Fan-favorite Steven Means was one of the bigger surprises when the Eagles' roster cuts were announced late Saturday afternoon, and Howie Roseman said it was wasn't easy to say goodbye to the inspirational leader.
Means was one of a small group of players remaining from the Chip Kelly era, and his terrific personality and boundless energy made him one of the more popular guys on the team both inside the locker room and among fans.
Means, a 27-year-old defensive end, had four sacks this preseason, including three in the preseason finale against the Jets just two days before he was released.
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Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, said Means was the final player the Eagles released, which means he was agonizingly close to sticking.
But the Eagles have so many talented pass rushers, and Roseman knows that he has to take personal emotion out of the equation when finalizing the roster.
"Steven was the last cut, and I think because of what he means as a person and a player, (it was) really hard," Roseman said.
"Hard one. Again, I think for us, as we get going here, you have to think about where we are from a roster perspective and where we are on the 46 (gameday roster) and what we need to give our coaches the best chance to win this week and the weeks going forward."
The Eagles kept five defensive ends, including a 21-year-old fourth-round pick from Florida State, Josh Sweat, who was simply too talented to risk losing on the waiver wire.
Also on the 53 are Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Chris Long, who were on the Super Bowl team last year, and Michael Bennett.
"We're deep at some positions that are hard to find, and at the same time, it doesn't make it any easier," Roseman said. "Incredible person, a guy who's meant a lot to us on and off the field, and [it was] a tough one."
Means was originally a fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers out of Buffalo back in 2013. He played for Tampa in 2013, Tampa and the Ravens in 2014 before spending much of 2015 on the Texans' practice squad.
The Eagles signed Means late in the 2015 season, giving him the roster spot that opened up when they released Miles Austin.
He played in eight games in 2016 and six last year and had one sack per season in limited snaps (36 in 2016, 53 in 2017).
He didn't play in the postseason but earned a Super Bowl ring after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Means' release means there are only six players on the 53-man roster who joined the Eagles during Kelly's head coaching regime. The others are Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson (2013), Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles (2014) and Nelson Agholor and Jordan Hicks (2015). Chris Maragos, who was placed on the Reserve/PUP Saturday, also joined the Eagles in 2014.