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September 01, 2021

5 roster moves that make sense for the Eagles after 53-man cutdowns

Because the Philadelphia Eagles finished 4-11-1 in 2021, they are sixth in the waiver order, and will have a chance to add players around the league who were waived at final cutdowns.

Because they have a roster that severely lacks depth, and because they'll be in a rare good position to add players, the expectation is that the Eagles will be active on the waiver wire on Wednesday. Here are five post-cutdown roster moves that make sense.

Claim Jaguars WR Collin Johnson (23) 

Johnson is a 6'6, 222-pound receiver who was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Johnson caught 18 passes on 31 targets for 272 yards (15.1 YPC) and 2 TDs. That is reasonably good production from a fifth-round rookie receiver, and it's noteworthy that Eagles front office consultant Dave Caldwell presided over the Jags' 2020 draft.

A highlight reel. (You have to click "Watch on YouTube" because the NFL doesn't allow embeds on other websites for some reason.)

The Eagles have three smaller receivers with speed in DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins, but they lack size. Johnson could be a good complement to the Eagles' speed at WR.

It's worth noting that the Eagles have already traded for two players that Caldwell formerly drafted, in Gardner Minshew and Josiah Scott.

Claim Browns WR KhaDarel Hodge (26)

I noticed Hodge when I took a look at all of Josiah Scott's snaps in 2020. Hodge was working out of the slot against Scott, and he was beating him with his size (he's 6'2, 205). A quick highlight reel:

Unlike many of the Eagles' other receivers, Hodge also has experience as a core special teamer, and he even had 12 tackles in 2019, which was tied for seventh in the NFL that season.

MORE: Eagles announce initial 53-man roster, with analysis | Eagles trade OL Matt Pryor to Colts

Claim Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels (25)

Samuels is a big, versatile back at 6'0, 225. In college at North Carolina State, Samuels played a little bit of everything, from running back, to fullback, to wide receiver, to tight end. He was an intriguing utility prospect in the mold of Trey Burton.

In Pittsburgh, Samuels has mainly been a backup running back who had a really nice rookie season as a runner, followed by less effective seasons in 2019 and 2020. His appeal is as a receiver out of the backfield, as he has 82 career catches for 550 yards and 4 TDs, in a reserve role.

It's also probably noteworthy that Samuels had a nice preseason showing against the Eagles, when he ran 10 times for 45 yards, and had 1 reception for 17 yards.

Within the Eagles' system, Samuels would make sense as a utility player who has some bulk to handle tough inside runs

Sign former 49ers/Giants RB Wayne Gallman (26)

In 2020, playing behind the Giants' trash offensive line, Gallman rushed 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 6 TDs. Additionally, according to NFL NextGen stats, he faced 8-man boxes on 40.1 percent of his rushing attempts, which was the second-highest rate in the NFL. In other words, behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, he frequently faced heavy boxes, and still averaged 4.6 yards per carry. A look at his 2020 season:

The downside is that he's just not much of a weapon in passing game, either as a receiver, or in pass protection.

Because Gallman has four years of NFL service, he is free to sign with anyone, and is not subjected to waivers. During the offseason, he signed a one-year contract with the 49ers worth just $990,000, and shouldn't cost more than that after the 49ers just cut him. I'd take him as a short yardage back over Jordan Howard.

MORE: Indy media again rip 'selfish' Carson Wentz, call him 'a bad teammate' | What they're saying: Eagles don't have a single player in ESPN's 'NFL Rank' Top 100

Trade LT Andre Dillard to the Rams for S Terrell Burgess (22)

Let's take a shot in the dark, shall we?

In the 2019 draft, the Rams selected a couple of safeties in Burgess (third round) and Jordan Fuller (sixth round). Burgess had a bad ankle injury that ended his 2020 season, while Fuller became a good starter as a rookie. The Rams are flush with safety talent, as they kept six of them at 53-man cutdowns. 

At Utah, Burgess was a versatile player who could play deep, in the box, and who could man up against slot receivers. He could be an immediate fit as the third safety in the Eagles' defense.

Meanwhile, longtime starting LT Andrew Whitworth (40 in December) is likely playing his last season in 2021. Dillard could provide LT depth for the aging vet, and the Rams would have time to try to coax Dillard's potential out of him, with the possibility of him becoming a long-term answer at LT.

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