PHILADELPHIA – Eagles' tight ends coach Jason Michael deferred to Howie Roseman when asked about Richard Rodgers this week and the GM's ears must have been burning.
The Eagles brought back the veteran tight end who played very well as an injury replacement for Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz last season. In fact, Rodgers was graded as the second-best TE in the NFL in 2020, albeit over limited snaps (274), by ProFootballFocus.com, behind only Kansas City star Travis Kelce.
Despite that efficacy, Rodgers, 29, remained on the free-agent market due to a perceived lack of athleticism.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, was content to look at a host of young TEs as the potential backups to Goedert during the recently completed OTAs, a group that includes Jason Croom, Caleb Wilson, undrafted free agent Jack Stoll, and developmental projects Hakeem Butler and Tyree Jackson.
After the early returns, Rodgers, 6-foot-4, 250, was brought back for what will project to be his fourth season with the Eagles.
Rodgers finished with 24 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games (four starts) in 2020, all high-water marks for his time in Philadelphia which where he signed a free agent before the 2018 season.
Originally a third-round pick of the Packers in 2014 out of California, Rodgers has career totals of 145 receptions for 1,518 yards and 15 touchdowns in 84 career NFL games. He was with Washington last spring and summer before being released and returning to the Eagles on Sept. 8, ostensibly as an injury replacement for Josh Perkins.
Ertz remains under contract but is expected to be either traded or released before training camp begins on July 27.
Philadelphia also confirmed its deal with former Jacksonville receiver/return man Michael Walker.
Walker signed as a UDFA out of Boston College with the Jaguars in 2019. He made the Jags practice squad to start the season and was ultimately promoted to the active roster in November, mainly being used as a return specialist over seven games.
Walker, 5-11, 195, was placed on Injured Reserve by Jacksonville at the end of training camp in 2020 and was later waived with an injury settlement.
Former Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell is now part of the Eagles' personnel staff and likely lobbied to bring Walker into the mix.
The Eagles had room for both Rodgers and Walker after a series of roster moves earlier this week in which undrafted rookie quarterback Jamie Newman and receiver Khalil Tate were waived, and WR Trevon Grimes was waived/injured. Grimes passed through waivers and is now on IR.
Philadelphia's offseason roster now stands at 89.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.