A dozen Eagles entering make-or-break years in Philadelphia this season

The NFL stands for 'Not For Long' in many cases. Here are a dozen Eagles who need to turn the corner this season.
Nakobe Dean, Philadelphia Eagles
Nakobe Dean, Philadelphia Eagles / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welp! We won't see the Philadelphia Eagles until training camp. What will we do in the meantime? From a creative standpoint, we'll probably dig into conversations about 'the top 25 players at a particular position' or tap into theories about the schedule and tough stretches, but if you're like us, you'll be checking out a ton of what's in the NFL Films vault.

The other day, we came across that clip of Jerry Glanville telling the official that "NFL stands for 'Not For Long' when you make them calls." Who knew he was being prophetic?

Players come and go in pro football. Every team knows the dichotomy of building a team and asking guys who play the same position to compete with one another.

What are we saying? Jerry Glanville's quote, in many ways, led to this story. Careers don't last for long in pro football. Here are a dozen guys entering make-or-break seasons.

Nakobe Dean and Devin White, linebackers

Once upon a time, last year to be exact, we thought the goal was to make Nakobe Dean the signal-caller on defense. Before that, he was invited to the NFL Draft as someone we thought would be taken in Round 1.

He fell to Philly as a third-round selection and spent two stints on the injured reserve in 2023. Now, here we are. Devin White and Zack Baun appear to be the starters.

White was once one of the best players on the field in a Super Bowl. Tampa Bay gave up on him. Now he's in Philly playing on a one-year deal.

Dean has been spending most of his time running with the second team. He's signed through this season and the next. Philly drafted Jeremiah Trotter Jr. Like White, Baun is playing on a one-year deal. Don't be shocked if we're shuffling the linebacker room again next season.

James Bradberry, cornerback (whether he stays or goes)

Again, every mention of James Bradberry feels like we're kicking a good man while he's down, but June 1st came and went and the 2022 Second-Team All-Pro is still on the roster.

Truth be told, we aren't sure that he won't make the initial 53-man roster, but if he does, an already-short leash won't get any longer.

Avonte Maddox, slot corner/safety?

Avonte Maddox is injury prone. We all know that. It's a matter of 'when' he'll be injured, not 'if'. Still, if you throw out what appeared to be some slippage last season, he's pretty good when he is available.

He's gotten a lot of on-field time during the OTA and mandatory minicamp practices that have been open to the media. He has also been seen playing some safety.

There's a chance he could enjoy some hybrid responsibility and allow Philly to go light at the safety position on the 53-man roster. Still, even if that's the plan, he enters free agency next March.

This is officially a one-year audition for the rest of the NFL.

Josh Sweat, EDGE

We're back to discussing Josh Sweat again. Philly flirted with the idea of trading him but, eventually, decided to restructure his deal and hang on to him. Still, as is the case with Maddox, this is an audition. He's an unrestricted free agent in March after this season.

There's a lot to like about Sweaty, but he fell off a cliff last season. The questions are about whether that was a sign of things to come.

Matt Hennessy, offensive lineman

Matt Hennessy was added to be a depth piece on Philly's O-line, but then they added Mekhi Becton, Trevor Keegan, Dylan McMahon, and UDFA Anim Dankwah. If we had to guess, we'd assume Hennessy would make the 53-man roster if the Birds had to introduce a 53-man roster today. That isn't a guarantee though, and he isn't guaranteed anything past this season.

Kenneth Gainwell, running back

Truth be told, Nick Sirianni's coaching staff likes Kenneth Gainwell more than many of the fans do. He's better than he gets credit for being, but now he must prove himself to Kellen Moore.

Philly added Saquon Barkley by way of a three-year deal in March. They drafted Will Shipley a month later. They seemingly found a diamond in the rough in UDFA Kendall Milton.

We have seen this team move on from better players after Pro Bowl seasons (Miles Sanders and D'Andre Swift. Kenny G, you are officially on notice.

Albert Okwuegbunam Jr., C.J. Uzomah, and Grant Calcaterra (Whoever makes the cut)

The Eagles, at the time of this story's release, have six tight ends on the preseason roster. We know one can play. We aren't certain about the rest of them.

Albert Okwuegbunam Jr was signed to a one-year extension at the end of February. C.J. Uzomah was added in April. Another of the incumbents, Grant Calcaterra, has two years remaining on his rookie deal.

The theory is Philly will keep three tight ends on the 53-man roster. We won't see all of these guys making the cut, but whoever lasts will be under the microscope. Don't forget about E.J. Jenkins. He's looked good this spring.

Parris Campbell or John Ross (or both), wide receiver

Parris Campbell seemed like a fringe guy until DeVante Parker retired, but the last time we saw him, Jalen Hurts was looking for him constantly. That means QB1 trusts him. That's a good thing.

John Ross probably wouldn't be here had Parker stayed, but that's of no consequence now. The former first-rounder has his sights set on a comeback.

There may not be room enough for both guys. We could see both make the roster. Who knows? There's so much left to iron out once training camp and the preseason arrive.

Both Campbell and Ross have done what is necessary to make a name for themselves to this point. The job isn't finished, but so far so good on both fronts.

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