June 16, 2017
During the 2016 offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on former New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle. In his two seasons combined before joining the Eagles, Randle had good numbers, catching 128 passes for 1735 yards and 11 TDs.
The concern with Randle wasn't size or talent. Rather, it was what was between his ears, as he developed a reputation as a poor route runner who was good for the occasional game-torpedoing dumb or lazy play. In Philly, it didn't take long to identify Randle as a player who was not giving good effort, and the team released him, eating $500,000 in guaranteed money.
This offseason, the Eagles once again took a chance on another formerly productive wide receiver in Torrey Smith. Just like with Randle, the Eagles signed Smith to a deal that included $500,000 in guaranteed money. Unlike Randle, Smith played well in OTAs and minicamp, and has demonstrated a level of professionalism that Randle did not.
"I'll tell you what, he's a pro," said wide receiver coach Mike Groh. "He goes about his business the right way each and every day. He's a wonderful influence on the room. He's still got that vertical speed. He's a threat down the field. That's the thing that he has really made his reputation on in the NFL.
"That skill is unique. It really compliments Alshon on the outside, and then having Nelson and then other guys that are out there in the huddle with him, really makes us difficult to defend."
The Eagles were willing to take a modest cap hit to send Randle packing last year on a team that lacked sufficient talent at wide receiver. This year, however, even with better personnel in place, Smith isn't going anywhere.
On a side note, I don't know if it's interesting that Groh mentioned Nelson Agholor instead of Jordan Matthews, or if that was just because Matthews hasn't practiced in a while, so he's out of sight, out of mind.
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