August 19, 2023   3 MIN READ

Breaking Down Birds Moves

What's Going On At Cornerback?


The Eagles on Saturday announced a ton of roster moves before they reconvened for practice at the NovaCare Complex, some of them more impactful than others.

Here’s the entire list:

Let’s review the significance of these moves:

* The move to waive Tyrie Cleveland, Zech McPhearson and Noah Elliss are largely procedural. All three are currently injured but the Eagles needed open roster spots – especially for Thursday’s preseason game – so by waiving them with injuries, the team anticipates all three will go unclaimed and revert back to its injured reserve list, where the Eagles will preside over their medical care and recovery.

GETTY IMAGES: Are the Eagles planning to keep six cornerbacks, and why is James Bradberry working at nickel?

* Cornerback has become an interesting conversation. The prevailing thought is McPhearson, entering his fourth year, would’ve made the 53-man roster as Avonte Maddox’s slot backup and as a major piece of special teams.

I don’t disagree with the idea of McPhearson making the 53, but you can’t ignore the numbers issue confronting the team here.

The Eagles typically keep five corners. Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Maddox are the top three. Josh Jobe was locked into the top backup outside cornerback spot, making him the fourth and making Greedy Williams expendable.

Teams don’t cut fourth-round picks, so Kelee Ringo was always locked into a spot on the 53 despite an average-at-best camp. Jobe and Ringo are the fourth and fifth corners.

Were the Eagles really going to keep McPhearson and go six deep, especially when they need to go heavy at defensive line?

The answer is probably yes and no. McPhearson would’ve made it, but the Eagles could’ve made a surprise trade or release at the cutdown date. Maddox’s injury history could’ve made him a target to be moved.

Remember, the Eagles have been working James Bradberry at nickelback throughout camp. You have to ask yourself what prompted the coaches suddenly explore Bradberry in the nickel role – which by the way I think is a really good idea for him – if they were already wedded to Maddox and McPhearson there?

Mario Goodrich suddenly becomes a potential for the 53 as he’s worked as an inside defensive back/nickel all camp, or the Eagles could just keep five and use Bradberry in the backup slot role, with Jobe coming in for nickel and dime packages to play outside.

In the past, the Eagles frequently moved outside corner Sheldon Brown to nickel and filled the outside void with someone speedier, like Rod Hood. It’s been done before, and Bradberry’s strengths and weaknesses actually align well with the responsibilities of a nickelback, but the Eagles didn’t pay Bradberry top dollar this offseason to move him permanently inside.

Just something to watch here over the next few weeks.

* As for punter, Tyler Zentner’s release doesn’t determine incumbent Arryn Siposs as the winner. It just means Siposs outperformed the rookie from Kansas State.

Siposs still has to worry about the threat of another punter being signed before the season.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for

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