The final roster deadline expired for all NFL teams yesterday, August 31. Though most of the 53-man roster for the Philadelphia Eagles was a no-brainer, the wide receiver position turned some heads.
Five wide receivers made the cut, including second-year J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Eagles waived both Travis Fulgham and John Hightower.
THE EAGLES’ FIVE WIDE RECEIVERS
Philadelphia’s top three choices included DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins.
DeVonta Smith was the Eagles’ first-round pick out of Alabama during the 2021 NFL Draft. The former Heisman Trophy winner has made progress in training camp and made his preseason debut against the New England Patriots. He made two catches for 19 yards on five targets, but his route running, speed, and release had experts agreeing that he’ll fit well into the team.
Jalen Reagor is coming off a poor rookie season and has managed to turn things around in training camp this offseason under new head coach Nick Sirianni. During the preseason, he proved growth, catching two passes for 20 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has something to prove this season, and he may actually pull it off.
Also entering his second season with Philadelphia is Quez Watkins, the 200th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In Week 1 of preseason, Watkins showed superhuman speed with a 79-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
The trio will be one to keep an eye on all season.
The Eagles are also bringing back Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
Greg Ward is on his second stint with Philadelphia, joining the team again in 2019. In the past two seasons, he’s finished with 81 receptions, 673 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns. He will enter the 2021 season with the most career receptions in the wide receiver group.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside snatching up the remaining roster spot was a surprise, to say the least. The Eagles drafted JJAW in 2019. He finished with ten passes for 169 yards and one touchdown during his rookie season and was even less productive in 2020.
Yesterday, Nick Sirianni stated, “J.J really did a good job this year on special teams, and sometimes that’s the thing at the end of the day that is the separator of what’s happening on special teams and what he can do over there in Coach [Michael] Clay’s room.”
WIDE RECEIVER CUTS
The Eagles selection meant that Philadelphia waived two wide receivers — Travis Fulgham and John Hightower.
The biggest shocker wasn’t that J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made the roster, but that he did so over Travis Fulgham. Philadelphia claimed Fulgham off waivers in 2020, activating him on October 3. He had an impressive five-game run, becoming the first Eagles’ player to finish with 152 yards in one of the first five games. His 435 yards in those five games were also the most by any Eagles’ wide receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Fulgham finished the season with 539 total receiving yards — the most by any Eagles’ receiver last year.
General manager Howie Roseman stated, “I think the first thing is with Travis, here’s a guy who obviously had a heck of a stretch for us last year. And we looked at it that this was a new year, and this was a new beginning, and we wanted to go based on what we saw and take the whole process into play.”
Fulgham’s ultimate demise was a lack of consistency.
John Hightower also joined the Eagles last season, finishing with ten catches for 167 yards and zero touchdowns.
Neither Fulgham nor Hightower was claimed off waivers by another team. Philadelphia came to terms with both players to join the practice squad as of today.