Eagles Depth Chart: Offense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly likes to say that the Eagles only have a seating chart, not a depth chart, this time of year.

Luckily, here at Birds 24/7, we don’t have to abide by the same rules. So now that we’ve seen all of the spring practices and have our eyes on the start of training camp (July 25), here’s our stab at what the offensive depth chart looks like (we’ll do the defense tomorrow). I tried to make this as useful as possible, so there are explanations below. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Impact Of the Kaepernick Deal

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Last week we asked former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry about the type of deal Nick Foles might command if he has another strong season in 2014. His response is worth revisiting given what has transpired since.

“Now to get in the game with quarterbacks, you’re going to have to go 18 million per season and close to 50 million in guarantees. [Colin] Kaepernick should get done before  training camp starts. That’s going to be another benchmark Foles is going to point to,” said Corry. “And I can’t see that number coming in below [Jay] Cutler. He wants $20 million per season…I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it. That’s just going to be another data point to add to the equation to help Foles.”

Sure enough, Kaepernick signed a six-year deal that is reportedly worth $126 million ($21 million per season) and contains $61 million worth of guarantees. [Though the numbers aren't quite what they appear.] He joins a growing list of QBs that have cashed in of late to help set the market. Read more »

Bamiro, Now At Guard, Fighting For Spot

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Michael Bamiro spent a large portion of Monday’s OTA holding a rectangular orange blocking pad. As one of 16 offensive linemen competing for about half as many spots, it acted as his entry pass so he too could jump into drills and prove to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland he’s more than just a practice player.

“I’m really just doing whatever I can to get myself on that field,” Bamiro said. Read more »

Practice Squad Tracker: Eagles Add DE Bair

All eight practice squad spots are now accounted for, as the Eagles signed defensive end Brandon Bair on Wednesday morning.

The 6-6, 285-pound Bair played college ball at (you guessed it) the University of Oregon, posting 106 tackles (25.5 for a loss) and five sacks over four seasons in Eugene. He spent some time with the Chiefs and Raiders after going undrafted in 2011 but has not appeared in an NFL game.

Dennis Dixon has practice squad eligibility remaining but the Eagles decided to go in a different direction for now since they are carrying three quarterbacks on the roster.

Linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who originally made the 53-man before being released in favor of Najee Goode, cleared waivers. He could be an option down the road if he stays on the market.

Here is how the rest of the practice squad looks:

OL/DL Isaac Remington

Remington (6-6, 305) played defensive line for coaches Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro at Oregon and was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Towards the end of camp, Kelly had Remington working with the offensive line. He was released when the team trimmed its roster to 53, but is now back in the fold as a practice squad player. When the Eagles announced the move they listed him as an offensive lineman, so the experiment continues there, it appears. As we know, Kelly likes players that can fill multiple roles when called upon.

S Keelan Johnson

The Eagles made this move official on Tuesday.

Johnson (6-0, 209) attended Arizona State and signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in April. As a senior, he finished second on the team in tackles (88)  and led the squad with five interceptions and 13 passes defensed.

One former Eagles scout is high on him.

S Trenton Robinson

Robinson (5-9, 193) was selected in the sixth round by Niners last season. He appeared in three games as a rookie but did not register a tackle.

The Michigan State alum racked up 229 tackles, nine interceptions and 21 passes defensed in four seasons with the Spartans. Tom Gamble, the team’s vice president of player personnel who came over from the Niners this offseason, helped draft the safety.

The signing was first reported by Lee Thompson of MLive.

WR Greg Salas

The 25-year-old Salas had a fine training camp and made several impressive, acrobatic catches both on the NovaCare practice fields and in preseason action. Many (including yours truly) believed the fifth wide receiver spot would come down to Salas and Russell Shepard (now with the Bucs). Instead, the Eagles went with Jeff Maehl. Salas has 27 career receptions for 364 yards.

 RB Matthew Tucker

A rough start to camp for Tucker, who initially failed his conditioning test. He finished strong, though, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the preseason finale against the Jets. Assuming he doesn’t get picked off the practice squad by another team, he serves as insurance to the promising running back trio of LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk.

OT Michael Bamiro

The 6-8, 340-pound Bamiro joined the Eagles in mid-July. The Stony Brook product is raw, but he has ability (read about why he didn’t enter the draft here) and could pan out down the road. The practice squad seems like a good spot for him for now.

LB Travis Long

The 6-4, 245-pound outside linebacker was signed by the Eagles during training camp. He had 9.5 sacks as a senior at Washington State before suffering a knee injury.

Sam Lynch has a list of practice-squad eligible Eagles/former Eagles if you’re interested.

Roster Analysis: Evaluating the Eagles’ Offense

The Eagles trimmed their roster down to 53 today. Here’s a position-by-position look at where things stand after having heard from GM Howie Roseman.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.

Nothing to see here. Dennis Dixon and GJ Kinne were cut. Dixon has a chance of landing on the practice squad.

Vick will start, Foles will back him up, and Barkley will look to learn the offense as a rookie.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.

In the end, Chip Kelly decided he only needed three running backs on the 53-man roster. Undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker was let go. He could land a spot on the practice squad. There’s also a chance that the Eagles find a running back they like from another team and add him in the next few days.

McCoy will get the bulk of the carries, Brown should see plenty of action too, and Polk will likely be heard from at some point as well.

Wide receivers (5): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Jeff Maehl.

This position was a bit of a surprise. The Eagles got rid of rookie free agent Russell Shepard and Greg Salas. Throughout camp, the thought here was that at least one of the two would make it, but they both ended up getting released in favor of Maehl.

However, Roseman made it sound like wide receiver is a fluid position for the Eagles. It would not be surprising if they added someone in the coming days and let Maehl go. Maehl was originally acquired from the Texans earlier this month and played for Kelly at Oregon. He had eight catches in the preseason finale against the Jets and drew praise from Kelly for his special-teams ability.

Jackson and Cooper will start on the outside. Avant will play the slot. And Johnson will mix in. Johnson also figures to be the lead return man, although Kelly said recently that using Jackson back there is still an option.

Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Emil Igwenagu.

Another surprise here was Igwenagu. He made the team as the fourth tight end over Clay Harbor. Roseman said the Eagles were looking for someone who didn’t duplicate the skill set of other guys on the roster. Igwenagu is more in the fullback/tight end role of Casey. Harbor is more in the tight end/receiver mode of Celek and Ertz. According to the GM, that was part of the reason for the decision.

Casey suffered a hamstring injury vs. the Jets, but Roseman said he should be ready for Week 1 and confirmed that had nothing to do with the decision to keep Igwenagu.

Hate to sound like a broken record, but this is another area where the Eagles could potentially replace Igwenagu with a player from another roster.

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde, Matt Tobin.

The starters are in place. From left to right, it’s Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, and Johnson.

Barbre is the first backup guard and also the first backup tackle until Kelly is healthy. Vandervelde is the backup center.

Roseman acknowledged that Michael Bamiro is probably a bit of a project and was put in a tough spot, having missed all of the spring. We wrote about Danny Watkins at length in an earlier post. And Tobin got the nod because of his positional versatility. Roseman said he was confident that Tobin could fill in at four of the five spots on the offensive line.

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8/31: Eagles Cut Tracker

If you’re looking for information on Friday’s cuts, click here.

We’ll have updates on all of the action today right here, so keep checking back and refreshing this page.

Update: The Eagles’ roster is down to 53.

Chris McCoy, OLB – The outside linebacker played well in the preseason finale against the Jets, but that wasn’t enough to earn him a roster spot. His release is somewhat surprising because the team now only has three outside linebackers on the roster in Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham.

Travis Long, OLB – He was another outside linebacker who had a shot. The Eagles added him to the roster this summer, but he didn’t stick either.

