Roster Analysis: Sizing Up the Offense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles made cuts today, trimming the roster down to 53 players in advance of the 4 p.m. deadline. Here’s a position-by-position look at what the squad looks like on offense. We’ll do the defense next.

Quarterbacks (3): Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley.

No surprises here. Those are your top three guys, with G.J. Kinne let go.

What’s interesting though is that the Eagles might not be totally done at quarterback. According to Jimmy Kempski of, they seem to be fielding trade offers on Barkley. I’m not sure that the Eagles will get any suitors, but there could be a team or two that liked Barkley when he was coming out of USC and thinks about taking a flier on him.

Remember, the Eagles reportedly worked out former Bills and Browns QB Thad Lewis earlier this week.

Obviously, the top two spots will go to Foles and Sanchez.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk.

The thought here was that the Eagles would keep a fourth running back – either Matthew Tucker or Kenjon Barner. Even though Henry Josey played well, he seemed like a longshot because he was unproven in areas other than carrying the football.

McCoy played just under 80 percent of the snaps last year, and that number is unlikely to decrease much. Even though Sproles averaged just 3.5 and 3.7 rushing attempts per game the past two seasons, the team has been adamant that he can thrive as a ball-carrier in this offense.

Polk has battled a hamstring injury, but Chip Kelly made it clear Thursday night that the third-year running back is doing all he can to get back on the field. Considering the Eagles only kept three running backs, the guess is they believe Polk should be good to go for the regular season. If that view changes, they could add a fourth RB at some point.

Because Barner didn’t make the roster, the Eagles will not have to give up the conditional seventh-round pick to Carolina. If Tucker doesn’t get claimed by another team, he could end up on the practice squad.

Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Trey Burton.

Burton, to me at least, is the surprise. I know the Eagles liked his versatility (unsurprisingly, Intern Josh was ahead of all of us with this Burton story earlier in the summer), but I thought he might be more of a practice squad candidate.

I was wrong. For the second year in a row, the Eagles keep four tight ends coming out of camp. Burton will likely be groomed to be Casey’s successor. Or who knows? Maybe they feel like he can contribute this year as a rookie free agent.

Essentially, the Eagles chose a fourth tight end over a fourth running back. Again, that could change depending on whether they see guys they like get cut by other teams.

Wide receivers (6): Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith, Jeff Maehl.

These are the six I had projected. Arrelious Benn was placed on IR with a back injury. And Huff (AC sprain – shoulder) was not placed on IR. He’s not currently practicing, but could be back during the early part of the season, it appears.

Kelly has made it clear that he loves Smith. And there is obviously a comfort level with Maehl, even though he doesn’t offer much upside. If the Eagles sign a receiver who was released by another time, Maehl would likely be the one to go.

Maclin and Cooper will start. And the guess is Matthews will see the most snaps in the slot in Week 1.

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Allen Barbre, David Molk, Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly.

The Eagles chose to keep four backups in Molk, Tobin, Gardner and Kelly. The second-team offensive line was the surprise of the preseason. That unit came into the summer with a lot of questions, but played extremely well.

Molk will back up Kelce. And Tobin, assuming he’s healthy (ankle), will be the swing guard/tackle to start the season. Gardner is a backup tackle, and Kelly provides G/T versatility.

When Lane Johnson comes back in Week 5, one of these linemen could be let go (most likely Gardner or Kelly).

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  • Amar, CB who bought in

    Too many TEs, too few RBs.

    • Kleptolia

      There there, skipper. There there.

      The sun’ll come out….tomorrow
      Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
      There’ll be sun…
      Just thinkin’ about…

      • MagatBrackendale

        “The key to a winning season is focusing on one opponent at a time. Winning one week at a time. Never look back and never look ahead.”
        Chuck Noll
        This wise man also said:
        “Mamas, don’t let your sons grow up to be Cowboys… “

    • HokiEagle07

      I think Chip sees Burton as a TAZR/ H-Back position. He can play TE, WR, & some RB, so he provides depth & versatility at 3 positions. He also played a ton of ST in college and can play on all 4 teams. VERSATILITY. That’s the new Philly mantra.

    • jmkrav

      Burton actually played some FB/RB at Florida.

      • Amar, CB who bought in

        Hopefully he can give us some versatility too.
        I’m rooting for the young guy.

