Eagles Players Likely On Their Last Chance: Now or Never

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Last season, Nate Allen and Danny Watkins entered the offseason on their last chances and ended their 2014 seasons with completely opposite situations. This season, six others face a similar scenarios.

The Eagles have evolved since being taken over by head coach Chip Kelly. While that evolution has involved several players from previous regimes, the team continues to churn its roster into Kelly's ideal squad. With the changes this offseason, it is clear that tenured players may be playing on their last legs.

Six players on the current roster face situations similar to the ones that Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Danny Watkins did last offseason. Will those players stick around like Allen or be buried on the depth chart like Coleman or be exiled like Watkins? Their destiny, for the most part, is in their hands.

Damaris Johnson

Johnson may have only been in the league for two seasons, but his star has faded with the coaching staff and the once-supportive fanbase. In an offense without Jeremy Maclin, Johnson was expected to be the team's fourth receiver and cut into Riley Cooper's playing time last season. However, Johnson couldn't make it past fifth on the depth chart and was even replaced as the primary returner during the season.

Brad Smith was acquired in the middle of the season and essentially wiped Johnson out of the line up. Johnson went from 19 catches and 256 receiving yards as a rookie to two catches for 14 yards in his second season. With Smith, Cooper and Jeff Maehl returning as well as the additions of a healthy Maclin, a healthy Arrelious Benn, Josh Huff and Jordan Matthews, it seems like it's "put up or shut up" time for Johnson.

Casey Matthews

The former Oregon Duck has been able to make it through three pretty mediocre seasons with the Eagles. While Matthews has not been as terrible as most fans or pundits have viewed him, he has failed to really find a secured role in the Eagles defense. Matthews has largely served as a special teams player, where he has been solid but not spectacular. Still, with DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Najee Goode likely locked in as the top three inside linebackers, Matthews has plenty of competition for the fourth and fifth spots.

Matthews will have to beat out Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho and Jason Phillips for one of the two spots. Add in that the Eagles may keep more than the four outside linebackers that they did last year (which included Matthews) and you can see why the odds are stacked against the former fourth round pick. He needs to show that he can play on more than just special teams to stick around.

Roc Carmichael

While Carmichael was an addition just last season, he really needs to have a quality offseason to make the roster. With the additions of Jaylen Watkins and Nolan Carroll, the cornerback position has five quality players ahead of Carmichael. The former Texans defensive back played mostly special teams for the Eagles and was less-than-impressive on defense. He needs to improve after his first training camp with the Eagles and the team is likely hoping that having a bit more preparation time in the defense will help him this season.

The Eagles are likely to keep 10 or 11 defensive backs, so it will be interesting to see how Carmichael factors into to that group. The team could decide to keep only five safeties due to Watkins' versatility, so Carmichael could end up making the team as a pure special teams player. Still, he has to prove he is worth keeping over the likes of Keelan Johnson, Curtis Marsh, Daytawion Lowe, Ed Reynolds and others.

Curtis Marsh

The Eagles have given Marsh a lot of opportunities to be productive. While he has suffered a similar fate to Allen, with several different coordinators, the former third round pick has yet to prove he is anything more than a special teams player. In fact, he was waived during final cuts last offseason and then spent two games as a special teams player for the Bengals. He was later cut and re-signed by the Eagles for depth at cornerback after Jordan Poyer was claimed by the Browns.

Marsh is facing a similar situation to Carmichael. The defensive backfield may not be incredibly talented but has plenty of players to perform as quality depth. The likelihood of Marsh making the roster is very slim and likely depends on the numbers that the Eagles to keep. That may mean that 11 is the lucky number for either Marsh or Carmichael.

Arrelious Benn

Frankly, Benn just needs to maintain his health to make the roster. He has more talent than Smith and would likely provide better depth early on than Huff. That said, staying healthy has been Benn's biggest weakness in the league. While he has looked solid in OTAs by almost all accounts, it is a long offseason and Benn needs to show some durability. The talent is there, but he needs to be available to be an asset.

He and Smith are likely competing with Maehl, Johnson, B.J. Cunningham, Ifeanyi Momah, Will Murphy, Kadrone Boone and Quron Pratt for just two spots. Smith seems to have the edge on one spot, but Benn is likely playing for his career this offseason and could surprise a few people.

Brandon Graham

This one is pretty simple. Graham is a former first round pick, who doesn't seem like a good fit for the defense and really hasn't shown consistency in four seasons. While a lot of those issues are not entirely on him, most feel like it would be in his best interest to move on. However, he has said that he wants to stay in Philadelphia and it is really on him to prove he can be a productive pass rusher in a 3-4 defense.

This season is likely Graham's last in Philadelphia, so it's on him to produce to the point where he can obtain a long-term deal on the free agent market. It will be huge for the Eagles if Graham can produce, but if he struggles at all in the offseason, the team could deal him to make room for upstarts like Travis Long and Bryan Braman.

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