Greg Salas, WR – His release was a surprise. The Eagles decided to go with Jeff Maehl instead of him for the fifth and final wide receiver spot. I had both Salas and Shepard making the roster, but in the end, both were released.

Matthew Tucker, RB – His only shot was as the Eagles’ fourth running back, but the team decided it only needs three for now: LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Tucker was an undrafted free agent out of TCU and failed his conditioning test initially in the spring. He could be a practice squad option.

Danny Watkins, OG – The former first-round pick is being released, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Watkins started 18 games in two seasons with the Eagles and never performed consistently at a high level. Chip Kelly did not provide much of an endorsement when asked about Watkins Thursday night. And he got passed over on the depth chart by veteran Allen Barbre. We’ll have more on Watkins in a separate post.

Clay Harbor, TE – Kelly gave him a shot to show he could play tight end and wide receiver. But apparently, in the end, there wasn’t a place for Harbor.

A fourth-round pick in 2010, Harbor had 47 catches for 421 yards in three NFL seasons with the Eagles.

Russell Shepard, WR – He was definitely on the bubble, and apparently Shepard didn’t show the Eagles enough this summer to warrant a roster spot.

An undrafted free agent with upside and special-teams chops, Shepard has a chance to make the practice squad.

Michael Bamiro, OT – The Eagles have cut the developmental right tackle, according to the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. Bamiro (6-8, 340) joined the team in mid-July. He has an intriguing physical skill set, but didn’t look ready to contribute this year. Bamiro could end up on the Eagles’ practice squad.

His release was good news for undrafted free agent Matt Tobin, who ended up making the squad.

David Sims, S – The team has let the veteran safety go, according to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. Sims joined the squad before the opener last offseason and saw action on defense/special teams. He went from working as a trash collector to earning a spot in the NFL. Now Sims will try to continue his career with another team.

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Ten Eagles On the Roster Bubble

Danny WatkinsBy 6 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles have to cut 22 players and get their roster down to 53. Many of the bubble guys will get a chance to make one final impression Thursday night, as Chip Kelly acknowledged there’s still “a lot up in the air.”

New offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaching staff and new personnel. Kelly’s moves this weekend will tell us a lot about his roster-building philosophy. Keeping that in mind, here are 10 players whose future with the franchise hangs in the balance as we approach cut-down day.

1. Danny Watkins, OG – The 2011 first-round pick got a fresh start with new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but it doesn’t seem like he’s made a strong impression. Watkins is currently a backup guard and has been passed on the depth chart by veteran Allen Barbre. Kelly wants versatility in his backups, but so far, Watkins has only played guard. As T-Mac reported yesterday, Watkins is due $1.1M in guaranteed money. But with Barbre looking like a keeper and the team needing a backup center, Watkins, who turns 29 in November, could still be out of a spot.

2. Michael Bamiro, OT – The Eagles had to compete with other teams to sign Bamiro earlier this summer. Some reports suggested he would have been a mid-round pick had he entered the draft. The question the Birds have to weigh is whether or not they’d be safe stashing Bamiro on the practice squad. The Eagles have some tackle depth. Barbre can play out there, and Todd Herremans could slide over in a pinch. The team also expects Dennis Kelly to return from back surgery at some point. Bamiro might be a nice option for the bottom of the roster. He would likely be a weekly inactive, but has plenty of upside for down the road.

3. Julian Vandervelde, G/C – It’s been a bumpy journey for the 2011 fifth-round pick. He spent his rookie season on the active roster, was cut last summer, spent a couple days with the Tampa Bay Bucs and then returned to the Eagles. He entered the league as a guard, but has been learning the center position the past two years. If the preseason is any indication, he has a good shot of sticking around as Jason Kelce’s backup. The Eagles’ other options for that spot are Dallas Reynolds and Matt Tennant.

4. Greg Salas, WR - The Eagles didn’t make any moves to add receivers after Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn went down with season-ending ACL injuries. Salas had an excellent camp and flashed during the first two preseason games. He could be competing with Russell Shepard for the fifth receiver spot. Or the Eagles could decide to keep them both.

