5 Philadelphia Eagles Veterans That Could Be Cut
Five Philadelphia Eagles Veterans That Could Be Cut
It's no secret that there is a new regime and new business as usual with Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles.
Even after just one month of Organized Team Activities and one week of mandatory minicamp, there is certainly a new energy and vibe around the Novacare Complex and this team. As is the case with any new regime, there certainly is little loyalty to veteran holdovers from the previous era, even those that had become part of the fabric of the locker room.
That appears to be especially true with Kelly.First and foremost, versatility is crucial in Kelly's offense and players unable to master multiple positions may be in danger when the turk strolls through the team hotel during training camp in Philadelphia this summer.
We have already seen the tight end position be put at a premium, and there is little doubt that Kelly will keep four in his offense. On defense, one of the under-the-radar position battles is at the safety position after the team signed a pair in free agency and selected Earl Wolff in the draft to pair with incumbents Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. Then there's the ever intriguing position battle that has dominated the talk radio airwaves and focus in the City of Brotherly Love since the team elected to restructure Michael Vick's contract.
Likewise, the free agent signings and Kelly's first draft class give a glimpse of the first-year head coach's philosophy and could make popular veterans expendable.
With that in mind, here is a glimpse at five veterans who could be looking for a job by the time the regular season rolls around.
While all eyes have been on the Eagles offense, and the quarterback position battle specifically, the defense has been undergoing the early stages of a face lift.
It's expected that Bill Davis Jr.'s troops will run a hybrid 4-3 under or 3-4 front, quite the change for a defense that has run a 4-3 alignment for two decades.
No player on the defensive side of the ball will face more scrutiny than nine-year veteran Trent Cole.
For the first time in his career, Cole will frequently be used as a pass rushing outside linebacker and be forced to alternate between putting his hand on the ground as a defensve end and roaming as a linebacker both pass rushing and in coverage.
That could be asking a lot of a 30-year-old veteran who already has shown signs of slowing down in the second half of seasons and finished 2012 with just three sacks.
Few first round drat choices by the Eagles have faced more scrutiny than Danny Watkins has since being made the 23rd overall choice in 2011 out of Baylor.
Watkins' has never lived up to the expectations of being a first-round draft choice and clashed with former offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Last season, Watkins was benched for four games after a very inconsistent rookie campaign.
Throw in the fact that this past April general manager Howie Roseman and Kelly pulled the trigger on selecting offensive tackle Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma with the fourth overall pick, which would allow Todd Herremans to slide back to his natural position of offensive tackle, effectively bouncing Watkins from the starting lineup and all signs point to the British Columbian native facing an uphill battle to remain with the team that drafted him.
A pillar of the Andy Reid regime in Philadelphia, Brent Celek may not have that standing or even the luxury of a roster spot under Chip Kelly.
The seven-year veteran has been one of the more consistent and steadier contributors to the success of the last four-five seasons in Philadelphia. In his career, Celek has amassed 280 catches for 3,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, injuries are beginning to take their tole, including a concussion last season that cost the Cincinnati product just one game.
After signing James Casey as a free agent from the Houston Texans, drafting Zach Ertz in the second round of April's draft along with signing Will Shaw out of Youngstown as an undrafted free agent, the tight end position has become quite crowded in Philadelphia.
While it would shock nobody to see Kelly carry four tight ends, as his affinity for utilizing pass catchers all over the field has been on display since his days at the University of New Hampshire, one has to wonder if Celek is at risk of being cut.
During minicamp, even with Casey sidelined after undergoing knee surgery last month, Shaw seemed to cut into Celek's practice reps. Other veteran players have become uneasy over Kelly's unorthodox ways, and perhaps Celek could be one such player to feel the brunt of a new coach wiping the slate clean from the previous regime.
It may be surprising to find Kenny Phillips, signed by the Eagles as a free agent this offseason on a list of veterans that could be cut, but the 26-year-old must prove he can stay healthy above all else.
The former New York Giant signed with the Eagles in March, but the team protected itself and it's investment by not guaranteeing any of the veteran's money, making him expendable should his ailing knees continue to be a problem. Phillips had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009. But this spring, Phillips has already had complications related to his previous cartilage issues that would be much worse than the problems he had with the MCL in his right knee last season, with the New York Giants
Phillips missed practice time during OTA's and after signing Patrick Chung, drafting Earl Wolff and already with Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen on the roster, Phillips' place on this team is anything but guaranteed.
Many assumed that when the Philadelphia Eagles restructured Michael Vick's contract it was to keep him in the fold to see what he is capable of under Kelly's watch.
However, in actuality, Vick took an $8.5 million pay cut when he signed on the dotted line with the Eagles on his new deal and is guaranteed only $3.5 million from his previous deal and another $3.5 if he is on the roster for the season opener on Sept. 9.
Kelly made it clear from day one that it would be an open competition for the starting quarterback job, with the primary figures being Vick and second-year signal caller Nick Foles, and that's before the team chose USC product Matt Barkley in the fourth round of April's draft. Thus far, the practice reps have been even, and on some days Foles has garnered more time under center in Kelly's uptempo and fast paced practices. By all accounts, Vick is the more athletic option, but with Foles' quick delivery, superior accuracy and ball security, he has looked more than capable of succeeding in Kelly's offense.
By the end of the team's minicamp, Vick had seen enough and sounded off about his frustration with the position battle.
"It's tough," Vick told reporters after practice last week. "I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side, and just continue to compete. But it's hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn't. But that's just what I have to deal with, and I'm going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise."
Given the fact that Vick has only finished a full 16 game season and completed 60 percent of his passes once in his career, and thrown for over 3,000 yards only twice, combined with his frustrations already showing, it could be an early exit for No. 7.
It's hard to imagine Vick settling for being a backup if he loses the battle for the starting job, and even less likely that the Eagles would swallow paying a backup $7 million this season. With all of that taken into account, it isn't difficult to envision a scenario where Vick is not a member of this team by the time the regular season rolls around.