The Philadelphia Eagles have officially announced their initial 53-man roster.
The team made several roster moves to get to 53, and there were a few interesting decisions made along the way. Regardless of what the roster looks like right now, there’s a good chance it could shift over the next few days as players go through waivers.
Here’s our biggest takeaways from the initial 53 in Philly.
Jason Huntley gets waived, Jordan Howard gets cut
Early Tuesday morning, we learned the Eagles waived running back Jason Huntley. Huntley impressed during camp with his speed, leading to some to speculate that he may earn a spot on the roster as a kick/punt returner. But ultimately, his release is not that surprising.
Jordan Howard, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise cut here. After a solid preseason and training camp, Howard felt like an obvious choice for the fourth running back spot on the roster. But the team has different plans, and will only carry three backs on their initial 53-man roster. Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell are the only backs on the roster at the moment.
Howard is a vested veteran, so they could bring him back without guaranteeing his salary. That’s a likely scenario here.
Fulgham and Hightower get waived; Eagles only carry 5 wideouts
After a disappointing training camp from Travis Fulgham and John Hightower, both wideouts have been waived.
If Fulgham and Hightower clear waivers, they could both be put on the practice squad. But it wouldn’t be shocking if either of these guys gets claimed.
Fulgham had an outstanding five-game stretch last season, accumulating 29 receptions for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns. Including a 10-catch, 152-yard outing against the Baltimore Ravens. While Hightower didn’t show a ton last season, he has game breaking speed and that was evident in his small amount of playing time last year.
As it stands, the Eagles receivers are as follows: DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Keeping only five receivers may be a bit risky, but if they all remain healthy they should be just fine.
Safety Andrew Adams doesn’t make the cut
Safety Andrew Adams was the first free agent Howie Roseman made this offseason, but showed very little during training camp and the preseason, leading to his release. The announcement that Rodney McLeod would not be placed on the PUP list to start the season certainly played a role here.
The added depth Adams brings to the safety position isn’t as needed with a full healthy McLeod. We don’t know for certain if McLeod is going to play Week 1, but this cut leads me to believe that he’ll be out there.
Rookie DT Marlon Tuipulotu makes the roster
Marlon Tuipulotu felt like a prime candidate to get placed on the practice squad, but it appears the team has higher hopes for the rookie sixth-round pick.
Tuipulotu didn’t have a very impressive preseason. He got routinely pushed around by backup offensive lineman, although he did look a bit better in the team’s final preseason outing. With Tuipolutu in the fold, veterans Hassan Ridgeway was released and T.Y. McGill was placed on the reserve/COVID list.
The team decided to carry just four defensive tackles, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams, and Tuipulotu. Once McGill is healthy, I’d imagine he’ll take Tuipulotu’s spot as the rookie gets moved to the practice squad.
Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson fill out the back half of the tight end depth chart
The Eagles have been set at the top of their tight end depth chart for a few weeks now, but the back half of the position was a bit of a question mark. The team has opted to carry four tight ends total: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, and Tyree Jackson.
Stoll had an impressive preseason and outperformed veteran Richard Rodgers. Philly gave Stoll $122,500 in guaranteed money as an UDFA, the most of any undrafted rookie on the team.
Jackson will likely be placed on the short-term IR while he recovers from his back injury. That will open up a roster spot for a few weeks, allowing Roseman someone maneuverability.
Every draft pick earns a roster spot, except for one
Each of the Eagles 2021 draft picks ended up making the initial 53-man roster, with the exception of sixth-round pick JaCoby Stevens. Stevens is an intriguing prospect with his safety/linebacker versatility, but he didn’t show much during training camp and the preseason. He will likely get out on the practice squad if he clears waivers. As for the rest of the 2021 draft class, they’ll all be on the sideline Week 1.