Biggest Snubs and Surprises from Philadelphia Eagles' Roster Cuts
On Friday and Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles released 19 players to get the team's roster down to the official 53 before the start of the season.
Eagles release 19: LB Acho, OL Andrews, RB Barner (waived/injured), CB Carmichael, OL Graf, K Henery, WR D. Johnson, S K. Johnson, RB Josey— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) August 30, 2014
Releases cont'd: LB Kaddu, DT Keliikipi, QB Kinne, CB Marsh, WR Momah, WR Murphy, WR Pratt, S Reynolds, DT Square, RB Tucker— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) August 30, 2014
The official count for the team, as it stands right now, includes three quarterbacks, three running backs, six receivers, four tight ends, nine offensive linemen, seven defensive linemen, nine linebackers, five cornerbacks, four safeties and three special teamers.
No cut was shocking, a la Jeremiah Trotter in 2007, but a number of the moves made by general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly were somewhat surprising.
The following five slides will highlight the most surprising players who either were or were not cut.
Chris Polk, RB: On
The third-year running back was expected to easily win the No. 3 running back job at the start of camp. After all, Polk played fairly well in limited opportunities last season, carrying 11 times for 88 yards and three touchdowns. That's 8.9 yards per carry. Although unsustainable, that's still tremendous, especially for a third running back.
But Polk couldn't stay healthy this preseason and you know the old saying: "You can't make the club in the tub." A nagging hamstring injury that's still affecting him forced Polk to miss all four preseason games, opening the door for undrafted rookie Henry Josey and last year's practice squad member Matthew Tucker. When both played very well, that seemed to signal the end of the Polk era in Philly.
The Eagles saw it differently, however, choosing to keep Polk and release the other two. The fact that the Eagles kept only three running backs, including veteran Darren Sproles who is more of a pass-catcher out of the backfield, shows the Eagles have a ton of faith in Polk's abilities as a runner and his ability to stay healthy. After all, should LeSean McCoy suffer an injury, Polk would be the lead guy to replace his share of the carries.
Henry Josey, RB: Off
Undrafted rookie Henry Josey has a pretty cool story. Signed by the Eagles after a stellar college career at Missouri, Josey wasn't even expected to continue playing after a horrific knee injury he suffered in November 2011. It was an injury a doctor called a "one in a million" and it was expected to end his football career. But Josey rehabbed and returned to the field, against all odds.
With the Eagles in 2014, Josey led the NFL in yards per carry (6.6) and ranked second in rushing yards (225) during the preseason. Had a 70-yard touchdown run not been called back by a penalty, Josey easily would have won the preseason rushing title.
But his limitations in pass protection and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield ultimately led to Josey getting cut by the Eagles. He was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad, and ironically the Eagles play the Jaguars in Week 1.
Trey Burton, TE: On
Chip Kelly loves versatile players and at the University of Florida, Trey Burton did it all. He played tight end, wide receiver, fullback and quarterback. He wasn't drafted, but he signed with the Eagles in 2014 hoping for a chance to sneak onto the roster.
Although Burton never dominated in any game during the preseason or in practices, he played well enough and made enough plays in actual preseason games to earn the fourth tight end spot on the Eagles' roster. He'll likely be inactive during game days, but he's a candidate to replace veteran James Casey, a probable cap casualty following the season, as the No. 3 tight end in 2015.
Ed Reynolds, S: Off
It's been seven years since a fifth-round draft pick was cut by the Eagles before the start of the season and that was safety C.J. Gaddis in 2007. You can now add Ed Reynolds to that list.
The former Stanford All-American was practically invisible throughout camp. You never heard his name, good or bad, and that's bad when it's a rookie fighting his way onto a crowded roster. The final straw was likely a dropped interception (on a play that went for a touchdown) in the team's final preseason game against the New York Jets.
In Reynolds' defense, the Eagles are a talented team and cutting a fifth-round pick looks much better when you're a playoff team than when you're the 2013 Oakland Raiders cutting a fourth-round quarterback before the start of the season.
Reynolds has since been signed to the practice squad and will likely be promoted to the active roster in the event of an injury.
Alex Henery, K: Off
Yeah, I'll just say it. I thought the Eagles would end up keeping Alex Henery as their kicker even after rookie Cody Parkey's incredible final preseason game.
Here's the piece I wrote a few months ago on why I expected a breakout season for Henery in 2014 (oops). Kickers are historically inconsistent when it comes to field-goal percentages and the Eagles have to know that Parkey's tremendous game against the Jets was likely a fluke. After all, he never kicked a field goal of longer than 52 yards in college and he kicked two in one game against the Jets. Can that hold up during the regular season?
For a sleeper Super Bowl contender with a high-powered offense, I thought Kelly would bite the bullet and keep the veteran kicker who has been very accurate on kicks within 40 yards. Instead he chose a rookie who played extremely well in a pressure-packed preseason finale but has never actually kicked in a real NFL game.
Time will tell if Kelly made the right choice.