Eagles Spend Nearly $500K on UDFAs, Who Will Make It?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles obviously gave up a lot to get Carson Wentz and that had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the roster in that a lighter haul from the actual draft made undrafted free agency far more important for Philadelphia than most teams.
How much more important?
Well the Eagles ended up spending over $200,000 more than any other NFL team in the process, according to ESPN's Field Yates.
You need only to follow the money to find the biggest fish in the Eagles' UDFA pool, San Diego State offensive guard Darrell Greene and Incarnate Word linebacker Myke Tavarres, who ended up as the two highest-paid undrafted free agents in the entire league with Greene getting $105,000 to sign and Tavarres settling for $10K less than that.
Through the first two-weeks of OTAs, Greene has been working with the third-team at right guard behind high-priced, free-agent acquisition Brandon Brooks and former Alabama All-American Barrett Jones. Tavarres, meanwhile, is working with the outside linebackers on the third team behind starters Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham as well as Deontae Skinner and Najee Goode, who is also cross-training in the middle as Jordan Hicks' backup.
Here's 973espn.com's early impressions on the five Eagles UDFAs who have the best chance to remain around come September.
No. 5 - John DePalma, Long snapper, West Virginia - DePalma got a $10.5K signing bonus and over $25K in guarantee to push the 35-year-old Jon Dorenbos, who slipped a bit last season after reaching his second Pro Bowl the year prior. Long snapping is defined by consistency and the winner here likely will become clear during the preseason games in August.
No. 4 - Byron Marshall, running back, Oregon - The dynamic Marshall, 5-9, 201, isn't even here yet because Oregon uses that funky quarters system but he's a versatile player who was both a running back and receiver in Eugene, excelling at each. He ran for over 1,000 yards in 2013 and then cracked 1,000 in receiving yardage the next year. However, he played in just four games last season due to a leg injury, snaring nine receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles are trying him at RB first and with the oft-injured Ryan Mathews and the aging and potentially unhappy Darren Sproles as the core of the group, the opportunity to make a splash is there.
No. 3 - Greene - Yes, the Eagles invested heavily in Greene but he faces a much tougher numbers game on the offensive line as the Eagles drafted two players — Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai — as well as brought in free agents Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski, who are all expected to make the final 53. There are only so many slots available so Greene, a big powerful road-grader type at 6-foot-3 and 320, who can really move people off the line of scrimmage, could be earmarked for the practice squad.
No. 2 - Cayleb Jones, wide receiver, Arizona - A draftable player who got a somewhat significant $10,000 signing bonus, as well as $15K guaranteed in base salary, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jones is the son of former NFL linebacker Robert Jones, and originally went to Texas before a charge of felon aggravated assault after hitting and breaking the jaw of a UT tennis player sent him looking for a fresh start. After the charges were reduced, Jones landed in Tucson and was Arizona’s top receiver the past two seasons, capturing honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors after a 55-catch, 904-yard performance last season. His size and ability to snatch 50-50 balls could have him pushing veterans like Chris Givens and T.J. Graham, especially of he can also help on special teams.
No. 1 - Tavrarres - The Eagles interest in Tavarres was well known prior to the draft as he scored a private workout with the team. He is a Division I talent who started his college career in junior college before moving to the SEC at Arkansas, and then finishing at Incarnate Word, a private Catholic university in San Antonio where he was named Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year. Many who followed the draft thought Tavarrres would project as the new breed hybrid linebacker/safety like Deone Bucannon in Arizona but Eagles defensive coordinator threw cold water on that idea Tuesday.
"He's 235 pounds. He's not that guy," Schwartz said. "He's more going through the transition of moving back and being more coverage oriented. You know, I think that's going to best fit his skill set. He can run, made a lot of plays in college, but he also went from junior college, cup of coffee at Arkansas to Incarnate Word, so he's got a big jump ahead of him. But he has the skill set to be able to do it. ...We thought a lot of (him) after the draft and tried our best to get him. We were lucky enough to get him signed.
With the Eagles’ depth problems at linebacker, it would almost be a surprise if Tavarres didn’t make the team at this point even though he has been started off rather slowly.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen