MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Here we are, at the end of the preseason and I know how easy it is to look ahead. You want to focus on the cut to 53 players, right? You want to look ahead at the regular season, of course.
But, the Eagles still have a game to play on Saturday (7 PM, NBC10 Philadelphia) against Miami and out of respect for the players and coaches who have taken part to reach this point and with the understanding that there is a lot of importance on those 60 minutes of football, let's keep the chatter right here. There is plenty of time to look ahead. Saturday matters a bunch.
If history holds – and Head Coach Nick Sirianni has not indicated one way or the other – the Eagles will rest their starters and many of the men projected as backups with the 53-man roster in mind. Philadelphia has played so much football these last two weeks with the two joint practices with Cleveland, the preseason game on Sunday against the Browns, a day of practice with Miami that was extremely physical in absolutely energy-draining heat, and, besides, has been on a two-week road trip that is no small undertaking (a shoutout to the equipment staff, the travel logistics team, the IT crew, and so many others for making it all work so smoothly).
There is a game to be played and there are jobs to be won, not just with the active roster but with a practice squad that can carry as many as 16 players. For a moment, let's discuss the practice squad just so you have an understanding of how it works, because we've seen in recent seasons how valuable it is during the course of a long season. Ten of the 16 players can have no more than two accrued seasons. The other six players don't have any limitations, which means veterans can be on the practice squad. Players can be elevated up to three times during the year, which is one game more than it was last season (2).
So, instead of thinking of the Eagles' roster in terms of 53 players on the active roster, add 16 to that and you have 69 players. Even beyond that, the Eagles will have an emergency list, which ups the number even more. Give or take here and you understand that Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman is casting a personnel net far beyond the 53.
This preseason finale has great meaning, not just for the Eagles and Dolphins but for all 32 teams in the league. There are certainly backchannel conversations happening and we know that Roseman is always looking to improve the roster as well as future draft capital – he traded, very astutely, defensive back Ugo Amadi to Tennessee and the teams flipped late-round draft picks in 2024 giving the Eagles a draft selection a full round higher for a player who didn't fit into the Eagles' plans, which is an under-the-radar great value move on Roseman's part – so the next few days are going to be active as the teams must reduce the active roster to 53 players by 4 PM on Tuesday.
The idea that the Eagles already have picked out their 53 is not true; jobs are on the line against Miami.
"We have so many more days to be able to sort through it," Sirianni said. "I don't want to give you a percentage of how good I feel or anything like that. The thing is, we don't have to make a decision yet, but we feel good with the competition that's going on right now. I think the more you have in the conversation, like 'This guy or this guy or this guy or this guy,' that's better because you're having a good competition throughout. And that's what I feel like we're having with the amount of talent that Howie and his staff have brought in."
It has been a super-positive summer for the Eagles following an extremely productive spring. Let me tell you, this football team is conducting its business with great confidence and sense of purpose, with an understanding that it makes no sense to get ahead of the moment. Let's all try to do the same, just this one time. There is plenty of time to talk about the cuts to 53 and after that the opener in Detroit. The focus now is on the last game of the preseason and what it means to the hopeful Eagles in a micro sense and what it means for the entire roster for 2022 in the macro perspective.