Eagles news

Punt returner Britain Covey reportedly released but could be back

The Eagles have reportedly waived receiver Britain Covey, leaving them without their top punt returner.

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Britain Covey, one of the top punt returners in the league over the last three months of last season, was among the Eagles’ roster cuts in advance of the 4 p.m. deadline for teams to reach the regular-season limit of 53 players.

The news was first reported by Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Covey won’t be the Eagles’ punt returner this year. If he clears waivers, the Eagles will almost certainly sign him to the practice squad, and the Eagles would be able to elevate him three times before either bringing him back to the 53-man roster or finding another punt returner.

Covey averaged 9.3 yards on 33 punt returners last year as a 25-year-old undrafted rookie from Utah, but after Week 4, he averaged 11.1 yards on 22 returns – 4th-highest in the league from Week 5 on behind former Eagle DeAndre Carter of the Chargers (12.2), Marcus Jones of the Patriots (11.6) and Ray-Ray McCloud of the 49ers (11.2).

Covey added a 27-yarder in the Super Bowl to set up a 2nd-quarter field goal. Including the postseason, he averaged 11.7 yards per return in his last 16 games. 

Veteran Greg Ward Jr., another slot receiver who returns punts, was also among the Eagles’ cuts on Tuesday.

Among players likely to land on the initial 53-man roster, Olamide Zaccheaus and Quez Watkins are the only other players who practiced punt returns during training camp. Zaccheaus returned three punts for the Falcons in 2021 for a 12.0 average. Watkins has never returned a punt in a regular-season game. DeVonta Smith returned two punts last year for 15 yards. 

With Covey not on the 53 and Ward and Devon Allen also released, A.J. Brown, Smith, Watkins, Zaccheaus and undrafted rookie Joseph Ngata are the only receivers remaining on the roster.

There’s a chance Covey could get claimed, but it’s not likely. He’s never been a factor on offense – he only played 19 snaps on offense last year and didn’t catch any passes. A team awarded Covey on waivers would have to release a player who that team liked enough to keep on their initial 53-man roster.

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