How Will The Eagles Deal With Excess Depth

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles certainly have some roster battles in camp and not all may be ideal with the third quarterback on the roster and much of linebacker room as some examples.

Luckily, the team does have the opposite scenario at a few positions. This is excellent news for the team, but it forces difficult decisions to be made.

While there is really no such thing as excess depth because a team can never have too much, the simple fact is that the Eagles have a few positions where there are guys deserving of a 53-man roster spot that they might not have enough spots for.

Things can change quickly in the NFL. On Sunday, I could argue that the Eagles had excess depth at tight end with Richard Rodgers back and both Josh Perkins and Will Tye looking good in the preseason games. Now, it appears that Tye and Perkins may be competing for that spot. Of course there is still some depth there, but not nearly as much.

Injuries are why it is wise for the Eagles to hang onto these players as long as possible, but the team has a rapidly decreasing amount of time to make some decisions/

Certainly the team will take who they believe are the best players and look to clear the rest through waivers and sign them to the practice squad, but the simple fact is that not all of these players will clear waivers. Some have looked so impressive that it would be a shock to see all 29 other teams pass up a chance to add them to their active roster. Then there is the issue that there still might not be space for everyone. The team couldn’t, for example, devote three of the 10 practice squad spots to running backs even if every single one they cut cleared waivers.

This is where Howie Roseman will need to once again call upon his expertise in wheeling and dealing. The only way to ensure the team recoups some value for these pickups rather than giving them away is if Roseman can trade players to other teams before he needs to cut them (or someone else they like).

Due to the players in question being depth players, their value is not exceptionally high, but a trade could come in the form of a player-for-player trade where the Eagles acquire a linebacker or corner they’d like to start out on the 53-man roster or, perhaps more likely, the team could look to acquire some mid to late-round picks in the 2020 or 2021 draft.

Defensive Line

Perhaps the most obvious position that the Eagles will have this issue with is the defensive line.

The Eagles have three tackles and three ends locked into roster spots and almost every team that runs a 4-3 defense will keep four at each position. The Eagles appear to have had players play themselves onto the roster and forcing the team to carry at least 10 defensive lineman. If they don’t, it would actually be a huge surprise.

This is especially evident at defensive end, where the team has seen major production from both Shareef Miller and Daeshon Hall in camp and the preseason games. Josh Sweat has been impressive in camp and his teammates are all saying he’ll do big things, but we have yet to see much from him in the preseason games. Those three are competing for the fourth spot and likely fifth spot. And that’s following a big injury.

The team has already lost Joe Ostman, who appeared ready to break out in camp, for the season.

Then there is the recently acquired veteran Eli Harold, who appears to have no shot with the development of the young guys.

Maybe the team decides to keep all three of those guys and roll with six defensive ends, but that would force the team into keeping only four defensive tackles and force a decision between Hassan Ridgeway and playoff-hero Treyvon Hester, who actually blocked another kick in the preseason already. Both have looked good enough to fill a rotational role and Hester is clearly a good player to have on special teams. The team would be without at least one of those two.

Then there’s Bruce Hector and Aziz Shittu, who have looked pretty good in the preseason, but may not necessarily be ready to contribute on the active roster.

There is a chance someone like Shareef Miller suffers an “injury” and gets stashed on IR until next season, but the team could still keep five players at each position and end up parting with guys like Harold or Hector. If Howie Roseman gets any hint that another team is willing to trade draft picks for one of these guys, don’t be surprised to see any of the players behind the six locked-in moved to a team like the Cardinals or Bills that might be interested in depth on the line.

With that said, both Shittu and Hector may clear waivers and could be signed to the practice squad as an insurance policy, though undrafted rookie Kevin Wilkins could take that spot if either or both go to a different team.

Running Back

This would seem like a spot that the Eagles would be crazy not to make a trade.

Sanders, Howard, Sproles and Clement are essentially locks, leaving Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Boston Scott competing for one potential roster spot or, more likely, a spot on another roster.

Though fans might not like him for reasons unknown to me, Wendell Smallwood is a good depth back for any team. If the Eagles cut him loose, he will sign with another team, no question. If the Eagles get down to the deadline to make cuts and think they are going to move on from Smallwood, Roseman should be on the phone with teams like the Raiders, Texans or Dolphins who could use some quality depth and Smallwood would be the second or third back on the depth chart.

Boston Scott and Josh Adams could both clear waivers, so a trade of either of them is far less likely, but it still wouldn’t be a shock to see the team trade either. The guess here is that the team will hope to pass at least one of the two through waivers and sign them to the practice squad as an insurance policy.

Wide Receiver

This may be the toughest of the three positions to see a trade taking place, but the team will be cutting lose some talent no matter what they do.

Teams like the Chargers, Redskins or Giants will be looking for some quality depth, but they will likely do this on the waiver wire instead of through trades, making this perhaps the most difficult decision for the Eagles brass.

With the top four receivers locked-in, Mack Hollins, Marken Michel, Greg Ward Jr., Carlton Agudosi and Charles Johnson are competing for one, maybe two, roster spots.

The only one teams may be interested in trading for is Mack Hollins, who the Eagles are also high on.

It would seem that the team is leaning toward keeping Hollins and either Ward or Michel. The guess would be that they hope the other clears waivers and can be put on the practice squad, though that seems like a sure bet for Agudosi if the team can’t bring Ward or Michel back.

Johnson doesn’t seem to have much chance being a veteran who has had some big drops in camp and the preseason. He shouldn’t be expected back.

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