The Eagles' third quarterback competition did not have a winner. Tim Tebow was among 22 players the Eagles waived on Saturday to reduce the roster to 52 players. Coach Chip Kelly left one spot open, which could go to a quarterback on the waiver wire.
Tebow outperformed Matt Barkley in the preseason finale and appeared in line to earn a roster spot after the team traded Barkley to Arizona on Friday night. But Tebow's body of work did not impress Kelly enough to keep him in Philadelphia.
"I think Tim has really progressed, but we didn't feel like he was good enough to be the three right now," Kelly said Saturday.
Kelly said he wants three quarterbacks on the team. The Eagles will sign one quarterback for the active roster or the practice squad in the coming days. That player will not have a summer spent in the offense, but he will be "the most productive guy out there that fits for us."
That player is not Tebow, who had been out of the NFL the last two seasons. Kelly gave him a chance this offseason, and Tebow showed improvement but was still inconsistent.
"I think he really improved his throwing motion from when he was throwing a couple of years ago," Kelly said. "He worked extremely hard on it and deserves a lot of credit for that. . . . I think he just needs to get more playing time; he needs to get out there and get actual reps because I think he has done a ton on his own from an individual basis, but it's about playing the game."
Kelly said the Eagles took Thursday's performance into account, but that was not a "make-or-break game."
When speaking with Tebow on Saturday, Kelly suggested that Tebow play in the CFL to get more playing time, according to a league source. Tebow tweeted on Saturday afternoon, "Thanks Eagles and Coach Kelly for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love!"
The Eagles have had three quarterbacks on the active roster since Kelly's been the head coach. He explained that was because the team wanted Barkley and did not think he would clear waivers to reach the practice squad. When they received a trade offer for Barkley on Friday, Kelly thought it "was the best possible scenario in that situation."
If the Eagles sign a quarterback to the active roster, veterans Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Matt Flynn are among the best on the market. Each one is experienced and not a developmental player. Kelly said the Eagles are not necessarily looking for a young quarterback in the No. 3 spot.
"We want the best guy that can help us win football games right now, so if that player has to play because of injuries, then we need to be prepared to play right now," Kelly said.
The other 21 cuts included some difficult decisions. The Eagles waived running back Raheem Mostert; wide receivers Rasheed Bailey, Jeff Maehl, Freddy Martino, and Quron Pratt; offensive linemen Brett Boyko, Malcolm Bunche, and Julian Vandervelde; tight ends Andrew Gleichert and Eric Tomlinson; defensive linemen Brian Mihalik and Travis Raciti; linebackers Najee Goode, Diaheem Watkins, and Deontae Skinner; defensive backs Jaylen Watkins, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds, and Randall Evans; and punter Kip Smith.
Kelly said the last player waived was Goode, who was a contributor in 2013 and had a role on the team last season before a season-ending injury. Goode was the victim of depth at inside linebacker and could not survive the numbers crunch.
Jaylen Watkins, a 2014 fourth-round pick, did not make the team despite his draft status. The Eagles now have only two Day 3 draft picks on their active roster from Kelly's three years in Philadelphia.
Three bottom-of-the-roster players who survived the cut-down day were offensive lineman Josh Andrews, cornerback Denzel Rice, and safety Jerome Couplin.
Andrews offers guard/center versatility and developed last year on the practice squad. Rice, an undrafted rookie, impressed the coaching staff since the spring and has a "bright future." Couplin won the safety competition because of his combination of size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), tackling ability, and special teams contributions, which gave him "the best upside at that position."
With the Eagles keeping only 52 players - one below the league maximum - they will be active in the coming days filling the roster. The Eagles don't have as much depth in the secondary and on the offensive line as positions like running back and inside linebacker, so they could look to add in those spots. And they need to figure out what they'll do for a third quarterback.
"The decisions were harder [this season], but I think it will play out during the season," Kelly said. "We were comfortable with the team we have right now, and we'll see how it goes."