    • @desiderata

      @Amar I thought the same until I read up on Trey Burton, our 4th TE. He’s every offensive skill position, and scored 11 rushing TDs his freshman year, 2nd most in Gators history behind…..Emmitt Smith! He’s an undersized TE but a big goal line RB

      • Amar, CB who bought in

        In that case, it makes a lot of sense.

  • Mr. Wu

    Tom Coughlin would trade his left nut to start our second team O line

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      But who would want it?

      • MagatBrackendale

        The Jets?

        • Jerry Pomroy

          They already have their nut in their coach. But they may want to clone Coughlin, soooo.

      • eaglesanch

        Coughlin’s left nut or out 2nd team O line?

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          left nut

  • Glenn

    Nothing against Trey Burton. But Burton will be a regular inactive. If he was cut, he would not have been picked up, and would have easily been stashed on the practice squad. Henry Josey will be an excellent RB in this league. He will be picked up by someone else, and do very well. Would have kept Josey as the 4th RB, being pretty confident Burton would be on PS. There is a reason why people on this board are so passionate about this guy.

    • Kleptolia


    • Drybass

      I agree. Unless the offense is going a different direction than it did last year, the benefit of having Tobin+Kelly+Gardner (just to likely cut one before week 5)/Matthews/Burton/Maehl seems vastly less important than having that RB4. Contrary to what Chip says, Sproles is not a replacement if Shady goes down. I’m a big Polk guy, but I could see him getting injured even with limited snaps.

      Even though it’s only preseason and the play of the OL 2s had a hand in his success, it just seems like we are just giving away talented players to keep… players we are a little comfortable with that have no potential (Excluding Gardner/Burton, who have starter/solid starter potential IMO).

      I could be wrong though. I was upset about Russell Shepherd (Jury is still out on that one) and going Roc over Poyer/Prater (which I still stand by. Roc = bum) but obviously, we had a roster capable of winning.

      • Pennguino

        Yea, I was hoping Shepherd would be the WR/Gadget/Emergency QB that Smith does now

      • mksp

        “Contrary to what Chip says…”


    • Jason

      Didn’t our offense make DJ look like Barry Sanders? I like Josey, but I have a feeling that in Chip’s offense, as long as you aren’t Bryce Brown, you will be successful.

      • Dan

        Yes i’m sure part of it is kelly feels every back on the street is effectively a PS player he can work with. Kept the minimum guys he’ll need active (like last year) and chose the one that adds the most on Specials.

    • If he was cut, he would not have been picked up, and would have easily been stashed on the practice squad.

      Henry Josey will be an excellent RB in this league.

      hey, uh, so glenn….besides these wildly unfounded assumptions, you are aware that when PHI kept 4 RBs last year, usually that 4th was inactive on gameday as well? ok then

      • Glenn

        Rob- Agree with you that Josey as the 4th RB would have been inactive most every week. That really wasn’t my point. The 4th TE or 4th RB position is more of a spot you would have for a player who you feel has the potential to be a very good #1 type starter, and injury replacement, but will never be active if everyone is healthy. I would love to keep both Josey and Burton. But I feel, if you cut Burton, the Eagles had a much better chance of passing him through waivers than Josey, and place him on the practice squad, and therefore keeping both. I also feel Josey has a chance to be a #1 RB in the league. Where I don’t think Burton is a #1 TE. Josey would have been good insurance in case McCoy gets seriously injured. Especially since Sproles could not be a 25 touch/game back even for a week. We don’t really need injury insurance at TE with Ertz and Celek and Casey.

    • Dan

      Howie clearly thought this through with Chip. Both would be weekly inactives so they kept the one they thought most likely to get snatched up. They have a little more intel on the matter than us so I trust them.

      also keep in mind all backs ran well this spring. Have to think at least one of the 3 clears waivers to the PS.

  • John J. King

    Trade Barclay for a future and keep Kinne? Not all that bad.

    • MagatBrackendale

      Kinne is gone.

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        Kinne will never be gone. He will live on forever… in our hearts.

        Besides, I’m sure we’ll try to get him on the PS. So King’s point is to trade Barkley for a pick and elevate Kinne from the PS to the 3rd QB.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          As I said before in the other post, I’d like to see a Barkley trade, then just sign Kinne back to the PS. Smith (maybe either Smith…lol) serves as your emergency gameday QB. If you needed to elevate Kinne from PS, you could do so in the event of injury. I just don’t see the need for 3 QBs on the active roster. If you get down that far you’re sunk anyway.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I’ll be honest, I would LOVE for us to have our playoff seeding locked up going in to week 17 and rest the starters and let Kinne play the whole game. The kid can toss the ball.

