Who Makes The Cut: Safety
The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. During the next two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers will try our best to predict who stays and who goes. The NFL deadline for teams to trim rosters from 90 to 80 is Aug. 27. Final cuts are due by Aug. 31. Here's the lineup:
Wed, Aug. 15: Offensive line
Thur., Aug. 16: Defensive tackles
Fri., Aug. 17: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 20: Running backs
Tues., Aug. 21: Wide receivers / tight ends
Wed., Aug. 22: Linebackers
Thur., Aug. 23: Safeties
Fri., Aug. 24: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 27: Defensive ends
LIKELY TO KEEP: 4.
WHO STAYS: Nate Allen, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
WHO GOES: Wade Bonner, Tom Nelson, Phillip Thomas.
PUP: Colt Anderson.
Before I get to Jarrett – the big question mark at this position – let's take a quick gander at the starters. Allen and Coleman are entering their third seasons, and while neither has established himself as a consistent playmaker in the NFL, both are locks at this point to open the season with the first team defense. That tells you a little about the depth the Eagles have at safety and why Jarrett may actually make the 53-man roster -- believe it or not.
The Eagles signed Atogwe in June after Jarrett showed very little during OTAs to suggest that he had made some quantum leap after an unproductive rookie season. A veteran of seven seasons in the NFL, Atogwe was about as good as Howie Roseman could get at the time, but there were a few opportunities to acquire greater talent when free agency opened three months earlier. The Eagles had significant issues on defense at two positions – linebacker and safety. They made a strong effort to upgrade at linebacker in the offseason, trading for DeMeco Ryans and drafting Mychal Kendricks in the second round. Roseman and Andy Reid did virtually nothing at safety and simply responded to queries with a "We like our young safeties" response.
Allen was inconsistent last year, but his knee wasn't 100 percent recovered for most of the season. He has no excuses this season. He's healthy. He's a second-round pick. He needs to play at a high level. Coleman was benched at one point because of tackling issues, but Jarrad Page was so bad that Coleman got another shot. He's a heady player, but a liability if he has to go one-on-one with a receiver.
Jarrett, if it's possible, has looked worse this preseason than last. I don't think he'll ever start in the NFL, which would qualify as a major disappointment for a second-round pick. It's not his fault the Eagles took him so high, but that's the breaks. If the Eagles had a better alternative or if Colt Anderson (torn ACL) was healthy by the start of the season, I don't think Jarrett would make the roster. But Anderson looks destined to open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List and the other options aren't that great. Atogwe has been injured much of the preseason. He missed several games last season due to injury. I'm not sure how well he's playing at this point. But he appears to have a spot on the roster as the third safety, apparently based mostly on his experience. Nelson was splitting second-team reps with Jarrett a week ago, but he injured his ankle and probably won't play Friday at Cleveland.
So that leaves Jarrett on the 53-man roster – at least for the time being. I could easily see the Eagles scouring the waiver wire after cut-down day, or Roseman pulling off a trade to upgrade at the position. But until then Jarrett stays.