February 12, 2020
Welcome to the offseason of wide receivers for the Eagles.
Sure, the team has Alshon Jeffery under contract for two more seasons and they went out and signed a big-name free agent last season in DeSean Jackson. They also spent a second-round pick on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside last year and still have one of the best tight end combos in the NFL. So, why the huge need at wideout?
Well, anyone who watched the Eagles last season can answer that question. First, Jackson was unable to stay healthy, which shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone familiar with the 33-year-old's career. Alshon Jeffery similarly couldn't stay healthy, and he wasn't great even when he was. There's a growing belief that the Birds, who will also likely let Nelson Agholor walk in free agency, could try to move on from him this season. JJAW was an absolute bust as a rookie. And by the time the playoffs rolled around, Greg Ward was WR1 for Carson Wentz. That's not going to get it done.
The good news is that the Eagles should have plenty of options this offseason. The draft is loaded. And, as always, there will be quite a few players available in free agency ... if the price is right.
And one of those pending free agents, Chiefs wideout Demarcus Robinson, could be a fit in Philly. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Robinson is on the Eagles' radar.
It may have slipped under the radar on Super Bowl Sunday — obviously, most people's attention was focused elsewhere — but with the NFL offseason getting underway, it's something that's worth revisiting again, especially since there are so many other outlets now commenting on Robinson's fit with the Eagles as free agency approaches.
Here's what McLane wrote 10 days ago about the Eagles' potential interest in Robinson:
Nevertheless, the Eagles could have another opportunity to snag Robinson. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next month, and per NFL sources, Roseman and company have the 25-year-old receiver in their sights...
Kansas City will likely make a play to keep their guy, but Robinson should have multiple suitors. The Chiefs also have Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mercole Hardman under contract for 2020. Even if Watkins, who has a large salary cap number, goes it should be hard to keep Robinson.
His statistics don’t pop off the page, but Robinson has been mired behind Hill on the depth chart. In four seasons, he has 75 catches for 949 yards and eight touchdowns. But when Hill missed four games this season with an injury, Robinson caught 16 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns. [inquirer.com]
On Tuesday, our own Jimmy Kempski listed Robinson as one of three free agents who make sense for the Eagles. Here's some of what Jimmy had to say about the 25-year-old wideout:
Robinson was suspended four times during his college career at Florida, but he has seemingly kept out of trouble in his first four years in the NFL. Back in 2016, the Eagles brought in Robinson for a pre-draft visit, but the Chiefs snagged him in the fourth round of that draft. Of course, the Eagles had a limited number of early picks in that draft, as a result of trading up to grab Carson Wentz...
Playing in an offense with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman, Robinson has not had many starting opportunities, but he still managed to carve out a role as yet another playmaker for Patrick Mahomes. While Robinson only ran a 4.59 at the 2016 Combine, he was thought of as a prospect with good speed, and that has shown up at the next level...
At just 25 years of age, Robinson is an ascending player, and his best years could lie ahead.
Of course, there are plenty of other options for the Birds this offseason, both in free agency and the draft, as this class is expected to be loaded with wideout talent. With that in mind, let's take a look at what the local and national media has to say about the Birds with NFL free agency just over a month away.
Over at CBS Sports, Cody Benjamin took a look at a few other free agent wide receiver targets for the Eagles (in addition to Robinson). Some of the names should look familiar to PhillyVoice readers, as Jimmy's already mentioned Robby Anderson and, more recently, Breshad Perriman as two potential options for the Eagles in free agency.
Let's take a look at one receiver from each of Cody's categories, one top-tier guy, Amari Cooper, who Jimmy wrote about on Wednesday, and one mid-level guy like Phillip Dorsett.
Player: Amari Cooper
Current team: Dallas Cowboys
If Roseman is going to make a splash, and if that splash is going to be on offense, then Cooper should be the guy. Teams will surely line up to pay the ex-Oakland Raiders star if Dallas doesn't, but no one would infuse immediate and long-term hope into the position more than him. The Eagles could conceivably talk themselves into an overpay because of how young Cooper is, and it's not as if they weren't interested in him before. NFL Network once reported they offered a second-round draft pick to try to land him in 2018.
Player: Phillip Dorsett
Current team: New England Patriots
It's all a matter of perspective with Dorsett. If you think you can still salvage his first-round reputation, well, that's one thing. It's another to simply buy him for what he is: An occasional big-play target with plenty of experience. The ex-Indianapolis Colts starter has never locked down a permanent, full-time role, but in spot duty, he's been capable of stretching the field. [cbssports.com]
According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles will have about $41 million to spend this offseason — and possibly more depending on any surprise cuts — and that's a good thing considering GM Howie Roseman has his sights set on remaking the roster in 2020. Of course, the Eagles also have a lot of pending free agents themselves they'll need to decide on before they can go shopping for new guys.
Here's a look at where they stand heading into free agency and a few moves they could make based on the players they'll likely be losing in free agency...
