PHILADELPHIA − On the surface, it would seem pretty easy to figure out the four running backs who will make the Eagles’ 53-man roster.
There’s D’Andre Swift, whom the Eagles traded for during draft weekend. There’s Rashaad Penny, a former first-round pick, signed as a free agent. And there are returnees Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell.
All of them have an NFL track record to some extent, whether it’s Swift and Penny who have produced when they have been healthy. Gainwell was the Eagles’ fifth-round pick in 2021, who saw his workload, both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield, increase late last season and throughout the playoffs.
Scott, meanwhile, has made his career out of tormenting the Giants, whom the Eagles play twice, not to mention defying the odds by sticking on the roster for the past five seasons.
“We have a really deep room there,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about the running backs. “You’re excited about the competition that we’re going to have there.”
Scott, the Eagles’ longest-tenured running back, might have to defy those odds again, especially after Sirianni has gone out of his way to praise Trey Sermon whenever he’s been asked about the running back room as a whole. And Scott could have his role diminished as a kick returner with the new rule enabling the ball to be placed at the 25-yard line on fair catches inside the 25.
If Sermon makes the roster, it most likely means that either Scott or Penny won’t. Penny hasn’t played more than 10 games in a season since his rookie year in 2017, and he only played in five games for Seattle last season after breaking his leg.
“It’s definitely been a cool journey, man,” Scott said. “Like, just yesterday I feel like I was asking (Darren) Sproles and seeking out wisdom from him. And now just try and be available to the guys in any way I can. I’ll let them know upfront there’s no animosity.”
Scott, of course, has 10 career TDs in 8 career regular-season games against the Giants. He has 7 TDs in 52 games against everyone else.
No wonder why Scott responded with a laugh when asked recently if the Giants pursued him in free agency: “I can’t talk about that.”
It’s unlikely that the Eagles will keep all five running backs considering needs at other positions. Sermon was a third-round pick of the 49ers in 2021 and released last August after one season. The Eagles picked him up and he was mostly inactive on game days last season.
The Eagles are also excited about Gainwell, who had his three best rushing games of last season in the regular-season finale and the first two playoff games. He had a career-high 112 yards in the Divisional Round win over the Giants.
“I’m expecting a very high role,” Gainwell said. “I’m just gonna continue to improve my game on top of everything that I have done.”
All of this will play out during training camp. For the Eagles, that begins with the first practice on July 26.
In addition to Scott and Penny, here are 5 other veterans who could be in jeopardy of losing a job:
Barnett never panned out as a first-round pick in 2017, and he’s coming off a torn ACL. There’s no word on if Barnett will be ready for training camp. But he’s in the final year of a two-year extension, and the Eagles can cut him with a post-June 1st designation and thus only have a $3 million dead money hit. The Eagles are deep at edge rusher after drafting Nolan Smith at the end of the first round, in addition to returning Haason Reddick (16 sacks), Brandon Graham (11) and Josh Sweat (11).
Williams was signed as a relatively low-cost free agent who has been a reserve after missing the 2020 season with a shoulder injury. Williams was originally a second-round pick of the Browns. But the Eagles are deep at cornerback with both Darius Slay and James Bradberry back, along with 2022 returnee Josh Jobe, and Kelee Ringo drafted in the fourth round, along with undrafted free agents Mekhi Garner and Eli Ricks. Williams will have to make an impression in order to stay.
Morrow was signed as a low-cost replacement for Kyzir White. But typically, those players have been hit or miss for the Eagles. Sure, White played well last season. Before him, the Eagles signed Eric Wilson, who was released midway through the 2021 season. Morrow started all 17 games and had 116 tackles for the Bears last season. So he would have the inside track to start next to Nakobe Dean. Then again, Christian Elliss had 2 interceptions in the two OTA practices open to the media. Shaun Bradley, Kyron Johnson and Davion Taylor, all strong special teams players, are also among the returnees.
Street had a career-high 3.5 sacks last season with the Saints. But he’s coming into a loaded position for the Eagles with Fletcher Cox, first-round pick Jalen Carter, 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis, and 2021 third-round pick Milton Williams. The Eagles also have seventh-round pick Moro Ojomo, along with Marlon Tuipulotu, who’s working his way back from a torn ACL. So Street, another low-cost free agent signing, doesn’t have a spot locked up.
The Eagles aren’t particularly deep at safety, so a veteran free agent like Evans could serve them well. But it would seem like Terrell Edmunds is locked in as one starter, with either Reed Blankenship or third-round pick Sydney Brown as the other. That would leave Evans to compete with the loser of that competition for the third safety role. Plus, the Eagles have K’Von Wallace, who’s a special teams ace. And they can move Avonte Maddox to safety, too, in a pinch.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: 7 Eagles veterans in jeopardy of losing jobs, including 2 running backs