Philadelphia Eagles: JaQuan Bailey deserves a practice squad spot

(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) /

JaQuan Bailey was never going to make the Philadelphia Eagles‘ initial 53 man roster.

I know that may seem harsh, and in a way it is, but considering the team added one defensive end in free agency, two more in the draft, and already had three more locked into their rotation, Bailey would have had to turn in a preseason for the ages to secure a spot at the bottom of the 53 man roster.

That, unfortunately, didn’t happen. Bailey played well, darn well even, but his game never quite cleared the “transcended” hurdle needed to generate the requisite chatter to facilitate a defensive end composition, and thus, he was among the first set of players waived by the Birds after preseason Game 3.

But hey, it’s cool. Assuming JaQuan Bailey clears waivers, there’s a very real chance he could be back with the Philadelphia Eagles this fall on the practice squad, where he’ll be an injury away from an NFL opportunity.

JaQuan Bailey’s time with the Philadelphia Eagles shouldn’t be over just yet.

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At Iowa State, JaQuan Bailey was a problem.

A five-year contributor for the Cyclones, Bailey logged 25 sacks in 50 games of action while filling out his stat line with 150 total tackles, 44 tackles for a loss, and four forced fumbles for his efforts.

Fun fact: Much like Tarron Jackson and Patrick Johnson, Bailey is the all-time sack leader in his college’s history, which is an impressive feat considering the legacy of players that call Iowa State home.

Bailey was a consistent contributor for a team that went from really bad to really good, moved all over the defensive line to feast on mismatches, and even recorded a few impressive pass defenses on his way to the pocket.

Needless to say, if you’re a quarterback from the Big 12, you surely know the name JaQuan Bailey and probably aren’t a huge fan.

And yet, for one reason or another – probably his abysmal athletic testing numbers – Bailey received very little interest during the pre-draft process and ultimately didn’t hear his name called over draft weekend.

But hey, it’s cool; even with three new front-seven players inbound, Howie Roseman clearly saw something he liked in the former Iowa State defensive end and signed him to a UDFA deal with $40,000 guaranteed and a $15,000 signing bonus.

Largely playing alongside Jackson for the bulk of his preseason snaps, Bailey played 126 snaps for the Eagles over the 2021 NFL preseason, including 39 versus the New York Jets as the team’s starting end. He logged eight tackles – three versus the Steelers, two versus the Pats, and three versus the Jets – and even picked up a tackle for loss in Game 1.

Elite production? Hardly, but encouraging enough to garner a longer look on the practice squad, a fact Howie Roseman probably agrees with, as he may have just waived Bailey early for a reason.

Don’t believe me? Well, allow me to elaborate. By waiving Bailey now, he will pass through waivers while some teams are still playing games and thus has a lower chance of being claimed off of waivers. That’s the same tactic Roseman used last season, too, and the Eagles didn’t lose a single player in their initial trim down to 53 players.

And if Bailey does make it to the practice squad? Well, then he’s an injury away from the active roster, where anything can happen.

Next. Jordan Matthews, 49ers tight end? Believe it. dark

If JaQuan Bailey the second coming of Travis Fulgham or, say, Raequan Williams? Will he have a long career in the NFL, or will his time in the league serve as nothing more than a modest signing bonus, some guaranteed money, and a collection of fun memories? Only time will tell, but the Philadelphia Eagles certainly owe it to themselves to take a longer look at the pride of Iowa State.