The Eagles have made a habit this season of parting ways with players who had significant roles in the coaching staff’s game plans in the weeks prior.
Six players this season have been asked to clean out their locker despite playing a large chunk of snaps for the team when healthy. Mack Hollins became the latest to say goodbye earlier this week, when the Eagles waived the 26-year-old wide receiver after seeing his playing time reduced in the last two games.
Hollins, who was claimed by the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday, played 396 offensive snaps for the Eagles this season and 57 special teams plays. Andrew Sendejo, Zach Brown, Jordan Matthews, Orlando Scandrick, Akeem Spence, and now Hollins have all been let go despite being an active part of the team beforehand. Spence was picked up by the Dolphins, and Sendejo reunited with the Minnesota Vikings, but Matthews, Scandrick, and Brown aren’t currently with an NFL team.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he and front office executive Howie Roseman talked about the decision to cut Hollins, and were in agreement, refuting the notion that there’s a disconnect between what the team’s coaching staff wants and what the front office decides.
“There’s not a decision that is made with this roster that Howie and I don’t discuss first, obviously,” Pederson said. “Whether it’s practice squad, whether it’s active roster, to bring a guy in for a workout, or whatever it might be.”
Pederson said the decision to move on from Hollins, the team’s fourth-round draft pick in 2017, was a “tough” one, but the potential of rookie wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and recent practice squad call-up Greg Ward played into the team’s decision.
“We also feel like some of our younger players, J.J., Greg, have earned, or at least deserved an opportunity,” Pederson said. “Again, you gotta make some tough decisions, but it’s because of some discussions that we’e had here in the past few weeks.”
The team added Scandrick and Spence to help weather the injury storm that hit both the defensive tackle position and the secondary earlier this season. Brown and Sendejo were both free agency signings. Brown was cut in October after the linebacker criticized Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins right before Cousins gashed the Eagles’ secondary in a 38-20 blowout loss in Week 6. Brown played 81% of the team’s defensive snaps against the Vikings, but was unemployed the next day.
“Obviously, we’re based on performance,” Pederson said when asked about the reasons Brown was cut. “I’m not going to get into a lot of the whys as to why we did it, but we need more production there, and so we made a change.”
Sendejo was waived during the team’s bye week, which improved the Eagles’ compensatory-draft-pick stash since the safety counted against the NFL’s comp pick formula in free agency last summer. He played 25% of the team’s defensive snaps against the Bears the week prior. He was claimed by his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Eagles picked up Marcus Epps, who the Vikings waived to make room for Sendejo.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said the turnover toward the bottom of the roster isn’t surprising to the players given the team’s record.
“It’s pretty normal for there to be a lot of turnaround, especially when you’re not winning,” Jenkins said Thursday. “That’s to be expected so, it’s not something that we really even think much about.”
Pederson added: “Players know what type of business that we’re in. Again, if I stand in front of the team and keep constantly saying, ‘We’re gonna make decisions that are in the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles,’ and the players that are in the room, then we move on from it. We understand sometimes tough decisions have to be made.”
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said the same business-like turnover the Eagles’ front office has this year should be a motivating factor for players heading into the final four games of the season.
“You gotta understand this game,” Johnson said. “If you get some losses right here, you know people are going to be coming and going. That should be a big message for everybody.”