The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. During the next two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers will try our best to predict who stays and who goes. The NFL deadline for teams to trim rosters from 90 to 75 is Aug. 27. Final cuts are due by Aug. 31. Here’s the lineup:
Wed, Aug. 15: Offensive line
Thur., Aug. 16: Defensive tackles
Fri., Aug. 17: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 20: Running backs
Tues., Aug. 21: Wide receivers / tight ends
Wed., Aug. 22: Linebackers
Thur., Aug. 23: Safeties
Fri., Aug. 24: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 27: Defensive ends
LIKELY TO KEEP: 3.
WHO STAYS: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mike Kafka
WHO GOES: Trent Edwards
There is no question about the Eagles’ starting quarterback. Vick, the Eagles’ $100 million man, enters a critical year for his future in Philadelphia. Vick has been dynamic during parts of his two seasons as the Eagles’ starter, but he has also been injury prone. He left both of the first two preseason games early with injury. It is critical for Vick to stay healthy for the Eagles to believe he is the quarterback going forward. It also important that Vick cuts down on turnovers for the Eagles’ offense to reach his potential.
Because Vick is injury prone, the backup quarterback spot in Philadelphia is a scrutinized player. The Eagles did not sign a veteran with a high profile, as they did in 2011 with Vince Young or have in the past with Jeff Garcia. The plan was for Kafka, who is entering his third season in the offense, would become the No. 2. The Eagles draft Foles to be a developmental prospect, and Trent Edwards was veteran insurance.
A funny thing happened on the way to the season, though: Kafka fractured his left hand in the preseason opener. Foles filled in and has looked outstanding. He’s a rookie quarterback, so enthusiasm must be tempered, but Foles could stake a claim to being the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback. Either way, Foles is a lock for the roster.
Kafka has an outside shot of playing in the preseason finale against the Jets. If he does not, have the Eagles seen enough to make him the No. 2 quarterback – or even guarantee a roster spot? That’s a question that has been going around. The Eagles know Kafka and are confident in what he can do. But if Foles is the No. 2, then what value is Kafka providing?
Still, expect Kafka to make the roster. He knows the offense and the Eagles know him. They find him promising. Also, Kafka could start the season as the backup, but Foles could play if there's a prolonged absence from Vick. That's what happened last season with Vince Young and Kafka. However, there is no question that Kafka's injury has complicated the situation.
Much depends on what happens the next two games, especially with Edwards. Edwards has won games as an NFL starter, but was out of football last season. If he is not picked up by another team, Edwards could be insurance as a street free agent who has an understanding of the offense. If he plays well enough during the next two games, perhaps he beats out Kafka. But Edwards understood the situation when he arrived.
The Eagles could also add a veteran via trade. Colt McCoy and Tavaris Jackson are two players who lost starting jobs this summer and have experience in systems similar to the Eagles. From the way it sounded all summer, the Eagles like the quarterbacks on their roster. And Foles might prove to be ready to relieve quicker than anticipated.
Andy Reid likes to keep three quarterbacks. But if Foles is the backup, the Eagles could theoretically keep only two and save a roster spot. (13 NFL teams entered last year with two quarterbacks, so it’s not rare.) Don’t expect that to happen, though, unless Reid deviates from his roster composition throughout his career.
LIKELY TO KEEP: 3.
WHO STAYS: Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbas
WHO GOES: Chas Henry
Henery and Dorenbas are fairly obvious. They have no competition against them. In Henery’s case, he must follow a strong rookie season with being reliable in clutch situations. He came through in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh and will be a staple of the Eagles’ future if he continues on that path during the season.
As for punter, McBriar is the front-runner for a reason. He is a two-time Pro Bowler. As long as he’s healthy, the Eagles would be able to count on him. McBriar believes he’ll be healthy for the season. Henry is putting up a strong fight, though. Holding will factor into this situation, too. But the Eagles appear to be fortified with their specialists.