The Philadelphia Eagles worked out two free agents on Monday: punter Braden Mann and linebacker Brandon Smith.
Mann is the fourth punter the Birds have brought in since cutting Arryn Siposs and signing him to the practice squad last week. The Eagles previously tried out Blake Gillikin, Pat O’Donnell, and Colby Wadman.
Mann reportedly drew interest from Philly when he was waived by the New York Jets back in April. He was awarded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, since they had a higher priority in the waiver claim order. The Steelers kept Mann as one of two punters on their original 53-man roster before cutting him one day later.
Pro Football Focus graded Mann as their fourth-best punter in 2022. He was 21st in average net yards per punt with 41.0 and 12th in average hangtime at 4.35 seconds.
PFF graded Gillikin tied for 15th and O’Donnell 27th last year. Gillikin was 14th in average net yards per punt and 22nd in average hangtime. O’Donnell ranked 29th and 32nd, respectively. Wadman, meanwhile, has not logged a regular season NFL punt since 2019.
Siposs graded 32nd out of 34 punters last season. He was 27th in average net yards per punt and 25th in average hangtime.
The Eagles should stop messing around and cut bait with Siposs already. The devil they don’t know is better than the one they do at this point. Siposs proved untrustworthy in each of the Eagles’ last two playoff losses. And there’s reason to believe Mann or Gillikin can be upgrades on him.
The Eagles’ first practice ahead of their Week 1 game is on Wednesday so we’ll see if they make a move by then. One would think they’d want to get a new punter up to speed in terms of their role as a holder in the kicking operation.
The Eagles hosted Smith, a Penn State alumnus, on a visit prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. He was a fourth-round pick (No. 120 overall) by the Carolina Panthers last year before getting waived under a new coaching regime this summer. With the Eagles thin at off-ball linebacker (only three on the roster), they could conceivably have interest in signing Smith to a practice squad spot at some point.