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March 11, 2017

What they're saying about the Eagles: Free agent wide receivers edition

Eagles NFL

It was a busy start to free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles, but in few days since they signed wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, things have really started to quiet down at the NovaCare complex.

Sure, there are still free agents out there – and we'll keep you updated on the latest happenings around the NFL, specifically when they relate to the Birds – but in the meantime, we thought it'd be a good idea to catch up on some news and notes with another "what they're saying" post.

Typically when we do these, the "they" in that phrase is the media – and there will still be some of that. But since there's a pair of new faces in town who figure to play a prominent role in quarterback Carson Wentz's development, we thought it might be a good idea to check in with them and hear what they have to say.

So before we get into what others are saying about the Eagles, let's take a look at what two of the newest Eagles are saying about their quarterback. [SPOILER ALERT: It was overwhelmingly positive.]

IS WENTZ A FUTURE MVP?

Alshon Jeffery | Eagles wide receiver

It was reported on Thursday night that Jeffery picked the Eagles' one-year offer over a longer, more substantial deal from the Vikings because he liked the prospect of playing with Carson Wentz

On Friday, we heard it straight from his own mouth, and the praise was even greater than Rapoport's tweet suggested.

"[Wentz] had a lot to do with it. Like I told him, the sky is the limit for him. Me and him texted back and forth and I told him that my job is to help him win the MVP, which I truly believe. The sky is the limit for him. He’s a great quarterback."

"He said that 'I don’t really care about MVPs; I want to win championships’. I was like that’s the right mindset, the right attitude."

That's some kind of Inception-like compliment. A compliment within a compliment. It's like Jeffery is humble-bragging on Wentz's behalf – and wasting no time getting on his new QB's good side. 

But that wasn't the only thing Jeffery said Friday that had Eagles fans salivating. More on that in a bit, but while we're on the subject of Wentz's new wideouts heaping praise on him...

'HE HAS THAT 'IT' FACTOR'

Torrey Smith | Eagles wide receiver

Alshon wasn't alone in is opinion of Wentz. Smith also said the young quarterback played a role in his decision to sign with the Eagles. But it's not just one player. Smith said that while a few teams had shown interest, he felt like the Eagles were the right fit. A big part of that was his belief that the organization "is moving in the right direction." 

"There’s potential here to be something special, and I want to be part of that," Smith added.

Smith's assessment of Wentz, while not going as far as calling him a future MVP, was similar to that of his new teammate. And because of where he played last season – the San Fransisco 49ers – Smith was able to watch more than a few Eagles games.

“We all watch games. You have an advantage on the West Coast because everyone is playing early while you’re still relaxing, so I’ve watched Carson play from a distance and you can see that he has that ‘it’ factor

Obviously, he’s still young so he’s not perfect, but I know that he has the potential to get it done and to be able to play with a guy like that and also grow with him and help him in other ways, I’m looking forward to it.”

It seems like both Smith and Jeffery are already fighting over which one is going to be Wentz's new BFF. I wonder if anyone's told Jordan Matthews...

'THIS CITY NEEDS A CHAMPIONSHIP'

Alshon Jeffery | Eagles wide receiver

Jeffery revealed in a story on The Players' Tribune titled "Moving On" that he recently watched Invincible and, well, I'll let him explain it to you. After all, it's what they're saying, not what Matt's saying.

I actually just watched the movie Invincible a couple of months ago. You remember that scene where Mark Wahlberg scores a touchdown at the old Veterans Stadium, and he holds his arms out to celebrate, and all you can see in front of him are the fans going nuts and wearing that old-school Eagles green and white.

That’s what I imagine it’s going to feel like playing at the Linc.

I know. Real life rarely lives up to what you see in the movies.

But I have a feeling Philly fans can do it.  [theplayerstribune.com]

Jeffery was asked about the film during his press conference on Friday. More specifically, he was asked what he knows about football fans in this city. Remember cat-nip for Eagles fans that I promised earlier? Enjoy.

"Die-hard fans. I think we played here three years ago and they really gave it to us. They gave us hell," Jeffery said. "They're passionate about their city. This city needs a championship, wants a championship. It's a must."

Don't say I didn't warn you...

HOW JEFFERY, SMITH WILL OPEN UP OFFENSE

Fran Duffy | PhiladelphiaEagles.com

Earlier on Saturday, Jimmy Kempski wrote about how the varying skill-sets the Eagles now have in their starting wide receivers – Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews – should benefit Carson Wentz in his second season.

Over on the Eagles site, film-breakdown guru Fran Duffy took a look at how their two newest wideouts will open up the offense, and not just because of their ability to stretch the field. Here's a small sample:

As I continued studying these two receivers, it became apparent that both were very adept at using their bodies to their advantage, despite the fact that they’re built very differently. Down the sideline, both players do a great job of giving the quarterback room on the outside to drop the football in over the shoulder, a technique that’s called "holding the red line." The imaginary "red line" between the numbers and the sideline is where the receiver should be running along on these vertical routes. It requires both strength and discipline as well as ball skills to be able to hold the line downfield, run through contact at times, and then reel the pass in over the shoulder for the completion. Jeffery and Smith do just that in the plays above.  [philadelphiaeagles.com]

It's definitely worth a read, especially if you were frustrated by the play of the Eagles wideouts last season. So, yeah, pretty much everyone.

THEY OFFERED THEM WHAT?

Mike Florio | ProFootballTalk

This report comes from Mike Florio, and given that Cooks is now with the Patriots and the Eagles landed Jeffery, people aren't likely going to care as much about how interested the Eagles were in acquiring the young wideout from the Saints. 

But because of the other name attached to it – Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Saints – it certainly caught my attention, even if it didn't really make a whole lot sense.

Before the Saints agreed to trade receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, the Saints had other offers. One offer came from the Eagles.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Eagles offered safety Malcolm Jenkins, a third-round pick, and a fourth-round pick for Cooks. The Saints wanted a second-round pick plus Jenkins.  [profootballtalk.com]

Here's what Kempski wrote about this report when he added it to our NFL Free Agency Tracker:

That doesn't pass the smell test even a little. To begin, Jenkins is better player than Cooks. So there's that. But also, Jenkins just signed a contract extension last offseason. If the Eagles were to trade him, they would have $6 million in dead money. And they offered a three and four to go along with him?

Makes sense. The explanation, not the original report.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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