Why we should expect some surprises on the Eagles 53-man roster

NFL: SEP 20 Rams at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) looks on during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of trimming down their 80-man roster, with the goal of cutting it to 53 by Tuesday afternoon. As things stand, there are another 22 moves to be made ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. While the trickiest decisions are still to come, there are some wildcards that are absolutely worth keeping in mind as they will likely play a huge role in shaping the team for the 2021 season.

The injury situation

The Eagles may have escaped Nick Sirianni’s first summer in charge without any major injuries, but the team wasn’t so lucky under the previous regime and unfortunately, they’re still dealing with the effects of a gruelling 2020 season.

Rodney McLeod is one of the few veterans on the team but he’s missed the entire offseason. Recovering from a torn ACL in time to suit up for the season opener was always going to be a tall order, but the Eagles surprisingly activated him from the PUP list on Monday.

If he’s going to land on IR, he’d physically have to make the roster and then be sent to IR, so this could explain the move. In this event, the team would be able to either keep an extra Safety they otherwise wouldn’t have (maybe Andrew Adams/Marcus Epps), or add an extra player at another position, keeping one of their younger players who could well be the target of another team scouring the waiver wire.

It would be surprising to see McLeod dropped into the deep end in week 1 given that he hasn’t even played a rep this offseason.

Second-round pick, Landon Dickerson, is in a similar boat. He tore his ACL during his final season with the Crimson Tide and has spent his first NFL offseason on the sidelines. Like McLeod, he’s now in-line to make the final 53. The Eagles don’t really have a ton of depth at center, but do have some versatile guards at their disposal.

Dickerson could still start the season in street clothes (or dungarees) if he’s later moved to IR and it would give a tackle like former UDFA Brett Toth a chance to stick onto the final roster to begin the season.

TE Tyree Jackson will miss up to 8 weeks with a back injury sustained in Training Camp, which will keep him on IR for the first 8 weeks of the season. The problem is that he can only land on the injured reserve once the final 53 is released. They cannot place him on the PUP list, meaning he has to make the 53 before reverting to IR, so somebody else will be exposed to waivers in his place.

The Eagles could cut Richard Rodgers and bring him back without too much concern of losing him in the process, but the fact that Jackson has played to a level worthy of taking such action is impressive in itself.

Trade talk

There are also three players who find themselves intertwined in trade discussions. Whether the Eagles would pull the trigger on a move before the roster is set remains to be seen, but it could be a wise decision if they are seeking capital in return as it would also free up a spot for someone else in the process.

Zach Ertz: I don’t think we see a trade involving the Stanford product as the Eagles have clearly set the asking price way too high, but he still continues to be dangled around aimlessly in the hopes someone will bite. We can’t rule it out, but with depth thin at the position, it’s likely that Ertz starts the season as an Eagle.

Derek Barnett: After the Jets sustained a heavy blow at defensive end, the 25-year-old was immediately linked to the team in a potential trade given his status as a starter, his one-year contract, and familiarity with Jets GM Joe Douglas. New York decided to go elsewhere to bolster the position, but that doesn’t mean that the Eagles won’t have other teams potentially knocking on the door.

Andre Dillard: If the Eagles are going to finalize the long-term future of the LT position, it starts with really cementing what Andre Dillard means to this organization. Does his first-round status hold weight anymore, or. Is the future all about Jordan Mailata? If the answer is indeed the latter (as it should be), then cashing in on the Washington State product before its too late makes a ton of sense, and there are always teams in need of some OT help.

Linebackers: According to a report from MMQB, the Eagles are taking calls at the linebacker position. Gannon’s new hybrid system may well have created a slight logjam. There’s a ton of high-upside players who simply may not getting the playing time behind Singleton & Wilson, with the SAM linebacker not being used as part of the base defense. Players such as T.J Edwards, Shaun Bradley, and maybe even Genard Avery could find themselves subject to being traded if the right suitor comes along, given that the team have more than enough chefs in the kitchen to hold the fort.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire