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August 20, 2021

Eagles 53-man roster projection, after the second preseason game

With the Philadelphia Eagles' second preseason game in the books, let's go ahead and update our 53-man final roster projections, shall we? (Yes, we shall.)

Quarterback (2): Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco

Cuts (1): Nick Mullens

You guys have seen Mullens play, right? I think the Eagles add a quarterback during waivers, and Mullens isn't even on the practice squad.

Running back (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jordan Howard

Cuts (2): Jason Huntley, Elijah Holyfield

I believe the Eagles would really like to keep Huntley, however, they can probably safely get him through waivers and then stash him on the practice squad. Why?

  1. When the Eagles claimed him last year at 53-man cutdowns, they were near the end of the waiver order, which means that there wasn't a lot of interest in him then, so why would there be more interest in him now after not having done anything during the regular season last year?
  2. In the first preseason game, he played 10 snaps. He had four carries for 15 yards. He also had one catch on three targets for four yards, and a drop. He did have a nice kick return, but that's not likely to have wowed anyone. He didn't play in preseason game No. 2.

So they'll roll the dice there a bit, I think, because it's just going to be too hard to keep five running backs.

Wide receiver (6): DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Cuts (4): John Hightower, Jhamon Ausbon, Marken Michel, Andre Patton, Hakeem Butler

The hardest player for me to decide on is Arcega-Whiteside. If I'm the GM... 👋. But I'm not. The real GM picked him in the second round in the 2019 draft, and has a history of overrating homegrown players.

And then there's Fulgham, who has done nothing in camp to prove that he should be on the team, much less an important part of the receiving corps. I still believe he'll stick on the final 53, but it's not the certainty it seemed to be a few weeks ago.

Tight end (2): Dallas Goedert, Tyree Jackson

Temporary cuts (1): Richard Rodgers

Cuts (2): Jason Croom, Jack Stoll

Traded (1): Zach Ertz

To begin, I'm still hanging onto the belief that the team will trade Ertz, because, again, there's no good reason to keep him on the roster this season at $8.25 million. Then again, it made no sense whatsoever to have an injured, washed, and controversy-stirring Alshon Jeffery occupy a roster spot for 10 weeks last year when he could have been on the PUP list, so who knows? Anyway, ideally the theoretical Ertz trade would occur before 53-man cutdowns, so I'll hold true to my belief that they'll get it done before then.

Losing Jackson for 8-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back makes the rest of this positional group a tougher one to figure out. The Eagles have three options with Jackson.

  1. They can put him on injured reserve before cutdowns, which would end his season immediately. They would save a roster spot, and Jackson would be back with the team in 2022.
  2. They can keep him on the roster through cutdowns, and he would count initially as one of the 53 roster spots. They could later place him on short term IR, where he would be required to stay for at least three weeks.
  3. They can cut him, hope he makes it through waivers, and add him to the practice squad.

In my opinion, you can go ahead and eliminate option No. 3. That's not happening. Jackson showed too much this summer to expose him to the rest of the league. He is unquestionably a player you want to develop.

There's logic to going with option 1, however, once he goes on season-ending IR, he can no longer practice with the team, and obviously, he's not playing in any games. My feeling is that Jackson has shown enough (more so than your garden variety intriguing prospect) to want to keep him practicing with the team all year, particularly because he's learning a new position, and I think he could be good enough already to eventually get into games this season. Continuing to allow him to progress in-season — especially if he can get real-game action under his belt — is worth more to me in this case than whatever other borderline roster guy you'd get to keep at initial cutdowns instead.

The team could also temporarily cut Rodgers, a vested veteran who would not be subjected to waivers, and then sign him back to the team whenever Jackson goes on short-term IR.

The debate of what they should do aside, I don't think the team would have given us a timeframe for Jackson's recovery if they intended to put him on season-ending IR.

