Alex McCalister

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/5/17

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eagles Reach 53-Man Limit

The Eagles dropped 17 players from the roster on Saturday in order to make the 53-man max:

Gerry was a fifth-round pick of the Eagles, so it’s a surprise to see that he did not make the cut. Then again, he had the tough task of converting from safety to linebacker this offseason, so the transition could take a little longer. He could be a candidate for the Eagles’ practice squad.

Eagles Cut Rueben Randle

The Eagles have announced a series of roster moves today, and the most surprising transaction is the release of wide receiver Rueben Randle, who was signed to a one-year deal over the offseason. Randle, who is still only 25 years old, was thought to be a clear starter for Philadelphia after averaging 56 receptions, 782 yards, and six touchdowns over the past three seasons with the Giants.Rueben Randle (Vertical)

But after the Eagles acquired Dorial Green-Beckham, Randle’s roster spot became tenuous, especially given his lackluster performance during the preseason. Philadelphia handed Randle $500K in guarantees plus a $25K roster bonus, so the club will incur $525K in dead money. Because he’s a vested veteran, Randle will not have to clear waivers and will become a free agent immediately.

The Eagles also made the following transactions:

Cut:

Placed On Injured Reserve:

Impact Rookies: Philadelphia Eagles

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

First Round – Carson Wentz, QB (North Dakota State, No. 2 overall)

You can never have enough arms,” might be what you hear from the Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach, but it looks like Eagles GM Howie Roseman took that phrase to heart with his recent dealings at the quarterback position. He turned a journeyman quarterback (Mark Sanchez) to the Broncos for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017. Sanchez had played in thirteen games for the Eagles since he joined the team in 2014, but with Doug Pederson taking over as head coach, the team decided to blow up the quarterback position. Carson Wentz

It was expected that Pederson would hang his coaching future to the fragile body of Sam Bradford, but in a surprising move, the team handed a high-priced multi-year deal to one of Pederson’s old quarterback students – Chase Daniel. There were rumblings that even with those two in the fold, that names like 49ers disgruntled passer, Colin Kaepernick, was brought up in serious discussions held by the front office. Even then, free agent Robert Griffin III was considered for added depth.

Then, the rumors refused to die – the Eagles wanted to move up in the draft and were in talks with Tennessee for the top pick, before the Titans agreed to ship that choice to the Rams. Roseman then turned to Cleveland, pulling off a trade that saw the Eagles send the Browns their eighth overall selection, their third round pick (No. 77 overall) and fourth round choice (No. 100) in the 2016 draft, along with a first rounder in 2017 and a second round pick in 2018. In addition to securing the second pick in the draft, Philadelphia also took home a fourth round in 2017 in the exchange.

Roseman did not hesitate to snatch away Carson Wentz after the Rams selected California’s Jared Goff, . Word was that if the Rams took Wentz, the Eagles simply would have taken Goff instead. Actually, for the system Pederson runs, Wentz might be a glass slipper fit, while Goff would have had to adjust from the system he was developed under in California.

In just two years as a starter, Wentz has delivered the Bison a pair of NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national championships. He has started just 23 games, compiling a 20-3 record at the helm. A right wrist fracture sidelined him for most of the second half of the 2015 schedule, but he returned in time to help the team record its fourth consecutive FCS title.

Despite having just two seasons as a starter under his belt at NDSU, you could tell from that first practice that Wentz was a good student of the game, one that can easily adjust from college ball to raise his game to another level in a pro-style passing attack. There is no question that he has a solid feel for pre-snap reads, doing a nice job of making checks and locating secondary targets (he distributed the ball to an average of eight different receivers per game in 2014-15). He is a smart passer with keen eyes scanning the field and follows through with his progressions. With innate instincts and ever-improving developing decision making skills, it seems like he’s not far off from being able to handle a pro offense.

With Bradford starting and Daniel also on the depth chart, Wentz does not have a clear path to play in 2016. At least, not just yet. If the oft-injured Bradford finds himself sidelined again, we could see the rookie under center. Wentz still needs time to develop, of course, but he already has the acumen to lead an NFL offense if called upon.

Continue reading about the Eagles’ rookie class..

