Eagles Wake-Up Call: What’s the Plan At WR?
Today’s question comes from Wayne, via Twitter:
@SheilKapadia Think Eagles will pick up a FA WR? Jennings? Bowe?
— Wayne Buehler (@waynebuehler3) March 17, 2015
Given all the others moves that the Eagles have made, the wide receiver situation has flown a bit under the radar.
Let’s start with who’s currently on the roster. Jordan Matthews had an excellent rookie campaign with 67 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, but he was exclusively a slot receiver in 2014. A question facing the Eagles going into 2015 is: Will Chip Kelly move Matthews outside?
If Maclin were here, Kelly might have been tempted to keep Matthews in the slot where he had so much success. But the guess here is that Matthews is now more likely to get a shot on the outside.
Riley Cooper is on the other side, and given that he’s guaranteed $3 million in 2015, he’s not going anywhere. Josh Huff is the other player to watch. The Eagles could be in a position where they’re counting on him to make the second-year leap.
The group of remaining free agents is not very interesting, headlined by Greg Jennings, Michael Crabtree and Dwayne Bowe. Given that the Eagles don’t have a ton of cap space to work with, it seems unlikely that they’re going to sign a wide receiver.
“We think in terms of our model that it’s a really good draft for wide receivers,” Kelly said last week. “We also have a lot of confidence in some of the guys. Jordan Matthews had an outstanding year for us as a rookie. He’s going into Year 2. Josh Huff, we’ve got a lot of high expectations for Josh. We’re excited about him. We have Riley Cooper back.
“We also have some tight ends that have a lot of flexibility. Zach Ertz is a multi-position player for us. And then we also have a swiss army knife in Darren Sproles who we can use in a lot of different ways. But again, we do think the draft is very talented from a wide receiver standpoint, so we’ll take a real good hard look at that also.”
In other words, Kelly isn’t sweating it.
The guess here is the Eagles will add a wide receiver in the draft. This year’s group is not considered as strong as last year’s, but is still supposed to be very good. Considering that the Eagles can get out of the Cooper contract in 2016, drafting a wide receiver makes sense for both the short-term and the long-term.
Guys like West Virginia’s Kevin White and Alabama’s Amari Cooper figure to be long gone by the time the Eagles pick at No. 20. I doubt the team would take a chance on Dorial Green-Beckham. But there are other quality options in the first couple rounds like Louisville’s DeVante Parker, Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong and Ohio State’s Devin Smith.
If the Eagles plan on moving Matthews outside, they could take a longer look at slot guys in the middle rounds.
One way or another, expect an addition to the wide receiver group come draft time.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Some thoughts on the report that the Browns offered the 19th overall pick for Sam Bradford. Warning: Don’t read if you’re Mariota’d out.
Mock draft roundup: After last week’s moves, who will the Eagles target at No. 20?
Great stuff from T-Mac with Joel Corry on what the Eagles’ recent moves mean for their salary cap situation.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice on a potential move-up for Mariota:
Let’s say the Eagles have to add their 1st round pick in 2016, and they’ll throw in linebacker Mychal Kendricks and slot corner Brandon Boykin for good measure. If you’re the Titans, are you turning down what could potentially be five new starters (three #1 picks and two good players) on a team, which oh by the way, is nowhere close to contention and could ruin a rookie QB anyway?
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz examines the Bradford vs. Nick Foles discussion:
Why Bradford over Foles? Bradford at his best is better than Foles at his best. Forget about the 2013 stats, we’re talking about actual performance. Foles doesn’t have the same kind of arm or accuracy. He doesn’t throw as well from the pocket or on the move. We do know Foles can thrive in this offense with the right guys around him. Kelly obviously thinks Bradford can do even better, but that is a projection. That’s the risk.
We talk a lot about durability in regard to Bradford and that’s a legitimate concern. But Foles has gotten hurt and missed at least one start in each of his 3 years. One of my concerns with committing to Foles long term was going to be his durability. Bradford has missed more time, but neither guy stays on the field enough. No matter who you went with, it was going to be critical to have a reliable backup.
We’ll have the second installment of our Three-And-Out piece examining the Eagles’ moves.