Monday, February 8, 2016

Making sense of the Bell/Baskett move

The Eagles released veteran wide receiver Hank Baskett Tuesday and signed RB Joique Bell. What does the move mean for the players already on the roster?

Making sense of the Bell/Baskett move

Hank Baskett, seen here catching a ball during training camp, has been released by the Eagles. (David Maialetti / Staff file photo)
Hank Baskett, seen here catching a ball during training camp, has been released by the Eagles. (David Maialetti / Staff file photo)

As you probably know by now, the Eagles have signed running back Joique Bell from the Bills' practice squad and released wide receiver Hank Baskett.

The move gives the Eagles four running backs (LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley and Joique Bell) and a fullback (Owen Schmitt) on their 53-man roster. The Birds are now down to just four wide receivers: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.

Let's start with the Baskett release. Baskett, Buckley and Mike Kafka were the only active skill position players who did not get on the field for a single offensive snap against the Lions. Baskett did not play in Week 1 either.

Why? Because the Eagles like Riley Cooper, and that's been clear since the early days of training camp. Cooper played 12 of 61 snaps (19.7 percent) against the Lions. The previous week, he played nine of 61 snaps (14.8 percent). As I wrote earlier, Michael Vick targeted Cooper three times, and he had his first NFL catch against Detroit.

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Were the results all great for the rookie? Of course not. He dropped the onside kick and also dropped a pass. But it's clear that he's a better option than Baskett offensively.

However, this makes the Eagles thinner at wide receiver. If one of the top four guys were to suffer an injury, they'd have to make a roster move. Consider that the Eagles went with four receivers on nearly 16 percent of their offensive plays in Week 2, and over 14 percent of their offensive plays so far this season.

If someone were to get injured, they could always bring Baskett back, assuming he doesn't sign with another team. And a quick Google search tells me Kelley Washington, who Baskett beat out during training camp, still has not found a team. The Eagles also have two wide receivers on their practice squad: Chad Hall and Jeremy Williams. And they just announced that they've released two other practice-squad players (safety Chip Vaughn and RB Martell Mallett), meaning they could add another receiver.

If you're wondering about Baskett on special teams, he actually was not a part of the kickoff or punt coverage units Sunday. He was a part of the return teams, and also the hands team at the end of the game.

As for Joique Bell, I'd be lying if I said I knew a lot about the guy. But as I mentioned last week, the Eagles are thin at running back. You could make the case that McCoy is one of their three or four most indispensable players, given who is playing behind him. Mike Bell played both fullback and halfback yesterday, but did not look sharp, carrying four times for zero yards. He also missed a blitz pickup (more on that in Man Up tomorrow) and dropped a pass.

The Eagles know what they have in Buckley.

If Joique Bell is any good, it wouldn't be surprising to see him activated over one of the current backups.

Earlier today, I took an in-depth look at Vick's performance against the Lions.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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