Roster Analysis: Sizing Up the Offense
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 Philly.com, 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).