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Former Soul DE Metz joins Eagles ahead of preseason finale

By: Andrew DiCecco, Sports Talk Philly Staff

At this time a year ago, Jake Metz was preparing to make his NFL debut against the New York Jets as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. A year later, Metz found himself in a familiar situation when he was claimed off waivers by his hometown Eagles on Wednesday. 

A graduate of Souderton Area High School, Metz attended Shippensburg University from 2010-2013, where he finished his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in both sacks (30.5) and tackles for a loss (55). 

Despite going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, he remained an intriguing prospect to NFL scouts, and conducted workouts for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions. After months of persistence, Metz earned his first professional contract, signing with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League on October 7, 2014. Metz appeared sparingly in his rookie year, as he spent the season adjusting to the indoor game. It wasn't until his second season that he began to make his presence felt.

Metz led the Soul with 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 2016, and was named AFL Defensive Lineman of the Year for his performance. A fan favorite, he proved to be an integral part the Soul's championship team, coming up with a crucial sack and fumble recovery in the waning minutes of ArenaBowl XXIX. Shortly following the teams championship parade, he received a phone call that presented him with the opportunity of a lifetime.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Metz on August 30, 2016 following a private workout. The local product had little time to celebrate, though, as the team was set to take on the New York Jets just two days later. As unlikely as it may have seemed months before, there Metz was - playing in front of over one hundred of his family and friends at Lincoln Financial Field. "I'm a Philly guy, so to grow up in that city and know how passionate the fans are, and to win a championship with the Soul was amazing, and then get the opportunity to play in the stadium in front of my friends and family was amazing," Metz said after reflecting on his NFL debut. Unfortunately numbers at the position factor into the equation when dealing with roster spots, and the Eagles opted to make Metz a casualty on cut day. Though a disappointing result for the then 25-year old, it was not a conclusion - a new opportunity was on the horizon.

Metz spent last fall playing for the Qingdao Clipper of the newly established China Arena Football League, a six-team, eight-on-eight football league. The league required four Chinese players and four "foreign" players be on the field at all times. Metz was drafted in the third round of the 2016 CAFL Draft, and spent the season at middle linebacker, where he would draw the plays on his chest to communicate with the other players. The 6-foot-6 265-pound Metz spoke on his experience "By the end, I couldn't speak English to my teammates, but we were best friends even though I couldn't understand a word they were saying. We got to expose the sport to all the major cities and it really blew up, so I think that league is going to be a big deal." Metz's Qingdao Clipper fell to the Beijing Lions 35-34 in the inaugural China Bowl. Metz earned All-Pro North Division All-Star honors for his efforts.

Upon returning to Philadelphia, Metz received a contract offer from the Buffalo Bills, who signed him on April 7, 2017. This opportunity was far different from his one-game stint with the Eagles - he was now afforded the luxury of going through offseason workouts, OTAs and familiarizing himself with Buffalo's playbook.

Metz returned to Lincoln Financial Field on August 17, this time to take on his hometown Eagles. A cool moment occurred just after halftime, when a number of his former Philadelphia Soul teammates were being honored for going to their second Arena Bowl in as many years. They looked to Buffalo's sideline for Metz, and he acknowledged them with a "fist pump" from across the field.

After a productive training camp, Metz again fell victim to a numbers game - after strong camps from young prospects Eddie Yarbrough, Ryan Davis and Sean Ian. The Bills waived Metz on August 29, and everything came full circle when he was claimed by the Eagles yesterday, ahead of the preseason finale versus the New York Jets. Metz will aim to make every opportunity count, and figures to see a lot of snaps alongside second-year defensive end Alex McCalister. 

While most fans skip the final preseason game, there are stories like Jake Metz that make tuning in worthwhile. The fourth preseason game is always the most competitive in my experience, as you have players who are all playing for something different. The fourth preseason game is about players on the bubble making one final push to prove they belong, or players looking to put their best effort on film for 31 other teams, or in Metz's case - play for his hometown team perhaps one more time.

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