          • Dan

            beat me to it. worth noting we only kept 2 active on gameday most of last year. Nobody is going to steal Kinne from our PS…

        • MagatBrackendale

          Should work should Kinne make the practice squad. Then again, Thad Lewis?

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I have no idea what’s up with that. There’s a Shurmur/Lewis connection from shared time in Cleveland I believe. For all I know Thad called Pat and begged for a chance to try to impress, because what QB wouldn’t want a chance here, and Pat humored his old friend. Or probably something else entirely.

        • Guest

          or leave him on the PS and call on if needed. we only keep 2 QBs active normally and nobody is stealing kinne…

  • Soybot

    To anyone questioning keeping only 3 RB’s, if Shady gets hurt, does it really even matter if we had a 4th RB on the roster or not?

    • MagatBrackendale

      Things that make you go…hmmm.

    • usmcnole

      I question it because polk is currently hurt and injury prone

      • John E. Zang

        And that’s not just because he’s been injured this year either. He was a work horse type of back in college and has a lot of mileage. The thing I don’t really get is why not take the little risk/high reward for the third back in Josey as he has the potential to pop it for big yards when he’s in there. I don’t care if he can’t block because he’s not supposed to play much anyway.

    • pjcostello

      YES, because Sproles is obviously not an every-down back; if McCoy goes down for any length of time, the THIRD-strong RB would be the starter, with Sproles maintaining his 3rd-down role — in which event, there’s no one else behind Polk. The Eagles have it set up a little different than other teams’ running back depth chart because of Sproles’ size and age, and other abilities.

  • Andy Six Score and Four

    So, apparently you absolutely can make the club from the tub. Can we never hear that saying again?

    • Kleptolia

      I don’t know, if you say it in all caps, it almost sounds….nice.

  • mtn_green

    Burton decision over 4th RB is probably twofold:1 st, 2 there are two TE positions. Need a backup for each.

    There are no FB in chipball, therefore keep 4 TE.

    Burton must be better special teamer.

  • TNA

    Fluellen, who also looked decent got waived by the Colts. Eagles win and just goes to show you that the performance of the RBs in pre-season needed to be discounted a bit by those watching. I think Burton is a more valuable asset than Josey or Tucker. Burton is a WR, HB, and TE. I see him stepping in for Smith in the longer term if he continues improving.

    • John E. Zang

      I can see Barner ending up on this roster soon enough. They didn’t want to give up the pick.

  • pjcostello

    So we kept an extra offensive lineman over an extra running back…? I’m sorry, that makes no sense to me at all. I would rather they cut James Casey to keep Barton, and kept Tucker at RB in that roster spot. They left themselves very little flexibility, it seems to me.

    • BlindChow

      Burton can’t replace Casey: he’s no good at blocking (yet). I’m not sure why people are having such a hard time grasping this.

      He’s more of a backup to Ertz if anything.

    • Dan

      also one of Barner, Josey or Tucker will clear waivers and effectively be available if an injury happens, just like last year.

      • pjcostello

        Tucker did, thank goodness!

  • Bullwinkle

    I’m tired of hearing that blocking ability is the reason for not keeping a player with potential. Many young players are not good blockers. They need coaching. Celek wasn’t considered a good blocker until recently. Ertz and Burton are not considered good blockers. Blocking as a reason for keeping or not keeping a player seems to be somewhat selective and therefore, lacks credibility.

    • Dan

      It was a good reason to move on from Demetress Bell :)

      • Bullwinkle

        Good point; It guess it matters a whole lot when blocking is your exclusive job. I was disappointed to see Josey cut, because I think he was the second best runner on the team behind no. 25. The other guys are okay, but aren’t much of a threat for big yardage. Sproles is not really a running back and has not been impressive. We shall see.

        • Dan

          I trust chip and howie. so far every scrub back not named BB has looked good behind our beast mode line.

          • Bullwinkle

            They looked good, but Josey looked great. I’ve been watching the Eagles backs since the 60’s and this kid really excited me with his agility and burst. I suspect the Eagles just brought him in as a “camp body” and never expected him to do so well. I don’t think he was in their plans to begin with, which is unfortunate, but that’s life.