Eagles Free Agent Outlook: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Image courtesy of NJ.com

Image courtesy of NJ.com

Over the next few days, Pattison Ave will be addressing the Eagles free agents needs while evaluating each position.

Current positions addressed: Wide Receiver and Tight End.

Despite the successful rookie season of Jordan Matthews (67-872-8), the Eagles wide receiving and tight end units failed to impress. Fellow rookie receiver Josh Huff showed little offensively, meanwhile, the Eagles spent $22.5 million on a five-year contract with $10 million guaranteed, to re-sign Riley Cooper, which now looks like a colossal bust of a contract. Cooper finished the year with 55 receptions, 577 yards, and three touchdowns.

Prime breakout candidate Zach Ertz struggled to see the field, finishing the season with a line of 58-702-3. Despite his ability to create mismatches offensively with his 6’5″ and 250 pounds frame, he lost snaps to incumbent Brent Celek. The Eagles have already cut ties with James Casey, while his special teams and third-string tight end duties will fall on Trey Burke. Tight end does not appear to be a need for Philadelphia.

Where the Eagles did hit on was Jeremy Maclin. Maclin, coming off a torn ACL, his second such injury, bet on himself, and signed a one-year, $5.25 million dollar deal. Not only did the Missouri native excel, he reached or tied career highs in every category, including receptions (85), targets (143), yards (1,318), average yards per catch (15.5), and touchdowns (10). What Maclin did was set himself up for a big payday.

The former Missouri Tiger enters the free agent market as the number one wide receiver, after Philadelphia chose not follow suit with Denver (Demaryius Thomas) and Dallas (Dez Bryant), and apply the franchise tag to Maclin. Had the team tagged Maclin, he would have been in line for a one-year, $12.8 million contract. The Eagles chose against the franchise, or transition tag, and will allow Maclin to test the market, unless the player and team can come to terms on a deal prior to March 10.

If the Eagles and Maclin are unable to come to a deal, which Adam Caplan stated on ESPN that “that thing is not close,” the Birds will have to wade through free agency and the draft to find a replacement for the number one receiver.

Here are some players that could replace, or compliment Maclin, in Philadelphia.

  • Randall Cobb: It appears Green Bay has bowed out of the Cobb sweepstakes, noting that his price tag could reach upwards of $10 million per season. If the Eagles let Maclin walk, Cobb could be the eventually replacement. Playing primarily out of the slot, the former Kentucky quarterback set career highs in receptions (91), yards (1,287), and touchdowns (12).
  • Denarius Moore: Moore has had an up-and-down career, spending the first four years with the Raiders. He has the upside to be a very good wide receiver, but is wildly inconsistent. If Chip Kelly believes that his offense is plug-and-play, the 5th year veteran may be a nice gamble. Moore’s best season came in 2012, where he started 15 games and put up a stat line of 51-741-7.
  • Torrey Smith: Smith has all the tools needed to be a special wide receiver, but he remains inconsistent. Despite being in a contract year, the former Maryland Terrapin caught just 49 passes. However, he did catch a career high 11 touchdowns. Despite questionable hands (six dropped passes in 92 attempts), Smith has elusive speed and big play potential, which will reward the Virginia native with a handsome payday.

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