Projected cap space: $40.9 million
Players to target: WR Breshad Perriman, WR Robby Anderson, CB Eli Apple, CB Trae Waynes, S Anthony Harris
Soon-to-be unrestricted free agents: T Jason Peters, S Rodney McLeod, WR Nelson Agholor, CB Ronald Darby, DI Timmy Jernigan, RB Jordan Howard, EDGE Vinny Curry, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai, CB Jalen Mills, QB Josh McCown, QB Nate Sudfeld
Potential cuts: None that stand out
Philadelphia’s wide receivers produced the worst receiving grade in the NFL in 2019. With the $40 million at their disposal, they have to add a wide receiver. Robby Anderson is an intriguing option for the Eagles — he’s racked up the 11th most receiving yards on 20-plus yard targets since 2016 and did so while seeing just a 41% catchable target rate on those deep passes (eighth lowest). He won’t win in contested situations, but he can torch you with his speed and would be a nice compliment to Alshon Jeffery. Jason Peters highlights the Eagles' crop of soon-to-be free agents, and while he might be 38, he was still the sixth highest graded tackle of 2019. Peters has said he still has another year left in the tank, so the Eagles should act on that. Both Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills will enter free agency, and considering they were 110th an 99th in PFF grade among cornerbacks in 2019, respectively, it might be best to pursue other options. Neither Eli Apple nor Trae Waynes have quite proven themselves yet, but they were both average to above-average in PFF grade, ranking 61t and 44th, respectively. They’ll both likely receive one-year, prove-it deals and who knows — they might finally break out with the Eagles. Either way, they would be an incredible upgrade from what we saw out of Philadelphia’s corners in 2019. [pff.com]
In addition to free agency, the Eagles should have plenty of wideout options in the draft, which is loaded at the position. And one of the guys who make sense for Philly is Laviska Shenault Jr. Why?
Everybody has their idea which WR the Eagles should go for in the first round, if that’s the plan. From 18 years of covering the team, I think Laviska Shenault might be their guy, for two reasons: 1. Hard-to-spell name. 2. Gets hurt a lot.— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) February 12, 2020
I really think I’ve cracked the code.
But seriously, there is real reason to like the Colorado product, who recently got some good news on the injury front and reportedly won't need surgery to fix his groin injury.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault won't need surgery on his nagging groin injury, per league sources. And he still is hoping to participate at the Combine.https://t.co/ztrbRe9o0M— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 12, 2020
That means that Shenault, who was also dealing with a core muscle injury this past season, is hoping to participate in both the NFL Combine and Colorado's pro day next month.
Here more on where Shenault might go and why the Eagles should have interest.
Shenault is projected to be among the second-tier of wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft class. With a stacked class at the position, 5-6 wide receivers could be selected in the first round.
Shenault is likely to be considered with the likes of Clemson’s Tee Higgins and TCU’s Jalen Reagor, who are slotted behind Alabama’s Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb in the wide receiver prospect pecking order.
Shenault is a jack-of-all-trades playmaker, who can score from anywhere on the field. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver can play outside receiver, slot receiver, wildcat quarterback and running back.
He produced 1,943 receiving yards, 280 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns during his three seasons with the Buffaloes. [nj.com]
Wide receiver won't be the only area of need for the Eagles this offseason. Over at NBC Sports Philly, Dave Zangaro took a look at five defensive tackles possibilities for the Birds, who will still have Fletcher Cox and a (hopefully) healthy Malik Jackson but could lose Tim Jernigan and Hassan Ridgeway to free agency.
Two of the names on the list are familiar, one because of his former status as the most feared DT in the NFL and the other because, well, he won a Super Bowl in Philly.
Sure, he’s a big name but Suh is 33 now, so we’re not talking about a long-term solution. But as a rotational piece behind Cox and Jackson, he might make some sense at the right price. There’s obviously familiarity with Jim Schwartz. Suh was drafted by the Lions in 2010 and played his first four NFL seasons in his defense. If Suh is chasing a ring, Philly might be a nice fit.
After two years in Tampa Bay, Allen is set to become a free agent and a reunion in Philly would make some sense. He has never been a big pass-rush interior lineman but would be a nice complement for Cox and Jackson because of that. He’s still just 28 so there’s some tread left on the tires. While the Eagles at times have been too quick to go back to the well, Allen would actually fit a need and wouldn’t cost much. [nbcsports.com]
Over at ESPN's NFL Nation, each beat reporter offered up one player on the team who would most benefit from a change of scenery. For the Eagles, that was once-promising CB Sidney Jones, who fell out of favor with the Eagles last season and was a healthy scratch several times.
CB Sidney Jones
He was touted as one of the premier corners in the 2017 draft before rupturing his Achilles at his pro day. Injuries have since been a part of his story, preventing him from becoming the fully confident player that his position demands. He has plenty of ability, but a a reset might just be what the doctor ordered. [espn.com]
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