The cuts are coming. Many of the 90-plus faces we’ve seen in Eagles uniforms over the past month will soon be on their way out of Philadelphia as Andy Reid begins paring down his roster to the 53 players he hopes can finally deliver a championship.
We know the Eagles love to pass and gear up their defense to stop opposing quarterbacks. We know that they have big goals – not in the future, but right now. This year. We know they’ve spent big on free agents and also had a huge draft class. With all of those bodies in town, the Eagles can’t keep everyone. It’s easy to make arguments that, say, there are five safeties worth keeping or five defensive tackles who could contribute. But the fact is the Eagles can only go heavy in so many areas. At some point Reid will have to decide if he’d rather have an extra pass rusher or an added safety, one more offensive lineman or a special teams ace.
Many of the final decisions aren’t quite made – first cuts arrive Tuesday, and the roster will be down to size over Labor Day weekend. Thursday’s third preseason game will probably be a big factor in deciding who sticks around.
Over the next several days, we’ll take a look at each position group on the team and tell you who’s a lock to make the roster, who is gone, and who is in that interesting middle ground, with something to prove.
Today we start with defensive ends.
Likely to keep: 5-6
Locks: Trent Cole - Duh, best pass rusher on the team; Jason Babin - The Eagles didn’t make him a top free agent priority to let him go.
Near lock: Darryl Tapp - Nice rotational player who contributes. His big salary might make the Eagles worry a bit, but they are already under the cap, Tapp will probably stay. Doesn’t hurt that he was a Howie Roseman acquisition.
Bubble: Juqua Parker - The veteran DE probably winds up as part of the rotation, but he slowed down late last year and has missed time with a calf strain. If the Eagles really like their younger options, perhaps they cut the cord. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim - He was a third round pick last year, and showed some improvement in training camp, so perhaps the Eagles aren’t willing to cut ties so fast. On the other hand, the improvement was over nearly no production as a rookie and he hasn’t shown a lot in the preseason. Philip Hunt - He’s shown speed in flashes, but hasn’t been consistent. He was a small investment, so cutting Hunt may be easier than letting DTN go, though he has been more of a presence in games.
PUP: Brandon Graham – The Eagles still believe in last year’s number one pick, but with all of their options on the line, they won’t rush Graham back to action. He’ll get six more weeks, at least, to heal up.
IR: Victor Abiamiri – Hurt in camp, the team is obligated to keep him. He counts against the salary cap, too.
Gone: Chris Wilson.