5. Russell Shepard, WR – He showed some good YAC ability during last week’s game, catching two balls for 38 yards. With Shepard, there is once again the practice squad question. There’s no doubt that the Eagles like his talent, but he went undrafted and could probably use some seasoning before he’s ready to contribute. Special teams is a factor here too. Shepard looks like a willing contributor and made a nice tackle in coverage against Carolina.

6. Clay Harbor, TE/WR - Kelly has been trying to find a spot for the fourth-year tight end. He’s been getting reps at wide receiver and has played there each of the last two preseason games. The truth is, when then Eagles spread it out in Kelly’s offense, there’s often not much of a difference between a wide receiver and a tight end. Kelly prides himself on being prepared for every situation. Harbor’s versatility could be enough to make him stick.

7. Chris McCoy, OLB – The CFL product started off the preseason well, but was not good last week against the Jaguars. The Eagles are somewhat thin at the position. Kelly said ideally, the team would keep four outside linebackers. They’ve got Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham as virtual locks. This one will likely come down to who else is available. McCoy could be an initial keeper, but if the Eagles see an outside linebacker they like cut from another team, he could be released.

8. Casey Matthews, ILB – Kelly said he’d like to keep four inside linebackers also. The starters are in place with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Matthews, Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho are competing for spots. Knott is probably the favorite among that group. What we wrote about McCoy could apply here too. The Eagles could add an inside linebacker from another team’s cut list. But Matthews’ special-teams production (14 tackles last year) could help him earn a spot.

9. Clifton Geathers/Damion Square, DL – I cheated a bit here and included these two together. And really, they could both end up making it. The plan for the Eagles on gamedays seems to be to rotate six players on the defensive line. Right now, the five most likely are: Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry. The sixth could be either Geathers or Square, with the other as a potential inactive. Square drew praise early in the preseason, but did not play well last week. Geathers had his best performance against Jacksonville. Both have played nose tackle, along with defensive end.

10. Kurt Coleman, S – The fourth-year player’s chances of making the roster increased when the Eagles released Kenny Phillips. But he’s still no lock to make it. Coleman hasn’t rotated in with the starters much, and the decision on whether to keep him or not will likely depend on if Kelly is comfortable keeping five safeties. Patrick Chung, Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff seem like locks. Colt Anderson has an excellent shot of sticking because of his special-teams ability. That means Coleman could be the odd man out.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Status Report

Zach ErtzToday, we check in on the rookies. Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of what we’ve seen from each guy, along with projections going forward.

Lane Johnson – The whole “raw” label hasn’t shown up much in the first two preseason games. Based on early returns, Johnson has a chance to be a beast in the run game right away. There have been some issues in pass protection, but Johnson has held up fine in that aspect too. He’s athletic, hustles and will start at right tackle from Day One. An encouraging camp and preseason for the No. 4 overall pick.

Zach Ertz – Four catches for 46 yards on five targets through two preseason games. Ertz has played 42 snaps per PFF; he’s gone out into pass routes on 62 percent of those. The second-round pick will have to prove himself as a blocker, but he’s a polished route-runner who will have a role in the passing game right away. Look for Ertz to be a nice option in the red zone. He’ll play big snaps from the get-go.

Bennie Logan – He’s been a pleasant surprise. Logan always figured to have a place in the defensive line rotation, but so far he looks like one of the Eagles’ best players up front. Opposing offensive linemen have had a tough time controlling Logan in the run game, and he’s been effective as a pass-rusher too. The third-round pick will be coached to make use of those 34-inch arms and get in the passing lanes. Chip Kelly has said he’ll probably play six defensive linemen in the regular season. If Logan keeps showing up on tape, he’ll play plenty of snaps right away.

