Eagles Sign Promising Young RB, Make Very Surprising Cut at CB

Jason Huntley

Getty The Eagles signed RB Jason Huntley from New Mexico State to bolster their backfield.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman told reporters he wasn’t done tweaking the roster. He wasn’t kidding.

Philadelphia wasted no time shuffling their “final” 53-man roster around by signing Jason Huntley on Sunday. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound running back was a fifth-round pick (172nd overall) of the Lions in April’s draft.

Huntley joins a thin Eagles’ backfield that includes Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement. The move wasn’t surprising considering the depth chart. However, what did come as a shock was the player the team cut to make room for him: CB Cre’Von LeBlanc.

The slot corner signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in 2019 and seemed to be part of their long-term plans. Then, Philadelphia signed Nickell Robey-Coleman in the offseason to take his first-team spot. LeBlanc had been rumored in trade talks but cutting him outright is a head-scratching move. The team is down to just four cornerbacks.

Huntley racked up 2,197 rushing yards and 25 total touchdowns in 46 career games at New Mexico State. He finished with the seventh-most rushing yards in program history while earning All-American accolades in 2018. He gained 1,090 yards as a senior and his 7.1 yards-per-carry ranked fourth-best in the country. He’s an intriguing prospect who definitely fills a need in Philly.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions had cut Huntley with the intention of picking him back up once he cleared waivers. That plan “backfired” when the Eagles swooped in and claimed him.

Chasing Cheetah, Huntley Loves DeSean Jackson

Huntley’s nickname is J-Hunt — everybody called him Cheetah in high school — and his favorite player growing up was DeSean Jackson, according to the Lions’ website.

The Texas native had a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown at the 2017 Arizona Bowl in a 26-20 win, the most memorable moment of his young career. Huntley led the NCAA with three kickoff return touchdowns in 2018 while averaging 27.2 yards per return.

“When I was younger, I used to watch DeSean Jackson a lot,” Huntley told the Lions website. “I think that’s where I got my special teams love for, just watching him return kicks and I was just like, ‘wow.’ When I was younger, I also watched Percy Harvin when he was at Florida. He was fast, and Florida had this system where they had fast running backs and receivers going through there. His highlights were amazing.”

Huntley ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at his pro day, a faster time than any running back at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. NFL Draft Rite called him the “most slippery” back in college football.

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Looking at Eagles Running Backs Room

The Eagles surprisingly only kept three rushers on their initial 53-man roster, including cutting camp standout Elijah Holyfield.

There has been ongoing chatter about them signing a veteran back — paging Adrian Peterson? — but Huntley might be able to fill that void. Then again, Doug Pederson has been adamant about the team being comfortable with their running backs room.

“I’ve been pleased with the running backs during camp,” Pederson told reporters earlier this week. “Obviously, we know where Miles is at, day-to-day, working hard to get back. Boston has been a bright spot. He picked up where he left off at the end of the season, and really what he had done last year for us and has been looking really good. To me, Corey Clement, has worked really hard to bounce back from the injuries he has had, and he looks really good, strong, in a good position there.”

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