Atlanta Falcons

2020 NFL free agency: Should Eagles have interest in Desmond Trufant?

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USA Today Images

2020 NFL free agency: Should Eagles have interest in Desmond Trufant?

The Eagles are expected to be big players for a cornerback in free agency and another intriguing name is about to hit the market. 

The Falcons are reportedly going to release Desmond Trufant this week, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

According to NFL Network, the Falcons tried to first trade Trufant but couldn’t find any takers, so now they’ll cut him. The former Pro Bowler was owed a base salary of $10.75 million in 2020, which is likely why the Falcons were unable to trade him. 

But Trufant is still pretty good. 

Now 29, Trufant had a toe injury and then a broken forearm in 2019 that limited him to just nine games. But he still managed to pull in a career-high four interceptions. Two of those four INTs came against Carson Wentz and the Eagles on Sept. 15 in Atlanta. 

That, of course, isn’t Trufant’s only connection to the Eagles. This offseason, the Eagles hired Marquand Manuel as their new defensive backs coach. Manuel was Trufant’s position coach and later his defensive coordinator in Atlanta. 

In fact, Trufant’s only Pro Bowl season in 2015 came in his first year under Manuel, who was the Falcons’ secondary coach for two seasons before taking over as defensive coordinator for two seasons. 

The NFL’s legal tampering period is scheduled to begin at noon on Monday and free agency will officially start at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. With around $40 million in cap space, the Eagles are expected to be big players in free agency, especially at the cornerback position. 

The player they’ve been linked to most is Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, who will likely command around $17 million per season. Trufant is older but would be a more cost-effective option and with his connection to Manuel, it’s an intriguing one. 

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More on the Eagles

Falcons force Eagles into practice squad cornerback swap

Falcons force Eagles into practice squad cornerback swap

The Eagles on Tuesday re-signed rookie cornerback Ajene Harris from USC to their practice squad. 

The reason? 

The Falcons signed cornerback D.J. Wright off the Eagles practice squad. 

And guess why the Falcons had a roster spot? They put Johnathan Cyprien on Injured Reserve. 

You'll remember the Eagles traded Cyprien to the Falcons on Sept. 30 for linebacker Duke Riley. Cyprien played just one game for the Falcons before his latest trip to IR. Riley played 22 special teams snaps against the Jets in his Eagles debut. It looks like the Eagles will win that trade. 

Anyway, this is a reminder that for teams, players on the practice squad are not safe. Any team can sign them away to their active roster at any time. Now, if the Eagles really wanted to prevent Wright from leaving, they could have tried to find a 53-man roster spot for him, but they didn't. 

This is the second stint on the practice squad for Harris this season. The rookie from USC was on a tryout at rookie minicamp and wasn't signed until training camp was already underway. He impressed the Eagles enough to stick around. 

Since there has been plenty of practice squad movement early this season, here's an updated look at who the Eagles have on their 10-man squad: 

WR Robert Davis 
WR Marcus Green 
CB Ajene Harris 
DT Bruce Hector
QB Kyle Lauletta
OG Sua Opeta
TE Josh Perkins 
RB Boston Scott
LB Alex Singleton 
WR Greg Ward

Why Eagles think they can get more out of recently acquired Duke Riley

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AP Images

Why Eagles think they can get more out of recently acquired Duke Riley

After starting 16 games his first two seasons with the Falcons, Duke Riley hadn’t played a single defensive snap in 2019. But don’t try telling the new Eagles linebacker he lost his job in Atlanta.

“It wasn’t like my role was reduced,” Riley said Wednesday, his first time meeting with the media since he was traded to the Eagles for safety Johnathan Cyprien and a swap of late-round draft choices. “I just had some setbacks.”

A third-round pick in 2017, Riley’s tenure with the Falcons was viewed as a disappointment. Though he excelled on special teams, missed tackles were an issue, so much so it reportedly led to his being replaced in the starting lineup last December.

Is that the whole story? Riley thinks not, and admits there was “shock” initially upon learning he was dealt.

“I had two surgeries my first two years, so I guess that’s one of the reasons why,” said Riley, who’s dealt with some injuries — most notably, a torn meniscus during his rookie season. “And I made some plays that I wish I wouldn’t have made, which we all do. It’s the NFL, no one’s perfect.”

There are reasons to believe the Eagles hope to get more out of Riley. The club showed legitimate interest prior to the 2017 draft, hosting the LSU product on one of their top-30 visits. Apparently, there was buzz around the NovaCare Complex before the Eagles completed the trade for Riley, too.

“The guys said they’ve been talking about me here,” said Riley. “I guess they wanted me, so it’s good to be wanted.”

Riley, 25, measures 6-foot-1, 218 pounds with sub-4.6 speed. He’s also under contract through 2020, so the Eagles have the rest of this year and all of next to kick the tires, perhaps even coach him up.

“It was good for me to have a fresh start,” said Riley, who recorded 93 tackles and appeared in two playoff games with the Falcons. “It’s like coming into the NFL again, but I’m better because I know what to expect. I know what to do. I know how hard I work. I know what I bring. I know the energy I have.

“I know the type of guy that I am, so I think it will all work out for me.”

To begin with, Riley is behind Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown and Nathan Gerry on the Eagles’ depth chart and will likely contribute exclusively on special teams. He’s basically taking the place of L.J. Fort, who was released last week.

Riley embraces that role, which is how he was able to hang on to a roster spot in Atlanta despite losing his grip on a starting job.

“Special teams is a good place to get ready for a game,” said Riley. “It’s a good place to learn and take shots. It’s a good place to work technique in your blocking or tackling, so I take special teams as serious as anything.”

Beyond this season, Grugier-Hill and Brown are currently slated to become free agents, so it’s not unfathomable Riley could play his way into a bigger part for the Eagles down the line. It’s a flyer entirely worth taking on a talented athlete who will bolster their special teams immediately — and maybe just needs to overcome a few “setbacks” to find success in the NFL.