eagles risk going into the game with only Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, knowing that Jackson could potentially aggravate the injury?

The Eagles found themselves in that bind Sunday in Atlanta when they went into the Falcons game with only two tight ends active — Zach Ertz and Goedert — even though Goedert had missed most of training camp with that same calf injury.

So what happens if the Eagles want to add two healthy receivers, a defensive tackle and a tight end?

Let’s say they want to sign Jordan Matthews and promote Greg Ward from the practice squad, promote one of the practice squad tight ends — Alex Ellis or Josh Perkins — and add a healthy defensive tackle — perhaps Bruce Hector from the practice squad — they could potentially have to clear out four spots on the 53.

Which isn’t as easy as it seems.

You can start releasing bottom-of-the-roster guys, but some of those guys are players the Eagles feel strongly about as contributors in the future, and the Eagles could risk losing them if they try to waive them onto the practice squad or land them on the street for a few weeks.

It’s a risk they just may have to take.

“That's the chess match we have to find out in the next couple days,” Doug Pederson said. “We have a couple games here now in 11 or 12 days. We'll make it work. That's just what we do. We find a way, we make it work, we coach the guys up that are going to play, and we go play.”

Here’s a look at some possible moves the Eagles could make, depending on how many healthy players they feel like they need to add going into Sunday.

Release Craig James

The Eagles added the 23-year-old undrafted cornerback to the 53 from the practice squad after the opener when they moved Ellis from the 53 to the practice squad. James played one snap on defense and 11 on special teams Sunday in Atlanta.

Place Jordan Mailata on injured reserve 

Mailata has been dealing with a back injury and the chances of him playing this year are minimal. The problem with IR’ing him is that he won’t be able to practice, and even the scout team reps he gets are valuable.

Release Nate Herbig

The 21-year-old undraftred rookie guard was a surprise on the 53 after final cuts, and the Eagles like his potential as a future interior offensive lineman. I would think there’s a decent chance he would clear waivers at this point in the season, but you never know. Is a team really going to cut a guy from its 53 a couple weeks into the season to claim Nate Herbig?

Release Matt Pryor

Pryor, a massive offensive lineman, was a 2018 sixth-round draft pick. He’s been inactive for 19 of his 20 career games and didn’t play in the other one. He didn’t have a particularly strong preseason but the Eagles see something in the kid and I’m sure they don’t want to cut him, but they may have to.

Release Rudy Ford

Ford is the guy the Eagles acquired from the Cards in a summer trade for Hector, who the Cards wound up releasing. He may be a no-name guy, but he’s been a valuable special teamer so far, with 35 snaps in the Eagles’ first two games, fourth-most on the team. 

Release one of the defensive ends

The Eagles are heavy at defensive end with Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller and Daeshon Hall backing up Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. Six defensive ends is a luxury they may not be able to afford. Miller is last on the depth chart, but he’s a rookie fourth-round pick and could well be claimed if the Eagles put him on the street. Hall has been inactive but had such a strong preseason it’s hard to imagine the Eagles cutting ties with him. And Sweat has emerged as the third end, getting more snaps Sunday than even Curry. Tough call.

Place Tim Jernigan on IR

This is a last resort. If the Eagles IR Jernigan he would miss a minimum of eight weeks. If he’s only going to be out a month, you’d have a healthy Tim Jernigan on IR for several weeks. If the Eagles project the injury to be closer to a six-week situation, IR could be a viable option.

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Miles Sanders still confident as Eagles wisely show patience in their young running back

Miles Sanders still confident as Eagles wisely show patience in their young running back

It’s safe to say the first two games of his career haven’t exactly gone to plan for Miles Sanders. 

The Eagles are wisely not hitting the panic button yet. 

And Sanders isn’t panicking either. 

My confidence is high as could be,” Sanders said after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta. “I’m competing at a level I’ve always wanted to be in. I’m competing with guys that love this game. They bring that all out every single play. My confidence … nothing to worry about really. It’s a long season. Come back next week and get an opportunity.

Despite how much Sanders has looked like a rookie early this season, Doug Pederson and the Eagles are showing some patience with their second-round pick, who wowed the team for a solid month at training camp. 

Right now, Sanders looks like a college running back struggling to adjust to the NFL. One of his main issues has been trying to bounce plays outside instead of running within the scheme. It’s something with which young running backs sometimes struggle. And it’s something Pederson said they want to show him on tape and help him improve. 

I’m really confident in Miles,” Pederson said Monday. “I think the more opportunities he gets, he'll get better. He missed some things, a young running back, missed a couple of the holes. A couple of the holding calls he tried to bounce outside, and we got a couple holding calls which are going to happen. 

There are some things that he can get better, but our confidence in him is really high, extremely high and we are going to continue to play him and get him the reps.

Don’t get it twisted either: I like the patience to a certain point, but Sanders needs to get better and he needs to get better quickly. 

Because while there’s definitely a huge upside in the faith the Eagles are showing in him — Sanders was clearly the best running back on the practice field all summer — the Eagles can’t wait forever. They have a team they think can compete for a Super Bowl this year, so if Sanders can’t get over this rookie hump soon, at least the Eagles kind of know what they have in Jordan Howard. He’s at least proven himself in the NFL. 

Sanders has 21 carries for 53 yards in two games. After Sunday’s contests, that average of 2.52 yards per attempt ranked him 29th of 30 among running backs with 20-plus carries this season. Even if that 21-yard touchdown in Week 1 counted (it was called back for a hold), his average would still just be 3.19, good for 26th among those 30 backs. 

But Sanders was a second-round pick for a reason. The Eagles fell in love with him during the pre-draft process for a reason. And they owe it to him and themselves to see if he can’t work through these early struggles. 

Through two games, Sanders leads the Eagles’ running back rotation in snaps, carries and total touches. And based on Pederson’s comments, it doesn’t look like they’re ready for a big change soon. 

We’ll see if that patience pays off. 

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