Ahead of the NFL’s deadline for the first roster cuts of the season, the Eagles announced the release of 14 players Saturday.
The 14 cut victims consist of wide receivers B.J. Cunningham and Kadron Boone, tight ends Emil Igwenagu and Blake Annen, offensive tackle Michael Bamiro, offensive guards Karim Barton and Donald Hawkins, defensive ends Joe Kruger, Alejandro Villanueva and Frank Mays, inside linebacker Jake Knott, safeties Davon Morgan and Daytawion Lowe, and kicker Carey Spear.
Nearly half of the jettisoned players were undrafted rookie free agents, whereas Cunningham, Igwenagu, Kruger, Villanueva and Knott were among the more notable cuts.
Cunningham, a sixth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2012, spent his entire rookie season on the Eagles practice squad and was on and off the scout team last year. He would have had a touchdown catch in the team’s latest preseason game if not for a penalty, but he also faced steep competition at the back end of the WR corps.
Igwenagu, noted for his versatility as an undrafted product of Massachusetts in 2012, spent most of the last two seasons on the Eagles practice squad, making two stints on the active roster. The emergence of Zach Ertz and presence of James Casey behind Brent Celek seemed to make him expendable.
Kruger, the younger brother of Browns pass rusher Paul Kruger, was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2013. He seemed to be an ideal long-term project for the team’s 3-4 defense, but spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve and appeared behind his competition this summer.
Villanueva was arguably known just as much for his off-field achievements as his role in the Eagles’ defensive end competition. A former Army Ranger who served three overseas tours after a college career with the U.S. Military Academy team, he could be a candidate to join Philadelphia’s practice squad.
Knott appeared in 12 games as an undrafted rookie in 2013, serving as a reserve ILB for the Eagles. He was suspended for the first four games of 2014 earlier this offseason, however, after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Philadelphia has until 4 p.m. Tuesday to trim its roster from 90 to 75 players, so after cutting ties with more than a dozen competing backups, the team needs just one more transaction before its fourth and final preseason game.