Matt Barkley – Expectations varied when the Eagles drafted him, but Barkley’s pretty much performed at the level of a fourth-round pick. In other words, he’s been up and down. Kelly likes how Barkley gets rid of the ball quickly, but the rookie QB has set his receivers up for dangerous hits on too many occasions. He’s never really been a part of the QB competition this summer and will likely spend Year 1 on the sidelines.

Earl Wolff – A bit of a mystery. The safety from N.C. State has gotten some reps with the first team in practice, but he didn’t get into Thursday night’s game until the second half. Patrick Chung has one of the safety spots locked down, but the other one is up for grabs. Nate Allen has started both preseason games. Wolff has a chance to make his move, but the guess here is he’ll start the season as a backup.

Joe Kruger – He’s only 21-years-old and unlikely to contribute in his first season. The question with Kruger is: Will he make the 53-man roster? If the Eagles really like his potential and think he might get snatched up by another team, they could keep him and make him a regular inactive. But stashing him on the practice squad is a real possibility.

David King – If the practice and preseason rotations are any indication, he’s going to have a tough time making the roster. The seventh-round pick hasn’t flashed much and has been passed by undrafted free agent Damion Square on the depth chart.

Jordan Poyer – Some thought the Eagles got a steal with Poyer in the seventh round, but the Oregon State product has had a quiet summer. The Eagles are thin at cornerback, so Poyer’s got a chance to sneak on the roster. But he hasn’t done much to stand out so far.

***

Among the undrafted guys, Square and linebacker Jake Knott seem like good bets to make the roster. Square figures to add depth on the defensive line, and Knott should be one of the backups behind DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.

Other names to watch are Michael Bamiro, Russell Shepard and Matthew Tucker. Bamiro is a developmental tackle prospect. He seemed to draw some interest from other teams back in July, so the Eagles might not want to risk losing him by going the practice squad route.

Shepard started off great, but has been quiet in the preseason games and could be headed for the practice squad. Tucker could claim a spot just because Felix Jones has been unimpressive. But the Eagles could choose to add a running back from another team instead.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A detailed “tape” review of how the Eagles used the zone read/bubble screen packaged play on multiple occasions vs. Carolina.

O-Line wisdom has been passed down from Tra Thomas to Todd Herremans and now to Lane Johnson, writes T-Mac.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News talked to wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell about the team’s option routes:

“You always have some West Coast plays in your concepts, and we have all those,” wide-receivers coach Bob Bicknell said. “But there’s also more chances for guys to kind of read coverage, read how they’re getting covered and make plays off of the leverage of the defender or whether they’re playing man or zone. “I think that’s what’s a little bit different in this offense. We have option routes where guys have an ability to understand what we’re trying to get, where other people are, and where they have a chance to win and get open.”

Derek Sarley of IgglesBlog suggests preseason defenses haven’t shown much yet against Kelly:

Right now, Chip’s offense is being greatly helped by the passivity of the defenses he’s facing. For months, we read stories about how every defensive staff in the league was studying ways to beat spread option looks, and yet so far we haven’t seen anything all that innovative beyond some rotations by the Patriots to mess up the reads with different edge defenders.It’s going to take some time before the league fully understands everything Kelly’s trying to do, but I’ll be shocked if our week one opponent — a team that has more than a passing familiarity with these same offensive concepts — isn’t ready with a big bag of tricks we aren’t seeing yet.

COMING UP

We’ll be back at NovaCare, talking to Kelly and several players today.

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Eagles (Abbreviated) Practice Observations

Today was the Eagles’ first training camp practice, but the session included only rookies and selected veterans.

In all, 28 players participated, after running back Matthew Tucker and punter Brad Wing failed their conditioning tests.

Here’s a photo from a TV monitor in the cafeteria of what the players’ schedule looked like:

* As for the on-the-field session, undrafted free agent Jake Knott gave new meaning to the term “one-on-one instruction.” He’s the only linebacker here, so when players split up by position, it was just him and inside linebackers coach Rick Minter. As we mentioned earlier this week, backup linebacker jobs are up for grabs, so the extra time can only help a player like Knott.

