When the Philadelphia Eagles released Nate Herbig earlier in the offseason, it felt like a mistake.
Sure, the Birds had solid depth at the position, which was made all the more impressive with the addition of Cam Jurgens in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but Herbig had experience playing multiple roles across multiple positions, with 17 starts and 1377 snaps over his 33 game resume. Even if he couldn’t really play center and his cap hit of a little over $2.4 million is a luxury for a team with more linemen than roster spots, losing him for nothing was certainly a choice.
What if someone suffered an injury? What if multiple players suffered injuries? Why let him go in May when he could have stuck around until the penultimate day of August?
Well, as it turned out, the decision worked out pretty well for all parties involved. The Eagles had so much depth that they could say goodbye to Jack Anderson and still feel confident in their ability to field a championship contender. And as for Herbig? Well, he just made the New York Jets roster coming out of camp and appears destined for a valuable role as a utility interior backup for Robert Salah’s squad.
Nate Herbig is making it work in a non-Philadelphia Eagles shade of green.
When Joe Douglas claimed Herbig off of waivers, it wasn’t to fill one specific role on his team’s depth chart.
The Jets already had a pair of tackles they liked in Mekhi Becton and George Fant, a second-year, second-round USC tackle turned right guard named Alijah Vera-Tucker, and a pair of high-end free agent linemen in Laken Tomlinson and Connor McGovern manning the left guard and center positions respectively. At best, Herbig would compete with Vera-Tucker for the right guard spot, and at worst, he’d be a camp body looking for a third team in as many months.
Fortunately for Herbig, his opportunity fell somewhere in the middle. Though he largely spent his summer with the Jets’ twos, he was at least firmly with the two and looked solid enough against his former team when New York took on Philadelphia in the preseason opener. He remained a fixture of the team from that point on, and when the roster had to be trimmed down to 53, Herbig ultimately stuck around without issue, marking his fourth-straight summer with the same result.
Whether he starts none, one, or all 17 games this fall, Herbig suddenly finds himself an injury away from serious on-field action, which is a whole lot higher on the proverbial pecking order than he would have been in Philadelphia.
Will the Philadelphia Eagles ultimately come to miss Herbig? Frankly, probably not; the Birds have more linemen than they know what to do with and I’m firmly convinced that with a week of preparation, Jeff Stoutland could have Jordan Davis playing guard at a serviceable level if need be. No, in the end, the decision to waive Herbig back in May worked out for all parties involved, which certainly can’t be said about every move in the NFL.