Eagles Playmaker Coming Off Career Year Named Cut Candidate: ‘On Watch’

Nick Sirianni

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni

Britain Covey has been a solid contributor on special teams for the Philadelphia Eagles over the last two seasons.

Last year, Covey led the league in punt return yards (417) and was considered a Pro Bowl snub. A lot can change in a hurry in the NFL, though, and Covey’s place on the team isn’t guaranteed.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report named Covey a top cut candidate, and his reasoning is solid.

“Britain Covey has found a way to stick on the Eagles roster over the last two seasons. His kick and punt return abilities have seen him play in 33 of 34 regular season games. That streak will be challenged this summer,” Ballentine wrote on May 8, adding:

“The Eagles put Covey on watch when they drafted Ainias Smith in the fifth round. … Covey has already shown that he doesn’t offer much as a receiver. He had six targets in 2023 and none in 2022.”

Eagles WR Britain Covey Must Up His Game to Avoid Getting Cut

An undrafted free agent out of Utah, Covey signed with Philadelphia after the 2022 draft. The wideout was not targeted at all as a receiver during his rookie season, returning punts and kicks only. Covey returned 33 punts for 308 yards and 10 kickoffs for 206 yards in 17 games that year.

In Year 2, he became a playmaker on special teams, particularly as a punt returner. He had a memorable career-high 54-yard return in Philly’s Christmas game against the rival New York Giants:

Covey also contributed as a receiver for the first time in 2023, catching four passes on six targets for 42 yards. That paltry production may be what does him in, however.

“The Eagles slot position is still relatively open. They added Parris Campbell in free agency, but he’s been injury prone throughout his career. If Smith can prove to be an asset there while offering some return potential, he might bump Covey off the roster,” Ballentine noted.

Thus, if Covey cannot outperform Smith in training camp and over the preseason, he could lose his job to the rookie.

Ainias Smith Could Be Upgrade for Eagles at WR & Special Teams

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Smith isn’t much larger than Covey, who is listed at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds. But the former Texas A&M standout may offer much more than Covey has in terms of production as a wide receiver.

In 12 games with the Aggies in 2023, Smith hauled in 53 passes for 795 yards (15.0 yards per catch) and 2 touchdowns. He’s tough and physical for his size, and he’s a solid route runner.

Smith could also usurp Covey as Philly’s return man. Last year at Texas A&M, Smith averaged 14.3 yards per punt return while also scoring a touchdown.

“His ability to run after the catch, his ability to get in and out of breaks, (and) I think he is extremely tough; I love that about him,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said about Smith, via The Philly Voice.

“That’s really what sticks out. Catches the ball really well. Those are the things that really stick out. It’s going to be fun to see how we can get him the football and different ways that he can contribute both on special teams and on offense.”

It’s early, but it’s looking like the Covey vs. Smith competition will be one of the most intriguing to watch unfold in the coming months.

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