4 young Eagles with much to gain after Kevin Byard's release

Here's a look at a unique quartet of Eagles.

Kevin Byard, Philadelphia Eagles
Kevin Byard, Philadelphia Eagles / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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The news of his arrival this past October came quickly. The news of his departure traveled just as fast, if not more so. The winds of change have blown through the ever-supportive lands we call Philadelphia Eagles fandom and the always-sharp Philly media. The headline was expected. Kevin Byard is no longer a member of the roster.

The decision is a wise one. Philly saves more than $14 million in cap space by parting ways with him, and though we know many of his former teammates wish him well, we also know they understand the nomadic nature of pro football.

What can we say? This is a business, and this allows some young Eagles to handle theirs. Call it the 'next man up' theory or whatever you will. The spotlight shifts to the youngsters.

Here are four Eagles that stand to benefit from Kevin Byard's release.

Free agency approaches, and the Eagles have a lot of decisions to make about their roster. Don't blink. Things are going to move quickly.

The secondary will be a huge talking point. Several Eagles will benefit by Kevin Byard's release. Can they step up and prove they need to be a part of this team's plans for its future?

1. Tristin McCollum

Tristin McCollum, Philadelphia Eagles
Tristin McCollum, Philadelphia Eagles / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Kevin Byard is gone now. Sydney Brown probably won't be physically ready to play once the next regular season starts. That opens the door for Tristin McCollum.

This former undrafted rookie free agent (2022) played 29 defensive snaps and another 59 on special teams during three games this past season, and he might be in line for more playing time in 2024.

2. Mekhi Garner

The world was Mekhi Garner's oyster once the preseason began last summer. All he had to do was take the job that appeared to be opening up for him. sadly, he didn't.

He'll again have a tough hill to climb if he wants to climb onto Philly's 2024 53-man roster. The odds are against him, but if this young corner can prove he understands the nuances of versatility, Byard's exit may open a window, even if said window is a small one.

3. Avonte Maddox

Avonte Maddox, Philadelphia Eagles
Avonte Maddox, Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

He has successfully defied the odds. Avonte Maddox, a fourth-round draftee by the Eagles in 2018, has already played his rookie deal out. He also appears set to play out his extension. Trust us on this one. That isn't common in the NFL.

Here's the thing about Avonte. He's now in the final year of the extension he signed on November 20, 2021. Had he proven durable, he might be in line for another. We all know that isn't the case.

He's due $9.6 million in 2024 and represents $7.7 million in dead cap space. Might he be in line for a contract restructure? Under normal circumstances, we'd say no, but because of Byard's exit, anything is possible.

We know Howie gets attached to guys.

4. Reed Blankenship

Time flies in the NFL. Reed Blankenship's spot on the 2024 Eagles roster seems certain, but nothing is ever promised in the NFL, especially when discussing former undrafted free agents.

Reed's three-year, $2.5 million deal is now in its final stanza, making him a free agent to be in 2025.

Byard planned to land in Philly and earn an extension. That obviously won't happen, but that now opens a tiny door and window for Reed to earn his,

Can the former First-team All-Conference USA star plant his flag? He's a fan favorite. We'll soon see what the Eagles think of him.

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