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NFL roster cuts 2021: 5 big surprises in Eagles' initial 53-man squad

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles
ANALYST

The Philadelphia Eagles finally closed their 53-man roster for Week 1 of the 2021 season.

With a new coaching staff in place and one of the youngest rosters in the league, there were a lot of open roster spots up for grabs during training camp. For that reason, to see some veteran players keep their places on the roster was really surprising, and even other players who had productive stints in the NFL couldn't survive the cut.

On that note, let's check out the 5 biggest surprises in the Eagles' 53-man roster.

#1 - Travis Fulgham cut

Travis Fulgham had a four-week stint where he led the NFL in receiving yards last season, but he never managed to keep playing at a high level for the remainder of the season.

He had a disappointing training camp, and other receivers like Quez Watkins and J. J. Arcega-Whiteside surpassed him on the Eagles' depth chart with good practices. Fulgham was cut and signed to the practice squad.

#2 - Le'Raven Clark cut

Clark put together a string of good practices and his veteran status had him as a possible option for swing tackle.

But the Eagles decided to go young at tackle depth, instead keeping Brett Toth and not risking losing Andre Dillard for free in case another team had put a waiver claim on him. Clark was signed to the practice squad, but it's difficult to envision a scenario where he stays there for long.

#3 - Zach Ertz not traded

The whole Eagles' offseason was marked by articles about Zach Ertz on the verge of being traded, but a deal never materialized and the veteran tight end will stay in Philadelphia for 2021.

At the end of last season, Ertz gave an emotional interview where he bid farewell to Philadelphia, where he's been playing since he was drafted. But after the 53-man roster was confirmed, Ertz went to the podium for the first time since January to say that apologies have been said and relationships have been mended, so he's staying with the Eagles.

#4 - J. J. Arcega-Whiteside not cut

Can you mention anything important that Arcega-Whiteside has done in the NFL since he was drafted before DK Metcalf in 2019? Me neither.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles

But the receiver had a great training camp and made some plays in the preseason, and his athleticism and ability to make contested catches were a plus for the Eagles' coaching staff. He was looking at a roster spot from the outside when camp started, but his good practices helped him surpass Fulgham on the depth chart and he was kept on the 53-man roster.

#5 - Andre Dillard not traded

Andre Dillard is returning from a major injury and his place as a starter left tackle now belongs to Jordan Mailata.

It's clear that the Eagles don't trust Dillard anymore and the best thing for both parties would be for the player to get a fresh start. However, Dillard is a former first-round pick, and he has interesting trade value for the franchise. Lots of teams could find value by trading for him, and it was surprising to see a deal wasn't struck.


Edited by Prem Deshpande
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