5 Eagles players fighting for their careers in 2022

Jalen Reagor

Let's get the obvious one out of the way.

Jalen Reagor was given the chance to become the team's #1 wideout in his first year as the team was near bereft of wide receiver talent. It's fair to say that he has not lived up to those expectations thus far. He is currently 5th in the pecking order behind Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal. It doesn't help matters that his rookie contract is running thin, either.

Let's get 2 things straight here:

  1. Reagor will be on the team this year barring a trade. It will cost the team far more to cut him than it would to bury him on the depth chart.
  2. Reagor's first round pedigree will earn him at least a look in another training camp after he leaves the Eagles.

The worst part of his tape is how obviously disinterested he can be at times as a blocker or a 3rd+ read on a play. It does more harm than you may think, as it telegraphs to the defense whether he expects to be a threat or not and allows them to key in on other offensive players. The infamous Reagor screens and jet sweeps this past year were a reasonable attempt to allow him the opportunity to create offense for himself but ultimately proved to be ineffective. There were FOUR games this last season where you, yes YOU, produced just as many if not more yards for the Eagles than Reagor.

He almost reminds me of Travis Fulgham in the sense that there is talent that flashes at times but the lack of drive and effort behind the scenes to truly put it all together will ultimately be his downfall. This year may be his last chance to put together a respectable season as a role player.

With how his time has gone in midnight green and the vitriol he has received from most of the fan base, I cannot imagine him wanting to play here after his contract expires. Ultimately, this will be the best for both parties as Reagor desperately needs a fresh start somewhere else.

As an aside, I do wish him well as he copes with the loss of his friend Jeff Gladney. It can be easy to talk about someone as strictly a football player and not as another person like you and I, but losing a close friend is never easy to discern. I send my thoughts and prayers to him and the Gladney family.

Davion Taylor

For as shocking as the 2020 Draft turned out to be, this was the pick that I absolutely hated upon snap judgement. Taylor was a late bloomer to the field as he was not allowed to play football on Friday nights due to his family's religious practices as Seventh-day Adventists. Drafting him in the third round was banking on his athletic talents and potential. But let's not sugarcoat it, he hasn't made enough progress before reinforcements came.

I can see the argument that the LB corps of the time was led by Nate Gerry (who hasn't played a down since the 2020 season) but he was too raw to contribute on anything more than special teams in his rookie year. Last season did show noticeable improvement with 41 total tackles and 2 forced fumbles (according to PFR) but he failed to stay healthy throughout the season and only played in 9 games, starting 6. Now, heading into 2022, he appears to be 4th in the pecking order behind some combination of T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White, and Nakobe Dean (hey look, another 3rd-round linebacker!). Keep in mind that the Eagles defense will have multiple fronts, but it is safe to assume that running with 3 linebackers will likely be a rarity. It will be more common to have a SAM linebacker like Haason Reddick take the field, especially in obvious passing situations.

While not trending towards "bust" status, Taylor has found himself on the outside looking in. He is running the risk of becoming a massive "what if" talent who can produce in his time on the field but fails to stay healthy enough to be on the field, like the poor man's Eagles iteration of Jordan Hicks (hey look, another 3rd round linebacker!)

K'Von Wallace

[Note: I started drafting this article the day before the Jaquiski Tartt signing, so this section may read like a heavily edited draft of what I had previously written. WHOOPS]

Are we noticing a trend here?

Time is running short on the 2020 draft class and Wallace is no exception. While spending a fair amount of time on injured reserve last season, he has never appeared to be much of a threat for the starting safety job or a significant role in the Eagles defense when healthy. With McLeod leaving and Epps sliding into the starting role (with no threat of competition from Wallace it appears by all reports) Wallace had the chance to contribute in the 3rd safety role as Epps and Corey Graham have done before him. With the signing of Tartt on Friday, however, this has become far less of a possibility for him.

Regardless of whether you think Tartt will eventually take a starting role or serve as a backup, this move was a clear indication that the Eagles did not feel comfortable with their depth behind the two starters. More specifically, they do not want to hand Wallace a top-3 safety role without earning it first in training camp.

Of everyone the Eagles drafted in 2020 that have been mentioned in this article, Wallace faces the most real threat of not being on the Eagles 2022 roster. The Eagles appeared to show interest in some of the top veteran safety options such as Marcus Williams and the Honey Badger this offseason. Aside from the new addition of Tartt, his most direct competition is Andre Chachare who has shown additional value as a solid gunner on special teams. He also faces the threat of one of the incoming UDFAs in the secondary jumping him if they prove enough such as Josh Jobe or Reed Blankenship, not to mention the bevy of young secondary players on the roster that Howie has accrued in the hopes of at least one panning out like Mac McCain III, Josiah Scott, Tay Gowan, and Kary Vincent Jr. There are a lot of young guys trying to prove themselves this offseason, which puts Wallace on very shaky ground if he can't beat them out.

Richard Rodgers

We all know DickRod is gonna be on this team forever, right?

Rodgers was brought in to be a backup tight end to Zach Ertz in 2018, but Philadelphia also added Dallas Goedert later that month in the draft. Despite being pushed to the #3 spot, he has carved out a role for himself in the Eagles offense and has been brought back multiple times when they've needed depth at the position. The fact that he has been able to do so under two different head coaches is a testament to his dependability for the coaching staff. Heading into the 2022 season, this may not be the case for the first time in years.

With Dallas Goedert firmly entrenched as the starter, his two most likely backups are last year's pleasant UDFA surprise Jack Stoll and rookie 6th-round pick Grant Calcaterra. Rodgers will likely only be able to serve as injury insurance this season, as the pass-catching talent of the WR, TE and RB groups are as good as they have ever been during his tenure with the team.

He will likely be cut while forming the 53-man roster and brought back as needed after Week 1 so that his salary will not be guaranteed. Rodgers being poached by another team mid-season as a free agent isn't impossible but it certainly isn't very likely. And finally...

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Whoo boy...

Remember how I said Davion Taylor isn't trending towards "bust" territory and is more a victim of circumstance and bad injury luck? The same can't be said for poor J.J.. The 2019 2nd-round pick has now converted from WR to TE in the hopes to save his career and at least be able to find a depth role on the team. The chances are looking incredibly slim even in this desperation move, however, with the previously mentioned Goedert, Stoll, Calcaterra, Rodgers, and even Tyree Jackson serving as competition.

In order for him to make the team, he will have to beat out Rodgers and Stoll in camp and hope Jackson starts the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Good luck.

The best way for Arcega-Whiteside to continue his NFL career in my opinion would be to essentially become another team's Jack Stoll. Serve as a blocking TE in obvious rushing situations and try to stand out in special teams on kickoff returns/coverages. While both players do offer some pass-catching ability, that should not be depended upon in the slightest and never in crunch time situations in J.J.'s case. While I do respect that he was able to do just enough as a blocker last year to make the team, having him on the 2022 roster would be a sign that this team is not nearly as deep as we think it is.