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Eagles Sign Five Rookies

The Eagles announced that they have agreed to terms with five members of their draft class. Running back Wendell Smallwood (fifth round; pick No. 153), defensive back Blake Countess (sixth-round, pick No. 196), defensive back Jalen Mills (seventh-round; pick No. 233), defensive end Alex McCalister (seventh-round; pick No. 240), and linebacker Joe Walker (seventh-round; pick No. 251) are now officially members of the Eagles after inking four-year pacts. Wendell Smallwood (vertical)

[RELATED: Eagles Likely To Hire Joe Douglas As Personnel Chief]

Smallwood, a West Virginia product, declared early for the draft after enjoying his best season to date. In 2015, Smallwood ran for 1,519 yards off of 238 carries with nine touchdowns. The 5’11”, 201-pound tailback also added 26 catches for 160 yards. In 2014, Smallwood was arrested after allegedly intimidating a witness in a murder case implicating his longtime friend, as Les Bowen of The Inquirer details. Since then, the tailback says that he has grown as a person and the Eagles ostensibly agree.

I was just in a wrong situation,” Smallwood said. “I was young, hanging out with the wrong people. I was never around whatever happened. I wasn’t involved. There was no evidence, no witness against me. “I’ve just been learning from it and letting everybody know the truth. I’ve been completely honest with the guys here and the guys at every team I spoke to. They were well aware of it . . . I think they have confidence in me, that that’s not me, and that was a one-time thing, and it won’t happen again.”

With five rookies signed, the Eagles have only three players from this class left to take care of: quarterback Carson Wentz, guard Isaac Seumalo, and tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Earlier today, new Falcons safety Keanu Neal became the first-round pick to ink his a rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Higbee, Boehringer, Miller

Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee plead not guilty to charges stemming from his alleged altercation on Sunday, as Peter Schrager of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Higbee, considered to be one of the top tight ends in this year’s class, contends that the other man involved in the skirmish put his hands on his girlfriend, prompting Higbee to intervene. The other participant in the fight has been booked five times since 2014.

As Schrager notes, Higbee’s court date is on May 5th, days after the draft on April 28th-30th. Prior to the incident, teams were viewing Higbee as a Day 2 or Day 3 player, so they’ll be interested to hear his side of the story.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer had team visits with the Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings last week, as Andy Fenelon of NFL.com writes. On Monday and Tuesday, he met with the Rams, on Wednesday he’ll visit the Seahawks, and next week he’ll visit the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers. Boehringer started turning heads in the NFL last month and one scout estimated in March that he could go in the fourth round. Based on the number of teams interested in him, one has to wonder if Boehringer could go even earlier.
  • Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link), Ohio State receiver Braxton Miller said 10 clubs ventured to Columbus to work him out, and while a few have had do drills in the slot (where’s expected to play in the NFL), many had him work outside. The Titans, Bengals, and Ravens are just three of the teams known to have interest in Miller.
  • Like Miller, Michigan State defensive tackle Joel Heath also appeared on SiriusXM (Twitter link), and also discussed his specific NFL position, saying he’d be willing to move to the offensive line if that helped his pro prospects.
  • Washington, on the lookout for possible pass rushing help, is hosting Eastern Kentucky outside linebacker Noah Spence for a pre-draft visit today, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The Vikings met with McNeese State running back Derrick Milton last week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, who adds that Milton impressed Minnesota at their regional combine. Milton began his collegiate career at Mississippi State before transferring prior to the 2014 season.
  • Florida defensive end Alex McCalister met with the Eagles, as McAlister himself reported on Twitter. McCalister posted 12.5 sacks for the Gators over the past two seasons.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Texans, Browns, Prospects

Some assorted notes from around the NFL and NCAA…

  • B.J. Danielscontract with the Texans is worth $660K over two seasons, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The quarterback will earn $60K this season and $600K in 2016.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer expects Browns center Alex Mack to explore free agency this offseason, and the writer believes the veteran will receive some interest from other clubs. Due to the disappointment of first-round pick Cameron Erving, Pluto still thinks Cleveland could spend to keep their Pro Bowl lineman.
  • The Florida Gators will have a number of talented players to replace heading into 2016. Coach Jim McElwain confirmed underclassmen running back Kelvin Taylor, receiver Demarcus Robinson, and defensive end Alex McCalister will all enter the NFL Draft. All this is in addition to cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who is expected to be a top-10 pick this offseason.
  • Maryland defensive end Quinton Jefferson has also declared his intentions to enter the NFL Draft, according to the Baltimore Sun. He made the announcement via his Twitter account. He joins his opposite bookend Yannick Ngakoue in leaving the Terrapins early for the pros.

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.