Eagles Give Up on Donnel Pumphrey, Cut Down to 53
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The 16-month Donnel Pumphrey experiment ended Saturday when the Eagles waived the 2017 fourth-round pick, something the diminutive running back confirmed himself by saying goodbye on Twitter.
One of the few glaring personnel miscues in the Howie Roseman-Joe Douglas era, Philadelphia moved up to select the former San Diego State star, who left college as the NCAA's all-time leading rusher and was projected to be the ultimate replacement for Darren Sproles as the Eagles' third-down back.
Pumphrey looked exceptional in the spring of his rookie season but when the pads came on, it became evident that he just wasn't powerful enough for the transition to the NFL game before a hamstring injury had Philadelphia putting the redshirt on him.
He returned 10 pounds heavier this spring and seemed to be trending in a positive direction until another hamstring injury wiped out the ability to prove anything in the first three preseason games.
Pumphrey, who does have practice-squad eligibility if he clears waivers, returned Thursday against the New York Jets and flashed a little but with three receptions but it was too little, too late.
The Eagles have also released veteran receivers Kamar Aiken and Markus Wheaton as well as well-liked defensive end Steven Means.
Players waived included RB Josh Adams, CB De'Vante Bausby, LB Asantay Brown, TE Billy Brown, QB Joe Callahan, DT Winston Craig, WR Rashard Davis, TE Anthony Denham, G Aaron Evans, DE Danny Ezechukwu, S Ironhead Gallon, G Darrell Greene, QB Christian Hackenberg, T Taylor Hart, RB Matt Jones, DE Joe Ostman, WR Darius Prince, DT Elijah Qualls, S Jeremy Reaves, DT Aziz Shittu, CB Chandon Sullivan, C Jon Toth, WR Bryce Treggs, WR Greg Ward, LB Jaboree Williams, LB Kyle Wilson, and WR Tim Wilson.
Additionally, CB D.J. Killings, TE Gannon Sinclair and OT Toby Weathersby were waived with an injury designation.
Among the surprises making the 53-man roster were receiver DeAndre Carter, tight end Joshua Perkins and undrafted free agent defensive tackle Bruce Hector. Injuries to Alshon Jeffery (rehabbing shoulder surgery) and Richard Rodgers (knee) may have factored in when keeping the first two.
Along with Pumphrey, the Eagles parted ways with another 2017 draft pick in Qualls, a sixth-round pick that year.
"You've got to be consistent in what you're looking for, and when we have our first meeting before training camp, we stand in front of the team and say, ‘We're going to go with the best guys, and it doesn't matter where you're from or what your pedigree is, but we're going to do what's the best for the team,’" Roseman said when asked by 973espn.com about moving on from recent draft picks. "So it's not easy -- you spend all year for a certain number of picks, to take those guys off the board, and you look forward to them, and we've got to study about why guys don't have success."
Along the offensive line, the Eagles kept 10 including two Jeff Stoutland favorites: Jordan Mailata, the raw rookie trying to make the transition from rugby to the NFL, as well as veteran Chance Warmack, a player many thought would be released.
"We're very fortunate to have Jeff Stoutland as our offensive line coach," Roseman said. "When we were in the draft room and decided to trade two seventh-round picks for a rugby player – you know, you say it out loud and it's kind of funny. You saw him in the offseason, and the strides that he's taken have just been incredible. You saw it in the Cleveland game. You saw it against the Jets. He just gets better and better. It's so hard to find guys who are 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds, who can run like that and who have the core strength that he does. Certainly, there's no guarantees, but we want to develop players, and when you can find guys at hard-to-find positions to develop, it gets you excited."
Perhaps the biggest surprises from the cutdown were the release of Means, the veteran scout-team star, and Bausby, who started training camp splitting reps with Sidney Jones as the first-team nickel back.
Roseman admitted the well-regarded Means was the last cut.
"Steven was the last cut, and I think because of what he means as a person and a player, [it was] really hard," Roseman said. "Hard one. Again, I think for us, as we get going here, you have to think about where we are from a roster perspective and where we are on the 46 and what we need to give our coaches the best chance to win this week and the weeks going forward.
"We're deep at some positions that are hard to find, and at the same time, it doesn't make it any easier. Incredible person, a guy who's meant a lot to us on and off the field, and [it was] a tough one."
Teams have until Sunday at noon to make waiver claims for players released today around the league, and can then begin assembling their 10-player practice squads an hour after that.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen