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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The 2020 Eagles roster will be quite different from the 2019 version with the team moving on from quite a few recent day one and two draft picks as well as some camp standouts.
Among high picks being released were Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Shareef Miller.
Among young talent that stood out in camp, Deontay Burnett, Adrian Killins, Joe Ostman and Raequan Williams also received notice of their release.
The team also went with a bit less of a balanced roster this season, carrying just two reserve corners, two total tight ends and three total running backs while stocking up on defensive ends, safeties and receivers.
The quarterback position on the 53-man roster has been essentially a lock that could only have been changed due to trade or injuries. The bigger question was whether they’d keep a fourth QB on the practice squad. The release of Kyle Lauletta well before roster cuts would seem to indicate he will not be the one to join them if that is the case.
These three were essentially locks by the middle of camp and the focus was on the fourth spot that had three competitors: highly-touted UDFA Michael Warren and preseason standouts Adrian Killins and Elijah Holyfield. The release of all three on Thursday essentially made the announcement about this group early.
While the Eagles will likely look to bring one or two of those backs onto the practice squad, the crunch at the running back position both shows faith in their top three guys as well as allows the team to load up elsewhere.
The opt out of Marquise Goodwin seemed to make this position much easier to predict, but preseason standout Deontay Burnett was in the mix.
With Burnett released Thursday to see if he clears waivers, the primary questions became will Alshon Jeffery start the season on the PUP list and who of the Hightower/Watkins pairing would make the squad. The answer appears to be that Jeffery will return (and perhaps be traded, considering he is reportedly still on the block) and not be placed on PUP and both rookie late-round picks, will stick on the roster.
Josh Perkins seemed like a shoe-in for the third tight end, but his placement on IR left the door wide-open for UDFA Noah Togiai. Togiai was one of the final cuts as the team will start with just two tight ends, a bit of a risky move given the injury histories of each of Ertz and Goedert in recent years.
Another oddity, the Eagles chose to keep just eight offensive linemen, perhaps with a plan to sign someone else later on.
The big question is who starts at left tackle with Peters wanting more money. Guard Matt Pryor has struggled with the transition and Jordan Mailata is still showing growing pains. Rookie Jack Driscoll is also in the mix, but still does not inspire a ton of confidence.
The release of 2020 pick Prince Tega Wanogho shows he is still a project and the team likely hopes to get him back on the practice squad. Sua Opeta was also a mild surprise as he is well liked by the staff. He is also a candidate for the practice squad should he clear waivers.
The biggest surprise here is that they team went with just four defensive tackles. Anthony Rush was pretty good in 2019 and Williams was highly thought of despite his UDFA status. This could be a good sign for Hargrave, who was dealing with an injury and whose status for week one was in some doubt.
The top four here were locks but the depth behind them is a surprise. Somehow, the team decided to keep an injured Genard Avery on the team. They could be looking to stash him on IR and re-sign one of their final cuts like 2019 fourth-round pick Shareef Miller or standout Joe Ostman.
Seventh-round pick Casey Toohill makes the roster in his first season despite being a long shot at a deep position.
The linebacker position was up in the air all summer and Shaun Bradley played hard in camp. So much so that they kept him around. With a lack of experience all around, it isn’t a shock that the team opted to keep veteran Alex Singleton around as a special teams player and backup.
While it would have been a surprise a few month ago, the Eagles handing Craig James a contract extension earlier this week makes it less of a shock that James, who made the deflection to win against the Packers in Wisconsin in 2019, will stick with a team that acquired top-tier options in Slay and Robey-Coleman.
James winds up taking the spot of the once-again injured Sidney Jones as he can be a depth option, but also serves as a key special teams contributor. It is mildly surprising that the Eagles couldn’t get anything in a trade for Jones. Douglas taking a pay cut still didn’t serve to save his spot with the team for another season. LeBlanc, though routinely impressive, remains stuck as a backup due to an inexpensive addition of one of the best slot corners in the NFL, but he and James will be the only backups for a position that has been besieged by injuries year after year.
Incredibly, the Eagles decided to keep six safety on the roster. Five would seem to push it, but six surely is. Parks is going to miss a few weeks and could see an IR placement (since he’d only need to miss three weeks this season) for the team to get a spot back.
The injury likely pushes rookie Wallace up to the third safety position where he will see snaps in week one unless the staff decides Epps is more prepared.
Marcus Epps is entering his second season and struggled a bit last season, but he played better than Sendejo and is looking to take yet another step forward. With Parks out and Mills potentially needing to play some corner with such a slim room there, he could see significant snaps.
Ford is well liked as a special teamer, but is unlikely to contribute defensively.
The Eagles didn’t have competitions for these positions in camp at all after re-signing two of the three last season and likely looking to re-sign Cameron Johnston this season or offseason.
It’s not a surprise the team would roll with them at this point with both their performances and contracts. The only one set to make a relatively significant amount against the cap is Elliott and they’d actually lose cap space by parting with him before the 2022 season.