The Philadelphia Eagles have an open roster after cutting Craig James last week. And it looks like they’ll be looking to fill that vacancy prior to the team’s first 2022 training camp practice on Wednesday.
The Birds are working out several free agents at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, according to my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski.
The identity of only one of those players has been revealed as of me typing these words. On Sunday evening, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Eagles would be signing former Dallas Cowboys running back JaQuan Hardy. Tomasson has since clarified that Hardy has not yet signed but “there is optimism about a signing.”
Just a theory but perhaps the mix-up here can be explained by the Eagles not wanting the non-Hardy tryout players think they’re wasting their time by showing up? And that the roster spot is already going to him regardless of how the workout goes? Again, just guessing.
In any case, Hardy would be a sensible signing for the Birds. They currently only have five running backs under contract, which is a little light. Speaking of light, Hardy is the opposite of that relative to other players at his position. Measuring at 5’10”, 225 pounds, Hardy would be the heaviest running back on the Eagles’ roster. Second-heaviest is undrafted rookie free agent Kennedy Brooks, who weighs two pounds more Miles Sanders.
With the Eagles opting not to re-sign Jordan Howard, they lack a true “bigger back” on their roster. Hardy can fill that mold for them.
Of course, size for the sake of size isn’t that valuable. Is Hardy any good?
He was a productive player at Division II Tiffin University, logging 501 carries for 3,207 yards (6.4 average) and 28 touchdowns. Hardy didn’t play in 2020 due to the pandemic shutting down his team’s football program. He then joined the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft.
During the 2021 preseason, Hardy had 26 carries for 77 yards (2.96 average). He then spent most of his rookie season on the Cowboys’ practice squad but did see four carries for 29 yards and one touchdown (which came against the Eagles in Week 18 last year).
Hardy was in position to compete for a roster spot as the third running back in Dallas this year before he was waived earlier this month. Here’s what our enemies over at Blogging The Boys recently wrote about him:
Hardy is a 2021 Hard Knocks favorite and Division II standout from Tiffin College.
Although Hardy hails from a Division II program, he has the size and speed to compete at the NFL level. He is 5’10” and weighs 225 pounds and also runs a 4.56 40 yard dash. In college, he was dominant and scored 31 total touchdowns in just 33 games. In his final year at Tiffin he rushed for 1554 yards on just 204 carries, that’s an average of 7.6 yards a touch. If a Division II-level player wants to get any looks at the pro level, that is the kind of stat line you must have. You have to literally dominate your opponent every chance you get.
Coming into the 2021 season, the Cowboys were on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. From that series, many people got their first look at Hardy and by the shows end he was a fan favorite. TV show aside, Hardy did get his chance in the NFL by appearing in three games his rookie year. As seen in this highlight, Hardy made the most of his opportunity against the Philadelphia Eagles. Aside from this highlight, Hardy did most of his work on special teams as he appeared in 66% of the special teams’ snaps in three games played.
From his tape in college and early on in his NFL journey, he shows good burst, but appears to be more quick than straight-line fast. He is also very shifty as well. Like Dowdle, Hardy also has that tendency to put the ball on the ground more than you would like and isn’t much of a pass-catching threat either.
Assuming the Eagles do indeed sign him, Hardy will need to turn in a strong training camp and preseason to earn a roster spot. Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell all figure to make the team. Hardy, Brooks, and Jason Huntley are likely competing for a fourth spot. Though it might not be impossible that they keep five.
One would assume the other free agents the Eagles are working out fit in a similar bucket with Hardy’s background. That’s to say less experienced players as opposed to big-name vets.