The Eagles got their roster down to 53 on Saturday, with some surprise cuts and few that seemed inevitable. Ultimately the team released defensive end Steven Means and running back Donnel Pumphrey, but ended up keeping Jordan Mailata.
It was a big day for the team as they settle in to game week, heading into the 2018 season opener against Atlanta. Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman talked about the final roster and getting ready for their first season as reigning Super Bowl Champions.
He opened his press conference by thanking Brent Celek for everything he’s done for the organization, and emphasized what Jeff Lurie had said, that the tight end is always welcome back and contribute whenever he’d like.
Roseman then spoke about how tough Saturday was for everyone as they had to start making roster cuts. They talked to 37 guys and the GM said it was the toughest part of their job, especially for some of the guys who participated in the World Championship win.
He talked about the shortened time frame from the final preseason game, and how it was different because this year you had other players in the building when they were making their cuts.
But, now that they have their 53-man team, the scouts are already out there looking at who else has been cut around the league, and look at how they might improve their roster and practice squad. He said it’s a quick 24 hours and even moreso with the team playing their opener on Thursday.
Roseman was asked about whether Nick Foles would be the starter in the opener, but the GM quickly shut down any chance of answering any question about the starting lineup. As he pointed out, “that’s not my dojo”.
He was asked if he was surprised by the improvement by Jordan Mailata, and Roseman lauded Jeff Stoutland for developing the rugby player and talked about how exciting it is to watch him continue to get better with each game.
“It’s so hard to find guys who are 6’8, 360 pounds who can run like that, who have the core strength that he does. Certainly, there’s no guarantees but we want to develop players, and when you can find guys at hard to find positions to develop it gets you excited.”
Roseman talked about how it was challenging to be last on the waiver wire. He quipped that it’s a good problem to have, but that he and the front office talked about whether it’d be worth doing some trades ahead of this point. Ultimately, they feel like they are still in a good spot.
He then pulled his phone out of pocket and got somewhat distracted....
Then was was asked about a report he traded for Deiondre Hall. Roseman said he was waiting to be able to confirm or deny that report, but said he’d keep an eye on his phone during the remainder of the press conference.
For the moment, everyone moved on.
Roseman said it was difficult letting anyone go, because really they had chosen every single person in that locker room. Even the UDFAs were people they wanted to have there, so it’s a challenge to make those decisions to whittle the roster down to just 53.
He was asked about the team’s decision to keep Nick Foles this season, and he emphasized that they invest in the quarterback position, and keeping the quarterback room stocked is a priority for the team. It wasn’t a reflection of Carson Wentz’s injury, just a position group they don’t mind investing additional resources to keep top-of-the-line.
Back to Deiondre Hall...Roseman later confirmed that the team did acquire the cornerback despite Hall’s one-game suspension to start the season. He said that the team did their due diligence before making the deal, and that they will get him in for a physical right away.
He then realized he wasn’t quite ready to talk specifics, and things moved on.
Roseman said they feel confident with their linebacker room, and the position itself has evolved a lot, so they are happy to have some younger guys to mold. He mentioned the special teams room as well, and said he’s happy to have younger guys with potential.
He continued to talk about the team’s commitment to Mailata, and how they did so back in the draft when they gave up two picks to get him. Howie said they wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t have intentions of developing him longterm.
Roseman also said it was fun to see some of the veteran guys from throughout the roster, including defensive lineman, step up to help mold the new football player.
Stoutland really went to bat for Mailata pre-draft, and was the driving force to getting him in the seventh round. The OL coach went and worked out the Aussie, and was so excited, he sent video-after-video to Roseman, and made the case through the actual draft pick.
He was then asked about the running back decisions. Roseman said the priority is to make sure the coaches have the guys they need on the 46-man roster first, and then make sure the backups and practice squad have some familiarity with the organization. He didn’t really mention any particular player involved for that group’s cuts.
Roseman talked about DeAndre Carter getting one of the wide receiver spots, and talked about how they evaluated all of his film from training camp. Despite him coming in late, they looked at all of his targets and team reps, and saw “the separation, the versatility, he’s strong to the ball ... and the play was really good. And he can return punts too.”
On Steven Means, Roseman said he was the last cut for the team. He said it was because of what he means to the team and just as a person, that it was a very difficult decision. Roseman said they are deep at some positions that are usually hard to find, and ultimately had to fill the roster with other talent, but that releasing Means was a tough one.