On Saturday, the Eagles announced their initial 53-man roster for the 2017 regular season.
The 53-man roster is established, not set. There is a very important distinction to be made here. As the Eagles narrowed the roster on Saturday to reach the limit of 53 by 4 p.m., they did so by juggling some unusual numbers: five running backs, only eight offensive linemen, six wide receivers, 10 defensive backs, and 10 defensive linemen.
It's 53, then, set in sand.
"We'll see what happens. This time of the year, there are a lot of conversations and it's a fluid situation," Howie Roseman said. "We like what we've done, but we're always going to look to upgrade."
The Eagles kept their entire draft class, with the exception of fifth-round draft pick linebacker Nathan Gerry, and they kept running back Corey Clement, who was not drafted. Clement, along with fourth-round draft pick Donnel Pumphrey, are part of the five-man running back group. Fifth-round draft pick Shelton Gibson, very surprisingly, made the 53-man roster after an up-and-down Training Camp and preseason, joining Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, and Torrey Smith among the newcomers to that group. Nelson Agholor is the lone returning wide receiver.
Go up and down the roster and you see some numbers that aren't exactly traditional. Two quarterbacks? The Eagles did it last season and they're going to do it again in 2017. Only eight offensive linemen? The versatility that backups Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai bring to the table is critical.
Jaylen Watkins showed the defensive coaches that he could be a valuable piece on special teams and as a cornerback/safety combo player. Elijah Qualls, the sixth-round draft pick who missed the entire spring waiting for his University of Washington class to graduate, came on strong, dominated against the Jets, and won a roster spot.
And yet you get the feeling that Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas aren't going to sit back and watch the parade of available players go on by.
They're going to be working on this roster for a long time.
"It's exciting," Roseman said. "We've made a lot of progress. We added players who can make a difference in the offseason, not only through the draft, but through trades and free agency. We've come a long way. That doesn't mean we're where we want to be, but we feel good about the progress that we've made and we're going to continue every day looking for ways to get better."
No doubt, it's a work in progress. The Eagles are looking through the waiver wire now, perhaps putting in a claim or three like last season when they added wide receiver Bryce Treggs, safety Terrence Brooks, and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill the day after the first 53-man roster was established. Treggs was waived on Saturday, Brooks was dealt to the Jets for cornerback Dexter McDougle a week ago (McDougle was signed to a contract extension through 2018, by the way, so the Eagles like what they've seen of him so far), and Grugier-Hill is a key part of Dave Fipp's special teams.
made it back from a knee injury to win a roster spot, but he's basically a rookie after missing all of last year.
This 53 is only the first iteration. There are going to be tweaks and twists and moves throughout the next day or two and the next few months. The Eagles are better than they were a season ago. They aren't yet, however, where they want to be.
"We just have to keep working at it and comparing what's out there with what we have here," Roseman said. "When we start playing games that count in the standings, we will really see what we have and what kind of roster is here."