Vandervelde stays an Eagle after wild season
Former Hawkeye offensive lineman survives a stack of 2012 transactions, looks forward to '13 in Philly
These are good days for Julian Vandervelde.
The former University of Iowa offensive lineman is at home in Davenport, unlikely to see his name in the transactions list of a sports section’s agate page. Which is where he was so often during the 2012 NFL season.
And, he’s under contract to go to work for the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-straight year.
But after being a fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2011 and spending that entire season on the active roster, 2012 saw his status change constantly. The best thing about it was that he was never unemployed for more than a few days, and was always wanted by someone.
“Every other week I was a new transaction,” Vandervelde said Tuesday, “not sure where I’d really be. All you can do is stay positive and play football. ... You stay positive you give 100 percent wherever you wind up.
“It’s a confusing situation. But I was never worried whether or not I was going to have a job. I was always very confident in my own abilities, knew that I could play the game, knew I’d be somewhere doing something.”
Vandervelde went from the happiness of making the Eagles’ final preseason cuts to being released the next day when the team signed a needed defensive back.
“They told me that if I passed waivers they were going to bring me back on the practice squad and look for a chance to move me back up to the active roster,” he said.
But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers latched on to Vandervelde via waivers. They moved him to their practice squad. A month later, they released him. Almost immediately, he was claimed. By Philadelphia.
“I felt comfortable there,” he said. “I felt at home there. I liked the city. I liked the team, the program, and the people. Especially the food. It’s a great foodie city.
“I always kind of felt like I was going to wind up back in Philadelphia.”
So Vandervelde was on the practice squad with the Eagles for a month. Then, injuries to the team’s offensive line got him a call-up to the active roster. That lasted one week. The team signed veteran offensive lineman Jake Scott, who had 121 career NFL starts, and Scott finished out the season as the Eagles’ starting right guard.
Vandervelde finished out the season on the practice squad.
“It’s a significant pay-cut,” he said. “You make about one-sixth or one-seventh of what you make on the active roster.
“When I have friends calling me and asking me if I want to buy a boat, it’s kind of like ‘Nah, I’m good, man.’ It’s definitely not as glamorous as people think at that point.”
But he was still in the league, with a foot in the door. Now the deck has been shuffled with the Eagles in a huge way. Longtime head coach Andy Reid got fired, and his replacement is Chip Kelly, via Oregon. This excites Vandervelde.
“I really think I’ll fit into Chip Kelly’s scheme,” he said. “That will allow me to drop some weight, get back to probably my college playing weight. I’m a smart guy. I’ll pick up his system pretty easily, I think.
“A fresh start, a fresh coaching staff, everyone’s going to get a chance to start from zero. If I can jump out early and make an impact, hopefully I’ll finally get that shot to be activated and maybe get some playing time in a real game.”
You don’t get claimed and re-signed over and over if teams don’t see something good in you. Vandervelde will probably be able to buy that boat without worries in the future.
(To hear Vandervelde talk in more detail about his career, the NFL in general, his off-season pursuit of forming a heavy metal band, and his observations of former Hawkeye teammate Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens, go to my podcast at The Hlog.)