After spending half a decade as one of the most dominant punt returners in Pac-12 history, Britain Covey waited patiently for a call to define his future; a call that would never come.
Sure he was 25, married, and not quite transcended the “gadget” moniker to become a full-on, professional-caliber slot receiver, but still, you don’t just rip off 1,930 combined return yards and five(!) special teams touchdowns by mistake. One way or another, Covey was going to make his way to an NFL camp and pursue the tough but not unprecedented task of making it as an undersized slot man.
In the end, that team was the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joining a crowded wide receivers room that featured four drafted performers, a veteran free agent signee, and Mr. Always Open himself, A.J. Brown, Covey was always going to have his fate decided based on his special teams play. If he excelled as a return man and maybe made a play or two on offense, who knows, maybe he’d sneak into the 53-man roster as a sixth receiver, and if not? Well, hopefully, he’d pass through waivers and live to return punts another day.
Ultimately, Britain Covey’s preseason was suboptimal, amassing just 11 yards in two catches versus seven targets, and even his efforts as a return man, taking back four kicks for 92 yards and four punts for 25, wasn’t exactly the sort of difference-making effort that changes a team’s roster-building philosophy to avoid a waiver wire claim.
Passing through waivers unclaimed, Britian Covey signed with the Eagles’ practice squad and was elevated to the active roster in Week 1 to take his first crack at earning a long-term spot on the Eagles’ roster. If he succeeded in finally breaking Philadelphia’s special teams curse, Covey would be a veritable hero worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster, and if not? Well, there’s always a spot on the practice squad and a futures contract when the season comes to an end to try it all over again next summer.
Week 1 performance provided little insight into Britain Covey’s future with the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Jalen Reagor a member of the Minnesota Vikings and Jason Huntley in street clothes, the Eagles called on Covey to serve as their premier punt returner in a Motor City showdown with the Detroit Lions. Finally, the Utah Utes legend would be afforded an opportunity to test his mettle against genuine NFL coverage units and definitely find out if he could hang with the pros or if his ceiling was that of a really good amateur player who would remain a fixture of their college community but never quite make it in the NFL.
Only, here’s the thing; that opportunity never came.
Taking the field for four snaps overall snaps, all of which came on special teams, Britain Covey returned two punts for 13 yards and didn’t rip off a return longer than 11 yards on the afternoon. While Covey theoretically could have been involved in the kick return game too, as he excelled in that aspect of the game during his run in Salt Lake City, the Eagles gave Quez Watkins the first crack at the gig in Week 1 and kept going back to his well despite only averaging 12.7 yards per kickoff, which is 7.6 fewer yards than Reagor averaged in 2021.
So what gives? Is the Britain Covey experiment over before it even had a chance to begin? Or does he still have a chance to make an impact moving forward? Fortunately for the Morman Missle, Covey can still be elevated from the practice squad two more times this season, so there’s a very good chance he’ll be back on the field before fans know it, hopefully with a more expansive role as a kick and punt returner.
Will Britain Covey ultimately stick with the Eagles? Will he become a mix between Greg Ward and Ray-Ray McCloud and cement his status as a South Philly staple akin to soft pretzels, the 2300 Arena, and John’s Roast Pork? Or will he become the next Kenjon Barner, Chris Polk, or Corey Clement? Fortunately, Nick Sirianni, Howie Roseman, and company have two more weeks of their choosing to find out.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire