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September 17, 2018

It sure sounds like the Eagles are going to add a wide receiver

In the Philadelphia Eagles' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Birds were missing their No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 receivers -- Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, and Mack Hollins -- after Wallace suffered a broken leg.

As a result, as you all saw on Sunday, the Eagles' passing game just wasn't quite the same with guys like DeAndre Carter, Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson, and Josh Perkins getting meaningful snaps on the outside.

With news that Wallace is out indefinitely, the Eagles need help. In his Monday morning press conference, Doug Pederson didn't bother hiding the obvious. He acknowledged that the team needed to bring in a receiver from outside of the organization.

"It goes back to us always and constantly looking outside to help bring in some guys," Pederson said. "I think a veteran player would be a lot easier to work with than a young, rookie player, to get him caught up. Plus a guy that has game experience. We’re definitely going to have to rely on the tight ends more. We’re going to have to rely on the running game a little bit more, and kind of lean in that direction until we can figure this out."

There are several names out there who could be available to the Eagles, including former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, current Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon, and free agent Kenny Britt. Let's take a look at all three.

Dez Bryant

There was once a time when Bryant was thought of as one of the five best players at his position in the NFL. In April, the Dallas Cowboys released him in a move to create salary cap space.

Bryant was a huge name in the NFC East for almost a decade who was at his best from 2012 to 2014, a three-year span during which he averaged 91 receptions for 1,311 yards and 14 TDs. Over the last three seasons from 2015 to 2017, however, Bryant has averaged 50 catches for 678 yards and 6 TDs. In chart form, because why not:

 Dez Bryant yearly averagesRec Yards YPC TD 
2012-2014 91 1,311 14.4 14 
 2015-2017 50 678 13.6 

Bryant had a total of 150 catches on 300 targets over the last three seasons, for a completion percentage of 50 percent when balls came his way. When Cowboys quarterbacks threw in another direction over that same span, they completed 67.9 percent of their passes.

So, should the Eagles sign him? No, they decidedly should not, unless he came at some sort of absurdly low cost. Is that possible? Eh, I wouldn't completely rule it out, for three reasons:

  1. After his release, Bryant's immediate emotional reaction was to say that he wanted to play in the NFC East so that he could face his former team twice per season.
  2. The Eagles' newly hired wide receivers coach, Gunter Brewer, was Bryant's wide receiver coach when he was in college at Oklahoma State.
  3. The Eagles just won the Super Bowl, which attracts players seeking postseason opportunities.

But ultimately, while Bryant wouldn't cost anything in terms of draft pick compensation, the guess here is that he isn't going to sign for some kind of low-money deal, and the Eagles simply don't have money to spend, nor should they on Bryant even if they did.

Josh Gordon

Gordon is an extremely talented player and still only 27 years old, but has not been able to keep off-the field issues (weed, mainly) from derailing his career. Gordon's NFL numbers:

 YearRec Yards YPC TD 
 201250 805 16.1 
 201387 1646 18.9 
 201424 303 12.6 
 201718 335 18.6 
 201817 17.0 
 TOTAL180 3106 17.3 16 

To note, in 2013, when Gordon racked up 1,696 receiving yards on 18.9 yards per catch, he did so with a combination of Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer as his quarterbacks. A highlight reel from that season:

That's the player the Browns have been waiting for patiently for years to resurface, before they finally decided to move on from him last week. While the Browns have not yet officially released Gordon, he's clearly not going to be on the team much longer, and is available for trade.

In 2018, he'll only count for $790,000 against the cap, further increasing his value. Obviously, however, if a team like the Browns is finally giving up on him, the Eagles would have to thoroughly investigate whether or not he can fit in with the culture of the team.

From a football standpoint, Gordon would be an outstanding fit, as he can stretch the field, which would help open up the intermediate areas of the field for guys like Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor.

It's also worth noting that Gordon was recently dealing with a hamstring injury, so if the Eagles were to add him, he might not even be able to play right away.

UPDATE: The Patriots may be in on Gordon.

Kenny Britt

After seemingly a new arrest every other week early in his career, Britt became a more stable person off the field in recent years, and a more productive player on it, for one year, anyway.

In 2016, Britt caught 68 passes for 1,002 yards and 5 TDs in a bad Rams offense. His 68 catches and 1,002 yards were highs over a nine-year career. In 12 games last year with the Browns and Patriots, Britt came back down to Earth, catching 20 passes for 256 yards (12.8 YPC) and 2 TDs.

Despite Britt's long NFL tenure (comparatively speaking), he is still only 29 years old. This option would of course have the least amount of sizzle, but Britt would likely come cheap, and wouldn't cost anything in terms of draft pick compensation.

Surprise receiver

And then, of course, as always, Howie Roseman will certainly work the phones. Nobody saw the trade for Jay Ajayi coming last year. Roseman could certainly pull off a deal for receiver not currently on anyone's radar.

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