The Philadelphia Eagles confirmed what everyone feared: Richard Rodgers will miss multiple weeks with a foot injury. The veteran tight end went down with an apparent calf injury during Monday’s joint practice with the Ravens. He was carted off the field and the immediate thought was it was an ACL tear.
However, the Eagles are classifying Rodgers’ ailment as a foot injury and didn’t say it was season-ending. The team could choose to keep him on the final 53-man roster and place him on injured reserve after the preseason. If the Eagles designate Rodgers as IR right now, then he cannot return this season. Rodgers was probably going to make the team, depending on how many tight ends they decide to keep. That journey appears — on the surface, at least — to be over.
With Rodgers out for an extended period, the Eagles have three younger players that can step in. Josh Perkins, Alex Ellis and Will Tye are fighting for the third tight-end spot. Perkins has stood out the most in training camp and summer practices, including making two catches for 18 yards in two preseason games.
“I think Josh is having a steady camp. He’s doing some nice things and there are some things that we know he still needs to improve on,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh told reporters. “He’s focused on those, and certainly comes out here and works really hard and shows up.”
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn reported that the Eagles could be looking to add an additional tight end to compete for the roster spot. While that move seems a bit drastic, it’s possible. Let’s take a look at a few options.
Tight Ends Available in NFL Free Agency
1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
The 26-year-old signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, but was cut in June and told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he was taking a month off from football to deal with “personal issues.” Well, a month has passed and the Eagles suddenly have a need for an extra tight end. Would they be willing to take a chance on a guy with character issues? In 2016, Seferian-Jenkins was pulled from a game in Tampa Bay for “not knowing what he was doing.” In 2017, he reached a plea deal in a driving under the influence case stemming from an incident in Florida. In six very productive NFL seasons, Seferian-Jenkins has 116 receptions for 1,160 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
2. Jermaine Gresham
At first glance, the 31-year-old Gresham doesn’t appear to fit in with the Eagles’ rapid youth movement. However, this is a solid veteran player who appeared in two Pro Bowls in his early years with the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2012, he racked up 64 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns while turning into a waiver-wire steal for fantasy football nerds. He’s also a good dude as evidenced by a story about him paying for a random airline passenger’s carry-on fee. According to ESPN, he does random acts of kindness like that all the time. In nine NFL seasons, Gresham has 377 catches for 3,752 yards and 29 touchdowns.
3. Neal Sterling
Sterling is a very interesting option at tight end, especially considering his ties to the Jersey shore. The 27-year-old grew up in Belmar, NJ and played college football at Monmouth University. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft and spent his first two seasons in Jacksonville. Sterling struggled to latch on with the Jaguars, only appearing in 19 games, and then signed with the New York Jets. But a concussion-shortened 2018 season stunted a promising beginning after he started in five games. The Jets cut bait with Sterling in June. He played in 16 games and made 12 receptions for 129 yards.