There seems to be no end to the supply of guys who want to try out for the Eagles in 2018. It makes sense to bring in the tryout guys, I suppose, but at what point are you sending a message to your existing roster guys and developmental guys that their prior contributions to the team concept just don’t matter that much?
On the surface of the most recent news—the Philadelphia Eagles have signed running back Matt Jones to a two-year contract and also agreed to terms on four-year deals with all five of their draft picks.
Jones was a third-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2015. He had 950 yards rushing and six touchdowns while averaging 3.9 yards per carry in two seasons with the Redskins. He played for the Colts in 2017 and only carried five times. After Indianapolis selected two running backs in the draft, Jones was cut on May 1.
Jones will get a chance to earn a roster spot with the Super Bowl champions in a crowded backfield that includes Jay Ajayi, veteran Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. Gee, I guess Wendell Smallwood and Donnell Pumphrey are just thrilled by that news…
The rookies agreeing to deals were: tight end Dallas Goedert, cornerback Avonte Maddox, defensive end Josh Sweat and offensive linemen Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata. No holdouts in this new era of CBA-mandated rookie contracts…
Meanwhile, former Ravens defensive end Courtney Upshaw, per ESPN’s Field Yates, visited with the Eagles on Tuesday. Upshaw spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles also hosted Ravens running back Terrance West for a visit to the team’s NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, too.
Both West and Upshaw are free agents and would make sense as late off-season additions for the Eagles, especially Upshaw. The Matt Jones signing probably rules out Terrance West, however.
Here’s the Joe Douglas (V.P. of Eagles Personnel) connection to the former Ravens and Redskins players which makes sense as to why guys from outside the Eagles’ developmental sphere are getting a shot.
Douglas spent 15 years with the Ravens. He has friends and associates within the Redskins organization, too. You tend to gravitate to available players whom you think you already know well.
Upshaw was drafted by the Ravens in the second-round out of Alabama in 2012, and spent the bulk of his Baltimore career as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. In four years with the Ravens, he started 51 games and didn’t exactly dominate — he had 193 tackles, five sacks, three forced fumbles and seven pass deflections.
With the Falcons the last two season, Upshaw — listed at 6-2, 273 pounds — spent a significant portion of his snaps playing defensive tackle, which is why the visit with the Eagles makes sense. Upshaw likely wouldn’t cost much and could become a decent option in the Eagles’ inexperienced defensive tackle rotation behind Fletcher Cox and free agent signee Haloti Ngata…especially since Timmy Jernigan is likely out for the first half of the season due to recovery from herniated disc surgery.
As for Terrance West, he probably failed the audition. Matt Jones is probably the stronger multi-dimensional running back. West came up through the mean streets of Baltimore and starred at Towson University, one of those mid-major schools which give no-chance kids a chance. The young man used to take two MTA transfer buses from his broken home in the ghetto to get to his college classes and football practice on time. But somewhere along the line, West got the reputation of being a slacker. I don’t know how that happens, but it did. Maybe after hustling your entire childhood, you get to a false sense of security after making the NFL…The raw ability is still there, but the reputation of sleeping in and being late to meetings is a killer.
It probably doesn’t matter anyway, because I think undrafted free agent Josh Adams is going to make this team at running back.
Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com puts in his back-handed recommendation for Matt Jones:
“Here are five things you need to know about Jones and the Eagles’ decision to sign him:
1. At 6-foot-2, 239 pounds, Jones could be the power back the Eagles lost when LeGarrette Blount signed with the Detroit Lions. Jones does have an issue with holding onto the ball, however, as he had eight fumbles in his first two seasons.
2. Jones career has been on the downswing since a promising rookie year with the Washington Redskins. As a rookie in 2015, Jones ran the ball 144 times for 490 yards and three touchdowns. In his last two seasons, however, Jones has not topped either the 490 yards or three touchdowns he got as a rookie. He was a complete non-factor with the Indianapolis Colts.
3. Jones has shown the ability to make plays out of the backfield as a receiver. As a rookie he caught 19 passes for 304 yards, an average of 16 yards-per-reception.
4. The Eagles now have a loaded backfield. In addition to Jones, the Eagles have Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey on the roster. They have also reportedly signed undrafted free agent Josh Adams, but that signing has not yet been announced by the team.
5. Jones is far from a lock to make the roster, but the Eagles bringing him in does not seem to speak highly of what they expect from Smallwood or Pumphrey this season. ”
I guess the only conclusion to draw here is roster-building in Philly and across the NFL is more fluid than ever. Nobody is married to one team or one organization anymore. If say you or I had just spent two years on the Eagles’ practice squad, and they bring in two or three guys at the same position from other teams, we would probably start doubting our career choices.