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Unlocking the puzzle: A look at the Eagles' initial roster composition

Dave Spadaro On the Inside 1920

It's just a first glance, because the Eagles' 53-man roster is subject to change at any time, but if there's a theme to the team's roster as of 4 PM on Tuesday, it's that 2021 is judged upon itself, regardless of NFL experience. Nine rookies dot the initial 53, including undrafted free agent tight end Jack Stoll. This is a roster that ranges in league experience from 14 years (quarterback Joe Flacco) to rookie status (9) and another two players (punter Arryn Siposs and tight end Tyree Jackson) who have never played a regular-season game and who are listed as first-year players.

Thirty-three of the team's 53 players have been acquired since 2019, including 18 added in this past offseason via the NFL Draft (eight draft picks), the veteran free agency period (five players), two signed as reserve/futures players in January (Siposs and Tyree Jackson), and two acquired through the trade route (cornerback Josiah Scott and quarterback Gardner Minshew).

There are three running backs (Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell), five wide receivers (DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Quez Watkins, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside), 10 offensive linemen, and nine defensive linemen.

And this is just the beginning, as the Eagles will now put together a 17-man practice squad (including international roster exemption DE Matt Leo) and keep their eyes on any creative ways – trades, the waiver wire, etc. – to add to the roster. The reality is that the Eagles look at this as a 70-man roster needed to provide depth for the 17-game regular season ahead.

"When we think about our roster going into the season, we talk about two parts. We talk about the 70-man roster with our practice squad and the 53 (active roster) guys. We've got a lot of work to do here in the next 24 hours to put all those pieces together," Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager Howie Roseman said.

Roseman referred to the roster as a "puzzle," understanding that teams are actively looking at the waiver wire along with released players from other teams through the night. The Eagles, as they've been in the past, went heavy on the offensive line and defensive line and, thus, kept only the three running backs and five wide receivers. The roster remains a work in progress and there are going to be tweaks made throughout the season, but the team has certainly transitioned and gotten quite a bit younger in key areas.

That was one of the points of discussion for Roseman, the personnel staff, and the coaching staff: Some of the young players may not quite be where they need to be right now, but they're heading in the right direction, developing, and they have bright futures.

"We're looking to see that they continue to improve ... Kind of looking back, maybe sometimes we've gone with an older guy in the short term and the next year we've got to go draft another guy at the same position," Roseman said. "We're investing in our player development program, we're investing in our coaches, and trusting in those guys to get these guys better and be ready to play this season.

"We cut the roster based on the 53 best guys that we felt could help our football team. We talked a little about trying to balance the short term and the long term for our football team but that's how we made our decisions. Going forward, when we look at guys we're going to look at their ability and how they fit our system, what their background is to make sure we're bringing in the right people into our building."

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