There are bound to be some surprises after the dust settles following final roster cuts in the NFL every year. We usually have a pretty good idea of what the 53-man squad will look like, but sometimes there are a few moves that catch us off guard. Here’s my best guess at projecting some of the Philadelphia Eagles’ surprise cuts that could take place later this summer.
Shortly after the 2016 season ended, it was reported Barbre wasn’t a lock to return for 2017. Then it was reported the Eagles gave Barbre permission to seek a trade. After that effort proved fruitless, it was reported the Eagles are keeping Barbre.
Given that last report, it’d be a little surprising to see the Eagles move on. But then again they already made some sort of effort to get rid of him.
I’m not exactly sure where Barbre fits in the offensive line picture. Yes, he split first team reps at left guard with Isaac Seumalo in the spring. But I’d think the younger Seumalo will beat him out for that job. At that point is he the top backup at every offensive line spot except center? Would the Eagles rather use Stefen Wisniewski, who they paid this offseason, over him at guard? Would the Eagles rather use Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has more long-term potential than the 33-year-old Barbre, at either tackle spot?
The Eagles could very well keep Barbre. He’s versatile and provides quality offensive line depth. But it’s at least worth noting Philadelphia can save $2.1 million in cap space (compared to only $150K in dead money) by cutting him.
Here’s what I wrote about Gibson following spring practices.
Gibson is in danger of not making the roster. He really struggled with drops this spring — even when he was doing drills with no defenders on him.
Bad players get cut, so this wouldn’t be a surprise in that sense. Gibson simply couldn’t catch the ball.
But the fact that he’s a fifth-round rookie obviously makes this notable. Fifth-round picks aren’t necessarily guaranteed roster spots by any means but they make the team much more often than not.
The Eagles probably hope to get Gibson through the practice squad. The problem with that is some team might be willing so take a chance on his pure speed. It might be ideal for Philadelphia if he suffers a minor injury in the preseason so the Eagles can stash him on injured reserve in 2017.
Brooks was the team’s starting slot corner in 2016 before suffering a season-ending ruptured quad injury. The defense suffered in his absence. Not so much because Brooks was great but more so because it forced Malcolm Jenkins to play in the slot which meant Jaylen Watkins got more playing time on the back end.
So why cut Brooks when the Eagles are thin at corner? First, it remains to be seen if he can get back to 100%. He didn’t participate in team drills this spring. We’ll see if he’s ready for training camp.
Another reason is the emergence of young guys like Aaron Grymes and C.J. Smith. Grymes was getting some first team reps at the nickel spot in minicamp this year. He often stood out by making a lot of plays on the ball. Smith made the practice squad and was promoted to the active roster last season. He could push for a roster spot once again.
Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, and Rasul Douglas are locks to make the roster. Two of those three will be starters on the outside. It’d be hard to keep Grymes off given how well he’s played. So it could come down to Smith versus Brooks for a fifth corner spot. Brooks turns 29 in October and is coming off injury. Smith, meanwhile, is only 24 and could have more upside.
One factor that could help Brooks stick around is he reportedly took a $850K pay cut this offseason. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is familiar with Brooks from Buffalo, might also try to keep the veteran around.
This a liberal definition of “surprising” but I’m including Watkins here because he played a significant role in 2016 as the team’s third safety. Despite looking good in training camp last summer, Watkins struggled during the season. Terrence Brooks, who the Eagles added via waivers after final cuts last year, outperformed Watkins in spring practices. Brooks should make the team while Watkins’ second stint with the Eagles comes to an end.
Whenever I did a mailbag post or an Eagles Q&A session on the BGN Facebook page this offseason, I’d often get questions about McCalister. People wanted to know if the 2016 seventh-round pick gained any weight or if there any updates on him.
We now know McCalister did put on some weight. But I can’t really tell where that weight was added. I recently wrote about McCalister when discussing the Eagles’ 2016 draft class.
I have to say that McCalister doesn’t look much bigger, though. He still looks slight to me and I have my doubts he’ll make the roster.
Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, and Chris Long are definitely ahead of him on the depth chart. I’d say Steven Means easily is too, so that makes McCalister the sixth defensive end at best. The 2016 seventh-round pick could end up on the practice squad this year.
I’d be very surprised if McCalister makes the Eagles’ 2017 roster.
OL: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon (10)
The Eagles kept 11 linemen last year so maybe he sticks around one last time before becoming a free agent after this season.
Tobin hasn’t played very well, but 21 starts in 42 games played is a pretty good run for a UDFA. It’s surprising he’s made it this far.
Players signed on the first day of free agency typically don’t get cut later that offseason. One would imagine Jeff Stoutland, Warmack’s former offensive line coach, really wants him to stick around. But it’s possible Warmack might not play well enough to make the team. The former No. 10 overall pick clearly struggled with the Titans.
I’d bet on Warmack sticking around, but the thing here is that Eagles’ interior offensive line picture is crowded. Seumalo, Barbre, and Wisniewski are all seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. Warmack only received $500K guaranteed on a one-year; the Eagles can cut him to save $791K.
Not so surprising cuts
Here are some cuts I wouldn’t consider surprising but they’re notable nonetheless.
Ryan Mathews - It’s only a matter of time. We’re still waiting.
Marcus Smith - It seems like he wants the Eagles to cut him despite his insistence otherwise.
Matt McGloin - The Eagles only kept two quarterbacks last year. Dane Evans could be this year’s practice squad QB.
Paul Turner - The future Hall of Famer probably ends up on the practice squad this year.
Corey Clement - Looked like he had a chance to make the roster before the Eagles signed LeGarrette Blount.
Dorial Green-Beckham - Oh wait he’s already gone.
Why weren’t these players included?
Torrey Smith - He’s a lock to make the roster. Yes, he only received $500K guaranteed, but he’s no Rueben Randle/Chris Givens. Smith actually gives effort and he’s a good locker room guy. Plus he had a good spring.
Nelson Agholor - The Eagles would actually lose $2.3 million in cap space by cutting him. Plus he showed some promise in the spring.
Wendell Smallwood - I’ve seen/heard some people mention him as a surprise cut dating back to last year. I really doubt it. Running back coach Duce Staley really likes Smallwood. Not to mention he could be the lead ball carrier if Blount got hurt.
Jason Kelce - Looks like the Eagles are keeping him at this point despite rumors they were ready to move on. I wouldn’t completely rule out a trade, but I’m not counting on it.
Mychal Kendricks - Cutting Kendricks wouldn’t make sense because the Eagles kept him past a date where a portion of his salary became guaranteed. A trade could still happen.
Jordan Matthews - The Eagles obviously won’t cut Matthews, but I wouldn’t rule out a trade.