Offensive line (9): Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta, Brett Toth

Cuts (5): Le'Raven Clark, Matt Pryor, Kayode Awosika, Ross Pierschbacher, Harry Crider

PUP (1): Landon Dickerson

Trade: Andre Dillard

Let's go bullet points here:

• To begin, I would trade Dillard for literally anything. Dillard for a 7? Thank you, done. Oh, you'd prefer Dillard plus a 7 for a 6? Sure, let's do it. Oh, you're driving a hard bargain, and you want to do a conditional 7, that I only get if he plays X number of snaps? Well, I don't like that, sir/ma'am, but, fine, I guess. Just take him.

But to be clear, I would only trade him. I would not cut him. If the Eagles trade him, they would not be responsible for his $3,801,730 in guaranteed salary the next two seasons. If they cut him, they would.

That may seem like a "hot take" to some, but honestly, I think he's been one of the worst players on the 90-man roster this summer. Like, if I were an alien from another planet that also had football, and I got dropped off by my spaceship at the NovaCare Complex with a chance to observe practices having no idea of the histories of any of these players, I would think Dillard was some camp body from Bowling Green with no chance of making the roster. He's been that bad. Just take whatever you can get, and move on. And I do think they're more than willing to listen to offers for Dillard, and it would be better for all parties to move on, with Dillard having a chance to realize some his potential in a new city.

But would they take something close to the meager offers laid out above? Eh, probably not, because again, they wildly overrate their own players' worth. Still, I just can't get myself to include him in my 53-man projection.

Side note: If you plan on inquiring how I would know anything about Bowling Green in my alien scenario, but I would have no idea about professional players, well you got me there, jerk.

• As for Dickerson, the Eagles have enough depth along their offensive line that they should have no reason to rush him back to the lineup before he's truly 100 percent ready. 

• I think Awosika is going to be a high-priority practice squad player.

• I really have no idea what to think of Clark, after he was surprisingly activated from the PUP list. If the team trades Dillard, I think he'll compete with Toth for the last OL spot, which would essentially be the backup LT (but also the ability to play elsewhere).

Defensive line (9): Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Milton Williams, Hassan Ridgeway, T.Y. McGill

Cuts (6): Tarron Jackson, Marlon Tuipulotu, Joe Ostman, Raequan Williams, JaQuan Bailey, Matt Leo

Jackson had a decent start to camp, but has cooled off, while Tuipulotu had an awful game last Thursday night in which he got bullied by Steelers OL reserves. McGill deserves a roster spot with the way he has played this summer.

Linebacker (8): Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, T.J. Edwards, Shaun Bradley, Patrick JohnsonGenard Avery, Davion Taylor, JaCoby Stevens

Cuts (1): Rashad Smith

Eight would be a hell of a lot of linebackers, but keep in mind that Johnson and Avery will be playing the "Anthony Barr role."

If the Eagles were to make use of a phony IR injury, I think the linebacker position would make some sense, with Taylor and Stevens being the best candidates for that. 

Trust me, it hurts me more than you to keep eight linebackers, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, Steve Nelson, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Craig James

Cuts (4): Josiah Scott, Michael Jacquet, Kevon Seymour, Lavert Hill

Scott was the toughest cut to make here, but he's a slot corner only in a defense that values versatility. He's a good candidate for the practice squad.

Safety (5): Anthony Harris, Rodney McLeod, K'Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Elijah Riley

Cuts (3): Andrew Adams, Grayland Arnold, Blake Countess

Riley has been a core special teamer throughout camp, and he was a rare positive standout on the Eagles' third-team defense against the Steelers.

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato

All of the Eagles' specialists are running unopposed, and have played well enough.

Practice squad (16)

  1. QB from some other team
  2. RB Jason Huntley
  3. WR John Hightower
  4. TE Jack Stoll
  5. OL Matt Pryor
  6. C Luke Juriga
  7. OG Kayode Awosika
  8. DE Tarron Jackson
  9. DE Matt Leo
  10. DT Marlon Tuipulotu
  11. DT Raequan Williams
  12. LB Joe Ostman
  13. CB Kevon Seymour
  14. CB Josiah Scott
  15. CB Michael Jacquet
  16. S Andrew Adams
  17. S Grayland Arnold

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