* The wide receivers ran through some interesting drills. The first image shows them making catches behind a contraption that presumably simulates a defender.

Update: Thanks to the commenter for pointing out the purpose of this drill is for wide receivers to focus on catching the ball with their hands.

And they also worked on ball security:

* One nice part about these practices is you can get up close to the field and actually listen to the coaches. For example, I spent some time around Jeff Stoutland and the offensive line. There were only five players in attendance – Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Michael Bamiro, Nic Purcell and Matt Tobin. On one rep, Johnson held an orange blocking pad and was supposed to simulate a 3-technique defensive tackle.

But when the ball was snapped, Johnson didn’t go where Stoutland wanted him to go, so he blew the whistle and stopped the drill. Remember Chip Kelly’s philosophy of teaching in the classroom, not on the field? That doesn’t apply to these practices. Stoutland explained how the 3-technique could either attack the gap or the offensive tackle.

Next, the five offensive linemen went up against grey and yellow trash cans. Bamiro was just signed last week, but Stoutland wasn’t about to take it easy on his newest pupil. “I taught you this already,” he told the 6-8, 339-pounder.

Stoutland then used an analogy of pushing a car uphill. “Are you going to push it from behind or from the side?” he asked, after knocking over a trash can. On this specific run play, the point was the offensive tackle needed to take a couple steps to his right before squaring up on the defender.

* It’ll be just the rookies and selected vets again Wednesday. Veterans check in Thursday. And then the real fun begins with the first full-squad practice on Friday.

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Michael Bamiro’s Strange Path To the Eagles

A freshman at Pittsburgh-Titusville, Michael Bamiro sat in front of the TV on fall Saturdays nearly five years ago and had a thought.

“In college, sitting there watching Pitt play… everyone around me, they were all Pittsburgh fans,” Bamiro said. “Seeing myself, I’m just as big as these guys playing. I feel like I can do some of the things that they can do. That really pushed me to say I want to go back and play football. This is something that I can do. I know I can do this.”

And so the roundabout journey began. Bamiro had to sit out a year before joining the Stony Brook program, where he played three seasons. The plan was to play a fourth, but the NCAA ruled that his first year at Pittsburgh-Titusville counted against his eligibility. The problem? The final ruling came down a few weeks ago, nearly three months after the draft.

“At the time, it was very disappointing,” Bamiro said. “It was really disappointing to not be able to play college football. Up until the first week of July, I was training to be a college athlete. I was ready to be a Stony Brook athlete, a Seawolf. But things had to change… I just kept it moving. And now I’m ready to play professional football.”

An obvious question is: Why didn’t Bamiro play football in college right after high school?

He’s currently listed at 6-8 and weighed in at 339 pounds on Monday. But that wasn’t the case five years ago. Sure, he was 6-6, but the Eagles’ new offensive tackle said he weighed 380 pounds.

“I have nobody to blame but myself, really,” Bamiro said. “I did not put forth the best effort I could in high school. Sometimes I wish I could change that, but everything happens for a reason, and I’m in the spot that I’m in now because I worked through college.

“I lost that weight over a period of my college career. The more that I was working into the system, the more that I was playing, the more that I got focused on, ‘I need to cut this weight, I need to get my body in better shape.’ So over that five-year span is when the weight was cut.”

Bamiro has been working out with Tra Thomas and said he had six or seven teams show interest in him. The Eagles made an effort to get younger at tackle by drafting Lane Johnson fourth overall. But Bamiro is in a situation where he thinks he can grow. Jason Peters is 31. And other than second-year player Dennis Kelly, they don’t have a lot of depth.

Bamiro will have about seven weeks to show he’s worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll continue his journey in a different capacity, potentially on the Eagles’ practice squad.

“They had a lot to offer,” Bamiro said. “The coaches were really enthusiastic for me being here. It felt like they wanted me here, and my agent felt the same way. So it was an easy decision.”

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