New this NFL season, teams are now permitted to protect four of their 16 practice squad members from being poached by other clubs on a weekly basis.
The Philadelphia Eagles designated the following four players ahead of Week 5: tight end Jason Croom, defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, safety Grayland Arnold, and safety Elijah Riley.
The Eagles added Croom to their practice squad last week. He gives the team an experienced tight end behind Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers while Dallas Goedert is on injured reserve. They could look to elevate him to the roster if they want three tight ends for game day. The Eagles only went with two against the San Francisco 49ers.
Interesting to see McGill receive another protection. The Eagles previously protected him when Javon Hargrave wasn’t ready to play earlier in the season. Fletcher Cox got banged up in Week 4 so maybe this is an insurance policy if he can’t go.
This week marks the second time Arnold has been protected. He’s already been elevated to the roster twice, though, which means he’d have to pass through waivers before returning to the practice squad if he’s bumped up again.
On that note, the Eagles might opt to instead elevate Riley from the practice squad this week since he wouldn’t have to go through the waiver process. The Eagles protecting two safeties doesn’t seem to bode well for Will Parks’ chances of being activated from injured reserve even though he’s now eligible to return. The need for more safety depth could also indicate that Avonte Maddox isn’t ready to return and Jalen Mills will continue to play cornerback.
Deontay Burnett is NOT protected for the first time this season. Based on something Doug Pederson previously said, I thought teams could only protect a single player up to four times per season, but it turns out that’s not the case. They can be protected an unlimited amount of times. But Burnett has already been elevated to the roster twice, which means he’d have to pass through waivers if he’s elevated again.
The Eagles still have three open practice squad spots. They could fill one of them by re-signing Adrian Killins, assuming he clears waivers (update: he did). The Eagles brought in undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Dante Olson, who was with the team in camp, to begin COVID-19 testing so he’ll likely take another spot. That leaves one spot remaining.
The Eagles waiving Killins also means they still have one open spot on the 53.
Stay tuned for more roster news this week.
See below for a current look at the Eagles’ 2020 practice squad.
TE Jason Croom (protected) [Times protected this season: 1]
DT T.Y. McGill (protected) 
S Grayland Arnold (protected) 
S Elijah Riley (protected) 
QB Josh McCown
RB Elijah Holyfield
WR Deontay Burnett 
WR Marcus Green
TE Caleb Wilson
OT Prince Tega Wanogho
DE Joe Ostman 
DT Raequan Williams
CB Michael Jacquet
DE Matt Leo (international spot - doesn’t count towards limit)