T.J. Edwards has had a nice showing during the preseason. It’s earned him a top-ten ranking from PFF, but unfortunately, that may not help him make the Eagles final roster.
If you polled some of the great minds who cover the Philadelphia Eagles, you’d be hard-pressed to find a ton of complaints about what the franchise has gotten out of T.J. Edwards. For a guy that went undrafted, he’s been about as good, and sometimes better, than any of the other rookies who have been on the field.
There’s just one problem. This was a team that was just about set at the linebacker position before he even stepped foot on an Eagles practice field.
With Jordan Hicks‘ exit, Nigel Bradham is, now, without question the team’s best linebacker. On March 9th of 2016, Philly signed him to a two-year, $7 million contract with $4.5 million guaranteed. That included a signing bonus of $1.5 million. That was extended to a five-year, $40 million deal that included $14 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $5 million on March 14th of 2018.
Kamu Grugier-Hill has been here since 2016, and with each passing season, he’s become more of a fixture in the Eagles’ defensive plans. He was never going anywhere either. Neither was L.J. Fort. The Eagles gave him a three-year, $5.5 million deal on March 14th. That leaves Zach Brown, who the Eagles added on May 3rd via a one-year deal.
Edwards wasn’t even signed until May 9th. That means he had to beat out the likes of Paul Worrilow, Alex Singleton, and Nathan Gerry to have any shot of making the roster. Worrilow got hurt and was eventually released. That opened the door for Edwards slightly, but the Eagles signed Chris Worley recently to fill the void left by Worrilow. Still, all signs seem to reveal the fact that Philly wants to continue to develop Gerry.
That gives them their top five linebackers on their depth chart (Bradham, Brown, Grugier-Hill, Fort, and Gerry). It seems unfair, but the only shot Edwards probably had to make the Eagles roster was for the Eagles to carry six linebackers into the regular season (something they probably won’t do). The only other option that would open the door would be for something catastrophic to happen as far as injuries.
With one game remaining, Edwards has his work cut out for him even if he is one of the top ten linebackers on a pretty noticeable list, one where Pro Football Focus gave us their top 25 highest-ranked rookies of 2019’s preseason. Edwards came in at ten. He got an overall rating of 84.6, and here’s some of what Anthony Treash, the writer of this one, had to say.
"Former Wisconsin Badger T.J. Edwards has been astounding against the run and in coverage for the Eagles. Four of his run tackles have been for a loss or no gain, and in total, Edwards has eight defensive stops. A 78.0 run-defense grade and 79.8 coverage grade should make Philadelphia excited about Edwards as a prospect."
As of now, Bradham and Grugier-Hill have a ways to go before they’re cleared to be on the playing field. That tells us something. Edwards’ main competition is steadily-improving Alex Singleton. These two may be in a battle to see who makes this unit as a member of the team’s practice squad. It appears the ‘numbers game’ strikes again.