Extra Points: Beach time wins out over Eagles cuts
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Eagles' cuts weren't a top priority for me Saturday.
While general manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson were mulling over the roster, I was building sand castles and jumping waves with grandsons Hampton (4) and Graham (2) at Brooklyn Avenue beach in Cape May.
Such is thelife of a semi-retired sportswriter.
There was a football-related activity, however. In between digging holes, filling buckets with water and playing tag, I also served as a human tackling dummy in a game Hampton and Graham like to call, "Poppy, Knock You Down."
Basically, it entails Poppy (me) kneeling in the sand while they take turns ramming into me like a blitzing safety.
It was my second-most physical activity, behind only trying to get out of the ocean without getting pummeled by sharp-breaking waves that have been known to not only knock me down, but also separate me from my bathing suit. The key to success is all about timing. You have to wait for a lull in the swells, then high-step toward the beach like a North Wildwood Beach Patrol competitor competing in the surf dash at the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships.
I did pay attention to the roster moves once I got home and it quickly became apparent that the Eagles' 2017 draft is destined to considered one of the worst in franchise history.
Among the players released Saturday were cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, who were both members of that '17 draft. Jones was taken in the second round, followed by Douglas in the third. The group also featured defensive end Derek Barnett (first round), wide receiver Mack Hollins (fourth), running back Donnell Pumphrey (fourth), wide receiver Shelton Gibson (fifth), linebacker Nathan Gerry (fifth) and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls (sixth).
Only Barnett and Gerry are still on the team and Barnett has done little in his career other than recover Brandon Graham's strip sack in Super Bowl LII.
It's easily the Eagles' worst draft class since 2011, when guard Danny Watkins, safety Jaiquawn Jarrett and cornerback Curtis Marsh were their top three picks. That draft would have been a complete failure had they not drafted an undersized center out of the University of Cincinnati named Jason Kelce in the sixth round.
"It's tough to hit on all your draft picks," Roseman said Saturday in a teleconference. "But I think we've had a pretty good track record. You just have to make sure you're right a lot more than you're wrong."
To be fair, no one complained when Roseman and Pederson chose Jones in the second round. He was viewed as a potential first-round pick before suffering a torn Achilles tendon during a predraft workout at the University of Washington.
Roseman was right to take a gamble on him, but as anyone who has ever been to an Atlantic City casino knows, gambles don't always pay off.
"When we make these decisions we try to make sure we're not making them just based on where guys are picked," Roseman said. "One of the things I've learned from some of the great general managers in this league is that you have to understand when it's time to move on.
"For us, we're going to be aggressive (in the draft) and take some chances. And if we're wrong on those things, we have to learn from it, we have to figure out what went wrong and move forward."
Jones had three years to develop but was never really healthy enough or consistent enough to justify keeping him for a fourth season. Nagging injuries limited him to 22 career games. He showed flashes of talent late last season, but fell out of favor with defensive coordinator Jim Johnson after taking himself out of a game against Minnesota and never quite regained his confidence.
Don't be surprised if Douglas turns out to be a solid player for another team as a safety. Considering his size (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) and physical style, I was honestly surprised the Eagles didn't move him there instead of Jalen Mills.
If Douglas doesn't get claimed by another team off waivers, look for him to join the 16-player practice squad. Jones would also be a possibility, along with defensive end Shareef Miller, who was a fourth-round pick last year, and offensive tackle Prince Tago Wanagho. Wanagho, a sixth-round choice this year, was the only one of the Eagles' 10 draft picks to be waived Saturday.
That's also the case for the local players who were cut Saturday. With the practice squads being expanded from 10 players to 16 this season, look for defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson (Absegami, Galloway Township), offensive lineman Jamil Demby (Vineland), running back Wes Hills (Wildwood) and tight end Colin Thompson (Cape May resident) to be re-signed by Chicago, the Los Angeles Rams, Detroit and Carolina, respectively.
In other local news, running back Ryquell Armstead (Millville) was placed on Jacksonville's Reserve/Covid-19 list for the second time this year on Saturday. Once he's cleared to return, he'll be a key factor for the Jaguars. Defensive linemen Jack Crawford (St. Augustine) and Austin Johnson (St. Augustine) made the regular-season rosters for Titans and the New York Giants. Long snapper Clark Harris (Southern Regional) is entering his 12th season with the Bengals.
As for me, I'm entering my first season with my Extra Points blog and as a columnist with 973ESPN.com after 28 seasons of covering the Birds for a local newspaper.
It won't be as fun as playing "Poppy, Knock You Down," but I'm looking forward to it.