Philadelphia Eagles: Claim Steven Sims before someone else does

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

There’s a time-honored NFL tradition of signing division rivals when they are either released or become available as free agents that is unlike any other American professional sports league.

From the Philadelphia Eagles signing Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray away from Dallas, to Washington signing Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson when their times in Philly came to a close, and even the New York Giants’ decision to sign Corey Clement earlier this offseason, the idea of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” prevails in the NFL in a way it just doesn’t in the NBA, NHL, or MLB.

Sidebar: The only team in the NFC East ex-Eagles fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson hasn’t played for yet is Washington, despite being so bad that he couldn’t even beat out Nate Sudfeld for a spot on the team as a rookie.

But why? Is it because NFL teams have exorbitantly large rosters where they can afford to waste a roster spot on team secrets? Or do teams simply like to bring in players they are familiar with? Could it be the two-hander of removing a valuable piece from a division foe to instead capitalize on their strengths yourself? Either way, Steven Sims, Washington’s primary return man over the past two years just became available, and the Philadelphia Eagles would be wise to put in a claim for his services, at least before someone else does.

The Philadelphia Eagles still don’t have a defined return man.

More from Section 215

In 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles’ return game was… eh.

Largely relying on Boston Scott as the team’s primary kick returner and Greg Ward as their primary punt returner, the Eagles ranked 12th in kick return yardage per game and 14th in punt return yards over the league’s final 16 game season.

Are either of those marks bad? No, but they really aren’t good either.

Though both Ward and Scott will surely be on the Eagles’ roster this fall – even if they both should see their roles contrast fairly significantly due to the emergence of Quez Watkins and Kenneth Gainwell respectively – the Eagles haven’t been resting on their laurels either in training camp or during the preseason, giving returns to Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Jason Huntley, and even Watkins through Weeks 1 and 2.

Have any of those players been particularly effective on special teams?


Much like in 2020, Reagor looks like a legit weapon who can pick up chunk yards as a situational punt returner, but much like DeSean Jackson in yesteryear, his offensive responsibilities may take precedent over filling that role full time. While having his presence as a part-timer certainly makes the team better – think Bill Goldberg in WWE – someone has to run the ball back with eight minutes to go in a 0-0 second half, even if they’re more looking to make contact rather than swinging for home runs.

And as for the kick return team? Well, we don’t really know, as the Eagles have only returned seven kicks so far this (pre)season, and only one has been for more than 35 yards.

Considering Huntley, the leader in the clubhouse to return kicks Week 1, missed the Birds’ second preseason game and is just now working his way back into organized team activities, there really is no clear favorite to win the team’s kick returner job as things presently stand.

So, with that in mind, why not throw Steven Sims’ name into the hat and see what happens?

Now, I’m going to be frank with you; Sims isn’t a generational game-breaker. He went undrafted out of Kansas in 2019 despite receiving rave reviews from some scouting services and having tape that looks like this and has only averaged 3.32 catches per game during his two-year tenure in DC playing under Jay Gruden, Bill Callahan, and Ron Rivera.

Still, he’s got 1,047 return yards to his name – which is more than any player on the Eagles right now – in only two years of action, and at worst, is a viable contender for a bottom-of-the-roster spot on a team that really only has four receivers worthy of being called roster “locks.”

Remember, Sims doesn’t need to beat out Watkins, Reagor, or DeVonta Smith to make the roster; he just needs to prove a better multi-positional performer than John Hightower and JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who have been certified non-factors through the first two preseason games of the summer.

For my money, give me an ultra-speedy performer from a small school with a chip on his shoulder over a pair of draftees who have thoroughly failed to live up to their pre-draft expectations.

Next. Only trade Derek Barnett for C.J. Henderson. dark

Heading into the offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles were on the lookout to strengthen their receiving corps with a veteran presence. They reportedly reached out to Kendrick Bourne, who ultimately signed with the New England Patriots and looked to make a statement versus the Birds in preseason Game 2, and were linked to a few other names that didn’t get particularly far due to their near-total lack of available funds. While Steven Simms isn’t Bourne – he’s smaller but notably faster – his addition could serve as a shot in the arm for an offense looking for a little additional pop at the bottom of their depth chart and in the game’s third facet of the game. Worst case scenario: He gets waived a week down the line, and no one is the wiser.