Nate Gerry

Eagles Notes: Ajayi, Darby, Sudfeld, LBs

The Eagles‘ current plan does not involve a running back-by-committee approach. Instead, Jay Ajayi is the clear No. 1 ball-carrier coming out of Philadelphia’s offseason activities. Corey Clement, Darren Sproles and a to-be-determined cog will fill out the backfield behind the former Dolphins starter.

Came in last year and obviously proved to us that he can handle it,” Doug Pederson said, via Zach Berman of Philly.com. “He’s definitely going into camp as the No. 1 guy. It takes nothing away from what Corey did or what Sproles has done here, Wendell [Smallwood], [Donnel Pumphrey] is coming back, Matt Jones. You’ve got guys that are going to compete in that role.”

Ajayi played well post-trade last season, averaging 5.8 yards per carry after gaining just 3.4 per tote in seven games with the Dolphins in 2017. No Eagle back averaged more than 11 carries per game last season, but Berman expects Ajayi to exceed that mark this year. Berman, though, does not anticipate the Eagles will re-sign Ajayi after this season due to the money he could well command after his contract year. This scenario would leave the Eagles in need come 2019, unless they view Clement as a potential every-down back.

Here’s the latest from the defending Super Bowl champions:

  • Nate Sudfeld has impressed during the Eagles’ offseason program. The No. 2 quarterback while Carson Wentz recovers, Sudfeld has given the impression he could handle backup responsibilities, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. This would come into play if the Eagles do decide to trade Nick Foles — for what would have to be a hefty haul considering their offseason-long reluctance on this front. But Sudfeld, a former Redskins sixth-round pick, has only thrown 23 passes — all in Philly’s Week 17 game last season. He did serve as the Eagles’ backup during the Super Bowl run, which is a fairly strong indicator of the franchise’s view of him at this point.
  • The Eagles finally moving on from Mychal Kendricks has left them a bit thin at linebacker. Although Jordan Hicks is currently expected to be back and resume a three-down role, his injury history (having missed 17 combined games in his three-year career) can’t leave Philly too comfortable. However, converted safety Nate Gerry is firmly in the mix to claim Kendricks’ old job at weakside ‘backer, per Zangaro. A college defensive back, Gerry spent last season on Philadelphia’s practice squad. He, former Broncos special-teamer Corey Nelson and Kamu Grugier-Hill represent the viable competitors to line up in base sets alongside Hicks and Nigel Bradham, Zangaro notes. A 2016 Patriots sixth-rounder, Grugier-Hill’s worked as a special-teamer for the Eagles the past two years.
  • Ronald Darby‘s experience, and the Eagles’ positioning as one of the favorites to win Super Bowl LIII, doesn’t add up to a preseason trade, Andrew Kulp of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. The Eagles have Darby under contract for one more season, at an affordable $1.1MM, and boast a less experienced cornerback contingent than last season’s. Patrick Robinson departed, and Sidney Jones has played in one game. Darby inserted himself in the Jameis Winston saga, perhaps creating a slight off-field hiccup. But the former Bills starter graded as by far the Eagles’ best corner last season, in the view of Pro Football Focus.

Spring Practice Notes: Jets, Darby, Ebron

Now that mandatory minicamps have wrapped up around the league and players have returned home for a few weeks, the NFL will experience something of a lull until we get closer to the start of training camp in July. In the past couple of days, however, beat writers have shared some lessons learned during spring practices, offered some insight as to what OTAs and minicamp revealed about the upcoming season, and discussed some questions that remain unanswered. So let’s dive right in:

  • Terrelle Pryor‘s injury concerns have been well-documented, but as Darryl Slater of NJ.com observes, the Jets are also dealing with injuries to CB Morris Claiborne and OLB Jordan Jenkins. Both Claiborne and Jenkins are expected to be ready for the start of training camp, while the status of Pryor and starting free safety Marcus Maye is still up in the air. Slater also wonders who will start at OLB alongside Jenkins. David Bass and Josh Martin are candidates, as is Lorenzo Mauldin, though Slater suggests Mauldin is on the roster bubble.
  • Slater also indicates that Henry Anderson may have the leg up in the battle for the Jets‘ starting defensive end position opposite Leonard Williams — New York desperately needs someone to take double teams away from Williams — and that Andre Roberts appears to be leading the competition for Gang Green’s punt returner job. He adds that wideout Chad Hansen has impressed this spring after being a non-factor in his rookie campaign last year.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com also likes what he sees from Hansen, and he says TE Neal Sterling and RB Elijah McGuire are other under-the-radar players to impress for the Jets this spring. Sam Darnold, meanwhile, is very much on the radar, and Cimini says Darnold has done nothing to suggest he cannot be a quality starter in the NFL.
  • The most important lesson learned during the Eagles‘ spring practices, per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is that Carson Wentz is progressing in his recovery from an ACL tear and could be ready to go in Week 1. However, as Berman points out, the defending champs have plenty of injury concerns outside of Wentz, though no key players appear at risk of missing any regular season time at this point.
  • Berman also writes that Jay Ajayi is the Eagles’ unquestioned No. 1 running back — in stark contrast to the summer of 2017, when the team was emphasizing a committee approach to the offensive backfield — and he names De’vante Bausby, Nate Gerry, and Dallas Goedert as young talents who have stood out in the spring. Gerry, a 2017 fifth-rounder who converted from collegiate safety to professional linebacker, could compete for a starting LB job this year, Berman says.
  • Speaking of Bausby, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com is also impressed with the 25-year-old’s work this spring, which may be enough to allow the Eagles to trade Ronald Darby.
  • Seahawks‘ 2018 seventh-round pick Alex McGough stood out this spring and has a legitimate chance to be Russell Wilson‘s backup this year, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Condotta also notes that Seattle’s first-round choice, Rashaad Penny, has looked the part and has also shown improvement in his pass-blocking technique, which will help him see more of the field this year.
  • TE Eric Ebron has been perhaps the most impressive newcomer for the Colts this spring, per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, who also says 2018 fourth-rounder Nyheim Hines was the most exciting rookie to watch. Hines, a running back from NC State, has the explosiveness and versatility to thrive in new head coach Frank Reich‘s scheme.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com says Harold Landry, the Titans‘ second-round draft choice this year, is living up to his draft pedigree and that, while he may have a hard time unseating veterans Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo as a starting OLB, he should see plenty of action as a situational pass rusher to begin his career. Wyatt also says Tennessee’s cornerbacks have been the most impressive position group of the spring.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

