As the 2018 offseason gets underway, plenty of eyes will be on free agency and which players might come and go as the Philadelphia Eagles look to retool the roster that won them their first-ever Super Bowl in February.
But what about the players already on the roster? What about the ones who, although overlooked through a national lens, could find themselves with bigger roles entering the new year?
Here, we take a look at five — the Eagles who are already Eagles that you should probably get to know:
QB Nate Sudfeld
His name saw more daylight after Carson Wentz’s injury, and it’s seen even more since the advent of offseason speculation surrounding Nick Foles. But what percent of Eagles fans even knew he was on the 53-man roster in, say, November?
Sudfeld is a guy who factors into this QB room whether or not Foles is still standing as the No. 2 come September. If Wentz isn’t ready for Opening Day, he’s the backup. If Foles is traded, he’s still the backup. And the Eagles have not been shy about talking up his poise, even if some of that talk may have been coach-speak to soften the blow of Wentz’s loss.
From a size perspective, he’s essentially a leaner version of Foles at 6-foot-6. His tape shows a nice, downfield touch pass, not to mention a splash of spryness. His resume, obviously, shows little — just 23 passes, all in Week 17, since coming in as a sixth-rounder with the Washington Redskins in 2016. But his role only figures to grow moving forward.
WR Greg Ward Jr.
Undrafted out of Houston in 2017, the former college quarterback made a quick transition to wideout in the summer leading up to his rookie year, so much so that plenty of people wouldn’t have been surprised if he cracked the 53-man roster instead of, say, No. 5 man Marcus Johnson.
After spending all but a few days of the 2017 season on the practice squad, Ward has a year of development under his belt and could factor in not only at WR, where Torrey Smith could be on the way out, but more so as a utility man of sorts. If he can refine his punt-returning skills, which he also used in college, who’s to say he can’t make a spoiler play for the role of Swiss Army knife?
TE Billy Brown
If you followed the Eagles’ 2017 preseason, you probably took notice of this big guy (6-4, 255). And if either Trey Burton and/or Brent Celek depart the tight end spot behind Zach Ertz, Philly is going to be in the market for reserve help. Brown is no sure thing against NFL coverage, let alone pass rushers, but his size and raw receiving talent at least make him a reasonable bet for No. 3 duties in 2018.
DE Steven Means
He’ll be going into his fourth season with the Eagles in 2018, so he shouldn’t be an unfamiliar face. But if you go strictly off snaps played, Means hasn’t exactly given fans much reason to know who he is — to no fault of his own, of course. The guy has simply been buried behind heavy front-four depth since signing as a backup in 2015.
And yet there’s also reason to keep an eye on him. Unlike former first-rounder Marcus Smith, Means’ time on the roster hasn’t been wasted away as a result of his own shortcomings. In limited action, the former Buccaneers and Ravens reserve has actually brought the heat up front. If Vinny Curry goes elsewhere in 2018, he could have a shot at increased playing time in the pass-rush rotation.
S Tre Sullivan
The Eagles are always looking to unearth backup/special teams depth at the safety position, often utilizing the latter parts of the draft and the undrafted free agent pool to take flyers. Sullivan, who spent most of his rookie year on the team’s practice squad, flashed big-hitting ability in the 2017 preseason and offers toned size (6-0, 200). He’s got a long road to making the final cut, but the raw physicality is worth watching.