Damaris Johnson is headed for the exits, but the Eagles’ wide receiver could still avoid being cut before Saturday’s roster cutdown deadline.
The Eagles are having “active trade discussions” involving the third-year pro, according to a team source. They’re hoping to deal Johnson, who can also return kicks, to get something in return for player who has no future with the club.
Of course, for a trade to happen another team has to be interested enough to give up something, most likely a low-round draft pick. A team would only deal for Johnson if it didn’t think he’d clear waivers after being released.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Johnson is among several fringe wideouts who spent all camp with the Eagles but won’t make the team. He doesn’t fit Chip Kelly’s mold for big, physical wideouts and he hasn’t established himself as a dangerous return specialist despite excelling on special teams in college.
The list of other wideouts who won’t be on the 53-man roster includes Arrelious Benn, who went on short-term injured reserve, Ifeanyi Momah and Quron Pratt, each of whom were cut Friday, per sources (see story). The Eagles have until 4 p.m. Saturday to get their roster in compliance with NFL rules.
Johnson signed with the Eagles in 2012 as a rookie free agent out of Tulsa, where he set NCAA records for all-purpose yards (7,796) and kick-return yards (3,417) despite being suspended his senior season for an off-field incident that included an arrest.
He won the punt return job as rookie for then-coach Andy Reid and averaged 11.2 yards per return. He brought back one punt 98 yards for a touchdown. He also caught 19 passes for 256 yards. But he showed poor judgment on returns and had almost as many fair catches (23) as returns (26).
Last year, in Kelly’s first season, Johnson averaged just 8.3 yards on 12 returns and caught just two passes for 14 yards. Kelly has several options to return kicks, starting with rookie wideout Josh Huff, who is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury. The Eagles also have Darren Sproles, Nolan Carroll, Brad Smith and — if he’s not released — running back Kenjon Barner as potential kick-return candidates while Huff is sidelined.