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.

East Notes: Revis, Jets, Giants

The Cowboys have a fair amount of cap space, but they are reportedly uninterested in adding Darrelle Revis to their defensive backfield. That doesn’t mean, however, that certain Dallas players don’t want to see Revis in silver-and-blue in the fall. Star wideout Dez Bryant tweeted Revis yesterday afternoon, saying, “Dallas?…I promise you are going to love what we got going on around here..your attitude fits our culture…waiting…..” While the Cowboys are doubtlessly pleased to see that Bryant is happy in Dallas, Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk confirms the earlier report that the team is unlikely to sign Revis. The Cowboys signed Nolan Carroll and drafted three corners this offseason, and they have chosen to build through the draft in recent years rather than sign expensive free agents.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com has a number of Jets-related notes this morning, and he observes that, outside of this year’s No. 6 overall selection, Jamal Adams, the player who has really stood out in the team’s OTAs is fellow rookie safety Marcus Maye. Maye, a second-round choice, impressed the organization with his ability to digest the defense and limit his mental mistakes on the practice field, leading New York to believe it could have an excellent safety tandem on its hands.
  • Cimini also believes that the Jets are making a mistake by parting ways with Eric Decker. He says young quarterbacks like Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty need a reliable wide receiver to help their development, and without Decker, New York really does not have such a player. Cimini also says that, if Jeremy Maclin signs somewhere other than Baltimore, the Jets’ leverage in Decker trade talks with the Ravens would of course increase, though he does not expect the Jets to get anything higher than a late-round draft choice for Decker regardless of what happens with Maclin.
  • Cimini also notes that there is “nothing cooking” on the Sheldon Richardson trade front, and that the Jets are prepared to go into the season with him and are hoping he can boost his value in advance of the trade deadline.
  • We have heard a lot about a potential long-term deal for Giants receiver Odell Beckham lately, but James Kratch of NJ.com, like many other writers, believes the most likely outcome is that OBJ plays out the 2017 season on his modest $1.8MM salary and that the two sides begin discussing a multi-year extension after the season.
  • In the same piece, Kratch says the Giants really like second-year kicker Aldrick Rosas, who has been exceedingly impressive in offseason practices, and that it is unlikely Big Blue adds a veteran kicker at this point.
  • Eagles rookie Nate Gerry‘s conversion to linebacker is going well, as Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com writes. The Nebraska product has put on about 16 pounds over the past month in his effort to go from hard-hitting collegiate safety to professional linebacker, and he will have the opportunity to get significant playing time in an unsettled linebacker unit in Philadelphia.

East Notes: Butler, Grant, Redskins

Malcolm Butler reported to the Patriots earlier this week to participate in voluntary workouts, but as Ryan Hannble of WEEI.com writes, that does not mean he is happy to be back in New England. Butler has been displeased since the club signed Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65MM deal this offseason, and while the Saints were apparently willing to pony up big bucks for Butler, they were unwilling to also part with their No. 11 overall draft pick for his services. But with Gilmore set to assume the No. 1 cornerback role in New England, Butler may be shifted to the slot, which could decrease his value when he hits unrestricted free agency next year. Hannable says that the situation is worth monitoring because if Butler isn’t playing the way he wants, and if that creates a locker room distraction, the Pats could still trade him, just as they traded Jamie Collins last year.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Jakeem Grant, who worked almost exclusively as a return man for the Dolphins last year, is being asked to learn the outside receiver positions this offseason, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Grant played only 19 offensive snaps last season, and he dropped the only pass thrown his way, but offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen believes his explosiveness will translate well to offense.
  • There are a few ways the Redskins go could about re-organizing their front office, which John Keim of ESPN.com helpfully summarizes in his latest mailbag. Keim believes the club will really start working on the issue over the next week or so, which will include interviewing potential GM candidates.
  • Nate Gerry was a safety during his collegiate career at Nebraska, but as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, the Eagles plan to convert Gerry, whom they selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft, to linebacker. Gerry will have a chance to compete for immediate playing time in an unsettled linebacker unit.
  • We learned yesterday that Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall plans to hang up the cleats after his two-year deal with Big Blue expires at the end of the 2018 season (as long as he has a Super Bowl ring by then).