The Eagles decided to stay with three quarterbacks — Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Trent Edwards — and cut ties with Mike Kafka, a 2010 draft pick, in the most shocking move of the roster cuts.
At the beginning of the offseason, Mike Kafka was penciled in as the second quarterback.
But, after strong preseason performances by Nick Foles and Trent Edwards, combined with Kafka’s broken non-throwing hand, Edwards and Foles were able to push him from the spot.
At the start of training camp, Kafka was the No. 2 quarterback, but, after missing the last three games of the preseason, Kafka was helpless to do anything in rebuttal as Foles and Edwards thrived.
Kafka's arm strength and general awareness of the game were always the key issues for him, so, when Foles emerged with a rocket arm and a matured awareness of the field, Kafka lost his clout, and a position battle between Edwards and Kafka became the talking point.
Then, when Edwards stepped in and put together some solid performances; Kafka became dispensable.
Now, it will be interesting to see whether they use Foles or Edwards from the onset if Vick gets injured. Preceding the Jets game, Reid said Foles will be his second-string quarterback, so they will probably use Edwards as the veteran presence backing up Foles, at first.
Cutting Kafka, however, means they will head into the regular season with two quarterbacks entering their first year with the team, and the overall knowledge of the playbook could be an issue for both quarterbacks.
Nonetheless, the Eagles have added by subtraction. Kafka never truly looked comfortable or poised in the pocket, and he failed to shine last season when relieving Vick in the second and third games of the regular season.
The other available option was cutting Edwards with the hope that he would remain unsigned in the 2012 season (as he had in the 2011 season); however, they liked what Edwards brought to the table.
Kafka’s value on the market is questionable, so how long he will remain unsigned is difficult to gauge.
The team also cut slot cornerback Joselio Hanson, a move they also made during last year’s roster purge. Last season, however, they re-signed him four days later. Will they repeat their decision?
Brandon Boykin, a 2012 draft pick, was able to secure his spot on the roster through special teams after acquiring the rights to return kickoffs. Will he be as prolific as a slot cornerback?
Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were moved into the slot intermittently last season, and the moves had mixed results. Will Hanson be around if the Eagles were interested in re-signing him?
The Eagles also have Brandon Hughes, Curtis Marsh, and Trevard Lindley, but why they kept so many cornerbacks when they could have held onto a couple prospects at a safety, linebacker, or varied offensive position is a viable question.
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt’s release was an intriguing subtraction because, in the process of releasing McNutt, the Eagles cut ties with a sixth-round draft pick in this year’s Draft. McNutt had ample time to show his abilities after Riley Cooper broke his collarbone early in training camp, but he could not secure a spot on the roster.
McNutt was the first person the Eagles eyed when trying to fill in for Cooper because Mcnutt’s frame, 6-3, 214 pounds, is similar to Cooper, who is 6-3 222 pounds. However, the position battle for the fifth wide receiver position ultimately came down to special teams after undrafted wideout Damaris Johnson was able to earn the role of punt returner.
The Eagles rarely use their fourth-string wide receiver, though, so the fifth spot could be used even less. Last season, Cooper, playing as the fourth wide receiver, was not targeted until the Week 10 contest against the New York Giants, and he finished the season with 16 receptions for 315 yards and one touchdown.
His size was supposed to help the Eagles in the red zone, but Eagles’ quarterbacks targeted him just four times inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Will Cooper make his mark in the red zone this year?
Johnson, a 5--8, 170-pound speed receiver from Tulsa has a unique quickness and deep-threat ability reminiscent of DeSean Jackson, but will he be able to come up big in the end zone? He had a standout preseason.
The Eagles also cut ties with Oshiomogho Atogwe, an offseason free-agent acquisition from the Washington Redskins. With the subtraction of Atogwe, then, the safety position, which was already the thinnest spot on the Eagles’ defense, has become further thinned.
Atogwe’s release mainly stems from the fact that he got injured in the final preseason game and hamstring injuries have limited his ability to play in the first three preseason games.
The team retained Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had a good performance in the Eagles’ final game of the preseason, despite an otherwise lackluster summer.
However, behind him, the Eagles have only Colt Anderson, who is rehabbing from a knee injury, and David Sims, a new acquisition, after releasing Phillip Thomas. Sims entered the league as an undrafted rookie with the New York Giants in 2011, but he was eventually cut by the team.
Then, he spent one week on the Buccaneers’ roster in November before being cut. So, as he has no experience playing in an NFL game, his acquisition does little initially to shore up the secondary.
If either Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman suffers a major injury during the season, the Eagles could be in trouble.
Chas Henry’s winning the punting job from Mat McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowl punter with the Dallas Cowboys, is an intriguing move. As Henry received all of the punts in Thursday night’s preseason contest against the New York Jets, the subtraction was predictable.
McBriar had offseason surgery to repair a nerve, so his health played a part in the decision, but Henry’s punting statistics last season were underwhelming. Improvement will be needed in the future.
Linebacker Keenan Clayton, a 2010 draft pick for the Eagles, never really displayed the acumen required of an elite linebacker in the league, and, as a result, he was cut from the team. Chad Hall, another 2010 addition to the team, was the odd man out after Damaris Johnson displayed his talent.
Hall, though, was a long-shot to make the team from the onset of training camp, and his eventual subtraction was clearly written on the wall even before the 9 p.m. deadline Friday night.
Antonio Dixon, a 2009 addition to the team, never really became the breakout player the Eagles were hoping for, and, as they have a deep pool of defensive linemen, he no longer fit with the team.
Tight end Brett Brackett was given the opportunity to display his skills this summer after Brent Celek sprained his knee, but, despite looking sharp in training camp, the team decided to stick with Celek and Clay Harbor as the two tight ends.
Celek had two surgeries in the offseason, so, even though he is ready to start on September 9th, his health is a key concern for the Eagles as they head forward.
Aside from the aforementioned players, the rest of the cuts were predictable, including DT Landon Cohen, TE Chase Ford, WR Mardy Gilyard, FB Emil Igwenagu, T D.J. Jones, LB Adrian Moten, DT Ollie Ogbu, LB Ryan Rau, DE Monte Taylor, DT Frank Trotter, OL Steve Vallos, OL Brandon Washington, and G Julian Vandervelde, who was initially kept but ultimately cut in the acquisition of David Sims.
Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Trent Edwards
Wide Receivers (5)
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson
Running backs (4)
LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk
Tight End (2)
Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.
Offensive Line (8)
King Dunlap (tackle), Demetress Bell (tackle), Todd Herremans (tackle), Dennis Kelly (tackle), Evan Mathis (guard), Danny Watkins (guard), Jason Kelce (center), Dallas Reynolds (guard/center)
Defensive line (10)
Jason Babin (DE), Trent Cole (DE), Vinny Curry (DE), Brandon Graham (DE), Phillip Hunt (DE), Darryl Tapp (DE), Cullen Jenkins (DT), Derek Landri (DT), Fletcher Cox (DT), Cedric Thorton (DT)
DeMeco Ryans, Jamar Chaney, Akeem Jordan, Mychal Kendricks, Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle
Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley, Curtis Marsh
Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, Jaiquawn Jarrett, David Sims
Special Teams (3)
Jon Dorenbos (long snapper), Alex Henery (kicker), Chas Henry (punter)
Injured Reserve (does not count towards 53-man roster):
Mike Patterson, Jason Peters, and Ronald Johnson