In the end, there was really no great uproar as the Eagles unveiled their initial 53-man roster. Oh, there was a certain degree of intrigue answered now that we know who the fifth receiver is on the roster (Mack Hollins, come on down!), that we see four running backs among the 53 (and what a standout group this is!), and that all three of the young defensive ends (Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller) are here and need to continue to develop.
Other than that, it came out as expected. These things usually work out this way, right? Through the course of the spring OTAs and the summer Training Camp and preseason, the cream rose to the top. And while it’s never easy releasing players as the Eagles did to go from 90 to the NFL-mandated 53-man roster limit, it became pretty darn cut and dried as the process continued. The players separated themselves, one way or the other.
What we have here is a darn good roster. It’s now time to get to work and win some football games.
More than anything, the striking aspect of this roster is the depth at each position. When the Eagles, for example, signed Josh McCown a couple of weeks ago, the quarterback position became an enviable three-deep room with a franchise player leading the way (Carson Wentz), a 17-year NFL veteran on hand (McCown), and a young quarterback still developing whom the Eagles believe can win games if he plays (Nate Sudfeld). At running back, a position where as recently as mid-March (remember the mini-panic around the time of the NFL’s Annual Meeting?) the Eagles had questions, the trade for Jordan Howard, the drafting of Miles Sanders, the return of Darren Sproles, and the return to good health of Corey Clement have the Eagles in terrific shape there.
At wide receiver after seeing rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the preseason? What a great room! The offensive line after the way rookie Andre Dillard and second-year man Jordan Mailata played throughout the preseason on the edges? Don’t you feel great about the present and the future of the guys up front?
The defense has plenty of depth as well, particularly given the addition of Andrew Sendejo at safety, the continued development of young players at cornerback, and a linebacker group that, while not laden with star names, has the Eagles feeling good about the versatility across the board. Defensive tackle is as deep as any team could want, and the ends, while you’d love to have five (or in the Eagles' case six) players with proven production ready to line up, has some young players behind starters Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, along with third end Vinny Curry, whom the Eagles feel really good about.
Friday’s first wave of cuts produced no surprises and Saturday’s news was more of a trickle than a fountain of moves that included exactly zero bombshells. This was straightforward stuff. The Eagles knew going in they had a strong roster. They knew they had a plan not only for 2019 but for the future and they weren’t going to risk the big picture for a short-window venture.
And, by the way, a shout out to the Eagles' college scouting department. Four of the five draft picks made the initial 53-man roster (quarterback Clayton Thorson was the exception) and another two undrafted players stuck – interior offensive lineman Nate Herbig and linebacker T.J. Edwards. The draft, of course, is not just about the first day, or the first two days. This draft, as of August 31, yielded four draft picks, two undrafted players, wide receiver DeSean Jackson (2019 sixth-round pick), and defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, whom the Eagles acquired by sending a seventh-round draft pick to the Colts on the third day of the draft. That's a total of eight players, a strong number.
Now, this roster is going to change here and there. Howie Roseman and his personnel staff are always on the lookout, checking under every rock to seize an opportunity to add to the team. The roster-tinker game is a season-long deal, as we have seen in the past. Roseman never sleeps on the present. He is not, as Jeffrey Lurie likes to say, “risk-averse.” Roseman’s genius is his understanding of the marketplace and the predictability of what’s about to go down around the league. So, let’s not pretend that this 53 is what the Eagles are going to carry all season.
What’s happening right now is the study the Eagles are conducting on the waiver wire from the day’s cuts in the NFL. The Eagles are 25th in claim position, so it’s going to be difficult to add any quality over what the Eagles currently have, but you never know. These next 24 hours – addressing the waiver wire and then assembling a 10-man practice squad – are of utmost importance because the Eagles need to be prepared for injuries down the line. They are inevitable. A 53-man roster is really a 63-man team, and so the Eagles are in the process of tying up all of the pieces.
It’s been a long process and a lot of work to reach this point. The Eagles love their 53-man roster and, at the same time, they’re going to continue to upgrade. In the meantime, it’s Redskins week. The regular season is here. The Eagles have an opener to play, an NFC East rival to defeat, and a season in front of them.
They’re armed with a power-packed roster that, as 4 p.m. arrived on Saturday, contained few surprises. It all became cut and dried as the preseason played out and the cream of the roster rose to the top, as it always does.