Officially, the Eagles and every other NFL team have until Saturday at 4 p.m. to trim their rosters to 53 players. The process, though, really begins on Friday morning as players begin learning of their fates.
So names of Eagles cuts will start to trickle out shortly after their final exhibition game Thursday night at the New York Jets. There are currently 90 players on the Eagles’ roster, so that means they must release 37 payers.
A player must be on the 53 man roster even if a team plans on putting him on Injured Reserve if they want to designate him to return after eight weeks. If a team places a player on IR prior to the 53 – the way the Eagles did with receiver Charles Johnson on Wednesday – he cannot return to that team for the rest of the year, though he can reach an injury settlement and become a free agent able to sign with any other team.
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So that means if the Eagles want to keep, for instance, cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc and designate him to return this year, he must be one of the initial 53.
Even if a player makes the final 53, there are no guarantees he will still be there after 48 hours when the Eagles are able to claim players released by other teams.
Team can begin building their 10-player practice squads after the waiver period on released players ends.
Here is my one and only 53-man roster projection for the Eagles:
Keep: Carson Wentz, Josh McCown, Nate Sudfeld
Cut: Cody Kessler, Clayton Thorson
Analysis: I just don’t see the Eagles keeping four here, especially when they have some short-term injuries at other positions that may necessitate going a bit heavier at those spots. Thorson will be brought back to the practice squad, unless another team claims him for their 53-man roster, and given the state of some teams’ quarterback depth, that may not be out of the question. So it’s a risk.
Running backs (4/7)
Keep: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement
Cut: Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, Donnel Pumphrey
Analysis: I suspect that other teams will claim Adams and Smallwood and maybe Scott and Pumphrey, too. All four are deserving of a spot on an NFL roster, but it they were just caught up in a numbers game in Philly.
Keep: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Greg Ward (pictured above)
Cut: Marken Michel, Carlton Agudosi, DeAndre Thompkins
Analysis: There is just as much of a chance that the Eagles release Hollins as there is that they keep him, but he is a better overall player when you factor in special teams than the three who will be let go.
Tight ends (3/16)
Keep: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins
Cut: Richard Rodgers, Alex Ellis, Will Tye
Analysis: Rodgers is hurt again, and I think he has run out of time. Perkins has shown too much to release.
Offensive linemen (9/25)
Keep: Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata, Stefen Wisniewski
Cut: Anthony Fabiano, Keegan Render, Brett Toth, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta, Matt Pryor
Analysis: Keeping Wisniewski is a gamble, but the Eagles need a backup center and, even though is snaps aren’t always accurate, the Eagles need to buy time until perhaps Herbig is ready. Pryor, a sixth-round draft pick last year, can be placed on the practice squad.
Defensive linemen (10/35)
Keep: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall
Cut: Treyvon Hester, Eli Harold, Kasim Edebali, Aziz Shittu, Kevin Wilkins
Analysis: Hester is tough to part with, since he is a strong special teams player who has shown the ability to block kicks. Keeping only four defensive tackles is OK, because Curry can slide inside to tackle if needed, as could Graham.
Keep: Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, Nate Gerry, T.J. Edwards
Cut: Chris Worley, Alex Singleton, Hayes Pullard
Analysis: Grugier-Hill will miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury, so the Eagles probably go a little heavy at this position. Edwards and Singleton battled throughout camp, but Edwards was used more on special teams. Pullard was a late addition, and he has had some NFL success, so maybe he stays and Edwards heads to practice squad.
Defensive backs (9/50)
Keep: Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Cre-Von LeBlanc, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Johnathan Cyprien, Jalen Mills (PUP – does not count on roster)
Cut: Jason Thompson, Rudy Ford, Orlando Scandrick, Ajene Harris, Trae Elston, Deiondre Hall, Jeremiah McKinnon, Sojourn Shelton, Josh Hawkins
Analysis: LeBlanc could be headed for IR with designation to return, so the Eagles could bring back Orlando Scandrick if nobody claims him, or somebody else; maybe Hawkins.
Kicker: Jake Elliott
Punter: Cameron Johnston
Long snapper: Rick Lovato
Analysis: Elliott is a concern having missed field goal of 40 and 41 yards in the preseason. He still has that booming leg from distance. Johnston and Lovato have been solid.