For a time, Jaquiski Tartt was the Philadelphia Eagles’ missing man.
Initially signed back in June of 2022 to solidify the depth at the back end of the defense, Tartt had a quiet camp that saw him miss the preseason opener due to personal reasons and was largely written off by fans who care more about the “what have you done for me lately”-s than playing the long game.
Factor in the rumbling that Philly remains on the lookout to trade for another safety, and the prospects of Tartt making the 53-man roster seemed dubious, to say the least.
Fortunately, the penultimate preseason game of the summer gave football fans the world over their first look at Tartt in anything but a San Francisco jersey, and the results, though far from dominating, were good enough to keep his prospects of making the 53-man roster alive for at least another week.
Jaquiski Tartt may stick with the Philadelphia Eagles yet.
As things presently stand, there are seven defensive backs who feel like borderline locks to make the Eagles’ roster next month: Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Josiah Scott, Marcus Epps, and Anthony Harris. Obviously, more than seven defensive backs will make the team – realistically as many as 12 could make the 53-man roster – but those players appear to be borderline locks to be on the sidelines for Week 1 wearing a jersey instead of a practice squad sweatshirt.
While Scott’s newfound ability to play every position across the defensive backfield certainly makes life easier for the Eagles’ team building philosophy, as he can wear multiple hats on game days this fall and play a hybrid role on the field, his status as a safety is only a few months old, and it might not be the best idea to expect him to play 700-plus snaps at a single safety spot should Epps and/of Harris suffer an injury.
If Tartt can be that player, then great – the Eagles can go into the regular season with the Samford product filling the top spot on their reserve depth chart a la Boston Scott and use J. Scott as change of pace, do-it-all DB a la Kenneth Gainwell. And if not? Well, teams are about to trim their rosters down to 80 and will then go down to 53 after the final preseason game – if Howie Roseman wants another safety, he’ll have chances to secure one.
Now, to his credit, Tartt played well against the Browns. He not only finished out the game with the most defensive snaps played by any of Philly’s players at 59 but did so at a high level, finishing out the game with the highest defensive rating on the team, according to Pro Football Focus, with a 74.0 – which is an objectively good grade in the PFF system. He was seemingly always in the right spot against both the run and the pass and clearly looked like a seventh-year vet who shouldn’t be playing with UDFAs and Day 3 picks in the second game of the preseason.
If Tartt can continue to make plays around the line of scrimmage in the run game, where he shut down a would-be first down run by John Kelly on fourth-and-1 with a very situationally aware tackle, his chances of making the team should be upgraded from toss-up to “leaning keep.”
Since Howie Roseman returned to power in 2016, he’s made it a nearly annual tradition to sign a veteran safety off the free agent market to give his defensive coordinator, be that Jim Schwartz or Jonathan Gannon, a reliable third option to log snaps behind the starters. From Corey Graham to Andrew Sendejo, these players have had varying degrees of success and have been appreciated accordingly by fans. Will Tartt fall closer to Graham or Sendejo on the veteran safety scale? Only time will tell, but after looking like a candidate to get cut a few weeks ago, his performance in the Eagles’ second preseason game should set fans up to find out.