Steven Means

Former Eagles DE Steven Means signs with Falcons

Former Eagles DE Steven Means signs with Falcons

It took a week, but former Eagles defensive end Steven Means has found a new team. 

Means, 27, was signed by the Atlanta Falcons Monday as the corresponding move after Keanu Neal was put on IR. 

He can help them. 

The problem for Means in Philly was that he was just buried on the depth chart with little chance of playing. He was behind Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and the team wasn’t going to cut draft pick Josh Sweat. 

After the Eagles got their roster down to 53 members, Howie Roseman said Means was the final cut. 

“I think because of what he means as a person and a player, [it was] really hard,” Roseman said. “Hard one.” 

Means joined the Eagles’ practice squad back in 2015 but made the active roster coming into the next season. Over the next two years, he played minimally in 14 games but picked up two sacks. 

But Means did have a strong showing during this preseason, leading the team with three sacks and might be able to help the Falcons this season. 

His former teammates will be happy for his success. Jim Schwartz said he’s never been around a more respected player. Means didn’t play much but brought it in practice every day, helping the offense to get better over the last two seasons. 

More on the Eagles

Jim Schwartz on replacing Nigel Bradham Week 1, expectations for defense, and more

usa-jim-schwartz.jpg
USA Today Images

Jim Schwartz on replacing Nigel Bradham Week 1, expectations for defense, and more

Five nuggets from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s chat with the media Monday … 

Fighting Super Bowl hangover

Jim said he likes what he’s seen from his group in terms of maintaining the same work ethic it had during the Super Bowl season.

Every championship team talks about staying hungry. From what I’ve seen of the Eagles this preseason, they’ve done it.

“I think the biggest thing that comes if you haven't experienced it before, in my career I had only been to the Super Bowl one other time, is how short the offseason is," Schwartz said. "It comes up on you pretty quickly. You have to get guys transitioned to a different mindset right away. I like our group that way. 

“Our group has stayed hungry. They’ve stayed focused. It's a difficult thing to do with all the attention not just from fans around, but media attention and everything else. I'm sure you guys have seen the T-shirts of embracing the target. Last year we were the underdogs. We were the people that people didn't think could make their way through with the injuries we had and the other things. This year we're going to have the target on us. That takes a little bit of different mindset.”

Dealing with Bradham's suspension 

Schwartz said no one player will be asked to replace linebacker Nigel Bradham, who is serving a one-game NFL suspension this week for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

"We'll try to compartmentalize some guys." Schwartz said. "Our numbers are down just a little bit. We have a new guy coming in (D.J. Alexander), so we'll have guys covering up a lot of different roles up there. Whole goal is not to have any drop off in production. We have confidence in those guys. 

“There were games last year that we had to do that, also. Jordan (Hicks) missed most of, well just about all of, the Washington game. Carolina, we lost some guys and guys stepped in and got wins for us and we expect the same in this game.”

Moving on without Means

Howie Roseman said Saturday cutting Steven Means was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make as Eagles general manager. 

Means was a talented defensive end, a natural leader and a real favorite of his teammates in the locker room.

But the Eagles just didn’t have roster space for him, and Schwartz talked about that Sunday.

"We're fortunate that we're so deep at that position, that we had a hard time finding a spot for him," he said. "Everybody thinks the world of Steven. I don't know what you guys feel, but in our locker room, in our building, he is as respected as any player that I've been around. He'll have great success. He'll land on his feet and he'll have success. I just hope it's not against us.”

Continuing to grow in Year 3

The Eagles ranked fourth in the NFL in both yards and points allowed last year, their best ranking since 2008 and matching their best since 2004.

Schwartz, now in his third year as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, spoke Sunday about his expectations for this year’s defense.

“The biggest thing is just continue to win games," he said. "That's all we judge ourselves on. If we win games, we're happy. If we don't, we're not. Our job is to keep the score down. So points allowed are always going to be part of that job that help us win games and then the things that affect points allowed: Third-down stops, takeaways, red zone. Those all contribute to getting off the field and keeping the score down. 

“Then the other part of it that we did last year and again, you can't count on things carrying over, we had a big-play component to us. We were able to score the football or put the offense in really good field position so that they could score. That was a consistent theme.

"Those are all fundamental things that we do and that we ask the defense to do. If we are playing good defense, then we'll hit all those targets.”

The challenge of replacing Patrick Robinson

Schwartz said it won’t be just second-year pro Sidney Jones manning the slot Thursday night against the Falcons.

Rookie Avonte Maddox worked in the slot a lot during the preseason, and safeties Corey Graham and Malcolm Jenkins also have slot ability.

“We'll have that job covered by multiple players," Schwartz said. "That's not going to be just one person goes in and puts a slot hat on and he's out there all the time. … 

“Again, just like the linebackers, I don't want to announce anybody that's going out. I think that game plans and personnel things are things that are better left unsaid. Particularly at this time of the year leaves a little bit of uncertainty, but we do have multiple ways that we are going to cover it.”

More on the Eagles

Howie Roseman: Cutting DE Steven Means was 'a tough one'

Howie Roseman: Cutting DE Steven Means was 'a tough one'

Fan-favorite Steven Means was one of the bigger surprises when the Eagles’ roster cuts were announced late Saturday afternoon, and Howie Roseman said it was wasn't easy to say goodbye to the inspirational leader.

Means was one of a small group of players remaining from the Chip Kelly era, and his terrific personality and boundless energy made him one of the more popular guys on the team both inside the locker room and among fans.

Means, a 27-year-old defensive end, had four sacks this preseason, including three in the preseason finale against the Jets just two days before he was released.

Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, said Means was the final player the Eagles released, which means he was agonizingly close to sticking.

But the Eagles have so many talented pass rushers, and Roseman knows that he has to take personal emotion out of the equation when finalizing the roster.

“Steven was the last cut, and I think because of what he means as a person and a player, (it was) really hard,” Roseman said. 

“Hard one. Again, I think for us, as we get going here, you have to think about where we are from a roster perspective and where we are on the 46 (gameday roster) and what we need to give our coaches the best chance to win this week and the weeks going forward.”

The Eagles kept five defensive ends, including a 21-year-old fourth-round pick from Florida State, Josh Sweat, who was simply too talented to risk losing on the waiver wire.

Also on the 53 are Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Chris Long, who were on the Super Bowl team last year, and Michael Bennett.

“We're deep at some positions that are hard to find, and at the same time, it doesn't make it any easier,” Roseman said. “Incredible person, a guy who's meant a lot to us on and off the field, and [it was] a tough one.”

Means was originally a fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers out of Buffalo back in 2013. He played for Tampa in 2013, Tampa and the Ravens in 2014 before spending much of 2015 on the Texans’ practice squad.

The Eagles signed Means late in the 2015 season, giving him the roster spot that opened up when they released Miles Austin. 

He played in eight games in 2016 and six last year and had one sack per season in limited snaps (36 in 2016, 53 in 2017). 

He didn’t play in the postseason but earned a Super Bowl ring after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Means’ release means there are only six players on the 53-man roster who joined the Eagles during Kelly’s head coaching regime. The others are Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson (2013), Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles (2014) and Nelson Agholor and Jordan Hicks (2015). Chris Maragos, who was placed on the Reserve/PUP Saturday, also joined the Eagles in 2014.

More on the Eagles