Not seeing any game action from 2019-21, Justin Evans relaunched his career in New Orleans last season. His Saints showing generated Eagles interest, and the defending NFC champions signed the former second-round pick this offseason.
Despite playing as a part-timer for a 7-10 Saints squad last season, Evans worked as a full-time starter for the Eagles this year. Philadelphia used Evans as a four-game starter, doing so as it retooled at safety in the offseason. But Evans’ season came to a halt due to a knee injury. His IR stay will now shift to a long-term designation.
The Eagles designated Evans for return on Nov. 14 but let the 21-day activation window expire Tuesday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. This will send the veteran safety to season-ending IR. The Eagles will preserve their five remaining IR activations, while Evans will be ineligible to play again this season. Shaquille Leonard will take Evans’ place on Philly’s 53-man roster; the former All-Pro linebacker chose the Eagles over the Cowboys on Monday. Philly’s move doubles as the first instance of a player’s IR-return window closing this season.
Evans signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract in March, doing so as the Eagles let their two starters from 2022 — C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps — sign midlevel deals elsewhere. Epps signed a two-year, $12MM Raiders contract, while Gardner-Johnson could only fetch a one-year, $6MM Lions pact. But the Eagles have made a major change at the position during Evans’ IR stint.
Former All-Pro Kevin Byard now lines up alongside Reed Blankenship at safety, with the Eagles making a trade with the Titans that sent backup Terrell Edmunds and two Day 3 draft picks to Tennessee. Edmunds had started three Eagles games this season, with Evans also missing an early-season game with a neck injury. Behind Byard and Blankenship, the Eagles have third-round rookie Sydney Brown. Josiah Scott and Tristin McCollum are the safeties on Philly’s practice squad.