March 03, 2021
The Eagles roster has kind of been falling into a state of disrepair — and for a number of reasons. The team has drafted poorly, it has retained aging veterans past their primes, and it has a ton of dead cap money (thanks, Carson) that will force the club to find players on the cheap this coming season.
The NFC East is still pretty bad, but that might not be reason enough for even the most ardently optimistic Eagles fans to think this team will be anything aside from trash in 2021. After all, they are predicted to be tied for last (with the Giants) in the NFC East according to Unibet, at +425. And that is largely due to their lackluster roster.
If you were building the Eagles from scratch, and wanted to create a contender, which players would you even keep? Would it be that many? That's a question we are going to theoretically try to answer because, you know, that's what offseasons are for!
Let's break down the roster (we'll use the top 51, via OverTheCap.com) into a few categories to make this easier:
Iosua Opeta, Shakial Taylor, Jason Croom, Ross Pierschbacher, Marcus Epps, Caleb Wilson, Brett Toth, Kevon Seymour, Blake Countess, T.Y. McGill, Genard Avery, Craig James, Treyvon Hester, Matt Pryor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Rick Lovato, Marquise Goodwin, Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson
Yes, we've never heard of some of these players too — but suffice it to say, we are instantly cutting all the training camp bodies currently on the roster. Almost half of the 51 players fall in this category, and many will say good riddance to Jeffery and Jackson. We want no part of these guys. Also, enough is enough with JJAW — we're moving on. If you strongly object to a blanket cutting of these players, drop us a line in the comments as we would love to hear why...
Javon Hargrave, Darius Slay, Jake Elliott, Rodney McLeod
Hargrave's cap number next year is over $15 million. He had 4.5 sacks last year. Yawn. Elliott had his worst season ever last year but the Eagles are stuck with him, to the tune of $3.3 million. He's replaceable. Slay is in decline and in his 30s and is a luxury for a contending team — but is he worth $12 million for a rebuilding Eagles team? An argument could be made he should be kept in this theoretical scenario, but the Birds seem to have pretty bad luck with cornerbacks. McLeod is no doubt talented, and could provide some depth on a Super Bowl-caliber team, but he could be replaced with a younger and cheaper option with the same kind of production.
Greg Ward, Jack Driscoll, Avonte Maddox, Andre Dillard
These four players are... fine. They are probably real NFL players worthy of roster spots as reserves somewhere, but they are not guys who would or should be starting on a playoff-caliber team. Dillard has yet to show he can start in the NFL and Driscoll is replacement level, as are Maddox and Ward. Maybe these are good trade pieces? Or maybe you'd be better off just starting over.
Shaun Bradley, Quez Watkins, John Hightower, Davion Taylor, K'Von Wallace
Could cases be made that these young soon-to-be sophomore athletes deserve a chance to prove themselves? Sure. But even with the Eagles as bad as they were last season, those players (plus others) barely played well enough to get on the field. If we are starting the Eagles from scratch, these guys would be borderline calls.
Jalen Reagor, Jalen Hurts, Jordan Mailata, Boston Scott, T.J. Edwards, Nate Herbig, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Travis Fulgham, Alex Singleton
There are no doubt players in this category you like — a lot. Reagor and Hurts could burst with potential, Sweat and Barnett have, at times, been beasts on the D-Line, heck, Boston Scott and Travis Fulgham have entire games named after each of them. But none of them have done nearly enough to prove they can be relied on to produce, or even start at their respective positions. If we are building this fantasy roster, we'd probably take these nine guys on a case-by-case basis, but a handful of them will likely be left on the cutting room floor.
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Zack Ertz
This is the hard part. Almost all of these guys have a decent amount of football left to play (assuming they all return). Cox is still probably one of the top five defensive tackles in football, even at 30. Graham is older, and at this point could probably find a lucrative role as a part-time pass rusher, like the very successful one Chris Long played when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Johnson, Kelce and Brooks are potential anchors for the Eagles offensive line and could help Miles Sanders break through next season. And as much as it is painful to say goodbye to Ertz, Dallas Goedert is the best tight end on the team and Ertz would be too costly as a No. 2. If you are building a team, from scratch, these six guys probably make the cut as you will be looking to try and compete, and will need a little leadership in the locker room.
Isaac Seumalo, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders
So who is left? Well, we have a player who is capable of leading the NFL in rushing in Sanders, who is a legit double-threat. We have a solid starting guard in Seumalo and we have a tight end with top-five potential in Goedert. Is anyone else even close to being a franchise cornerstone? It's also worth noting — as Jimmy Kempski pointed on this subject — that all three play positions that are "relatively unimportant." But, still, the Eagles are set at left guard, tight end and running back, so there's that...
So how many Eagles players would you keep? And more importantly, how many players on the above roster actually make you excited?
It seems hard to justify more than, say, 20 (39%) being players you'd want to keep around in an ideal world, and arguments could be made for keeping even fewer. What is clear is the Eagles really don't have a strong core in place to bridge to the next contending version of the Eagles.
The 2021 draft is really, really important, and Howie Roseman and the front office are under a ton of pressure to add players who'll be in the "cornerstone" section of this list for years to come.
*Alex Singleton was meant to be in our "they've had their moments" section, but was incorrectly placed in the "get lost" section in a prior edit.
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