There’s some Philadelphia Eagles roster news to discuss exiting the bye week. Here’s an overview:
- LB Anthony Barr, OG Andrew Norwell, C Lecitus Smith, and TE Noah Togiai visited the Eagles as free agents, according to NFL insider Mike Garafolo.
- C Ross Pierschbacher was officially signed to the practice squad.
- CB Kindle Vildor was officially released from the practice squad.
Let’s sort through this news on a player-by-player basis.
UPDATE: Barr is reportedly re-joining the Vikings since Jordan Hicks got hurt. Scratch him off the list for the Eagles.
ORIGINAL WRITE-UP BELOW.
Barr is a recognizable name as a four-time Pro Bowler who was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The veteran caused a little excitement when he was signed last offseason, and he was a decent option at linebacker in 2022. But he didn’t exactly establish himself as a ‘must-have’ for Dallas, and with players like Damone Clark, Jabril Cox and Devin Harper looking to get playing time, and the return of Leighton Vander Esch, Barr’s return seems unlikely.
For what it’s worth, Barr ranked 52nd out of 90 off-ball linebackers graded by Pro Football Focus last year. He allowed a 101.4 passer rating when targeted in coverage, which isn’t great. But, hey, there’s a reason Barr is still available to sign at this time of year.
The Eagles’ interest in Barr seemingly stems from the expectation that Nakobe Dean will go back on injured reserve due to a new foot injury. With Dean on IR, the Eagles are left with three off-ball linebackers on the roster: Zach Cunningham, Nicholas Morrow, and Christian Elliss. Cunningham and Morrow have exceeded low expectations but Elliss hasn’t been trusted to play defensive snaps since Week 3.
Adding Barr to the mix would give the Eagles more experienced depth behind Cunningham and Morrow. Realistic best case scenario, he’s probably Just A Guy (JAG) at this stage but signing him is worth a shot.
Norwell was once considered to be the prize of free agency; he signed a record-breaking guard contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.
But Norwell failed to live up to lofty expectations during four years down in Duval. He then joined the Washington Commanders in 2022 but cut got after one season where he ranked 48th out of 84 guards graded by PFF.
The Eagles’ interest in Norwell could be related to losing three practice squad offensive linemen in recent weeks. They might want to replenish their depth there.
Smith was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with a sixth-round pick (No. 215) overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. He made two starts in 10 games as a rookie before getting waived ahead of the 2023 season. Smith recently spent a brief stint on the Houston Texans’ practice squad.
Again, the Eagles are apparently in the market for more OL depth and Smith offers guard/center versatility.
Togiai originally signed with the Eagles an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. He was claimed off waivers by the Indianapolis Colts but returned to Philly in 2021 and remained on the Eagles’ practice squad through the 2022 season.
Togiai then went over to the Arizona Cardinals with Jonathan Gannon in the offseason. He spent some time on the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad in October.
With Dallas Goedert injured, the Eagles could look to add some more tight end depth on their practice squad. Togiai already has familiarity with the scheme and has experience playing on special teams.
Pierschbacher (pronounced Peersh-Baker) is back in Philly after a previous stint with the team. The Eagles originally signed the 2019 fifth-round pick (No. 153 overall) away from the Washington Commanders’ practice squad during the 2020 season.
After being cut by the Eagles ahead of the 2021 season, Pierschbacher spent time as a practice squad player with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. He was waived by the Lions with an injury designation during 2023 training camp.
The Eagles saw a need to add more center depth after losing Julian Good-Jones to Washington last week. Signing Pierschbacher gives the team more insurance at that spot.
The Eagles signed Vildor to their practice squad on October 20. They must not feel the need for extra cornerback depth at this point in time.
It’s worth noting that the Eagles didn’t need to cut Vildor to make room for Pierschbacher since they didn’t fill a spot after losing JGJ. The Eagles must plan on making at least one more practice squad signing this week. Probably one of the four guys they worked out!
UPDATED EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD
Number of utilized practice squad elevations (three maximum limit) listed in parentheses.
WR Devon Allen (2)
CB Mekhi Garner (2)
LB Ben VanSumeren (1)
DB Tristin McCollum (1)
C Ross Pierschbacher
TE E.J. Jenkins
CB Mario Goodrich
LB Brandon Smith
DE Tarron Jackson
DT Thomas Booker
DT Noah Ellisss
OT Le’Raven Clark
RB Lew Nichols
WR Joseph Ngata
WR Greg Ward