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As news broke Sunday night that Jeremy Maclin would be joining former coach Andy Reid in Kansas City, the Eagles were left with a dilemma at the wide receiver position. Losing Maclin, a Pro Bowler last season, was one of the last things that the Eagles could have ill afforded to let happen. But, Chip Kelly and his brain trust did not feel Maclin was worth whatever money the Chiefs and Big Red are throwing at him.
So what to do the Eagles do about their wide receiver core that is headlined by Riley Cooper and a pair second year wide outs in Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff? That trio, combined with Jeff Maehl, combined last season for just 135 receptions, 1,593 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Maclin alone recorded a line of 85 catches, 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In free agency, the top wide receivers have already been signed or tagged. Both Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are staying in Denver and Dallas, respectfully. The top receivers on the market, besides Maclin, were Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith. Cobb re-signed in Green Bay while Smith is rumored to be heading to San Francisco. The next group of wide outs are in the Michael Crabtree, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker and Brian Hartline, none of which are game breakers, and all are more number two or slot receivers at this point in their careers.
Where the Eagles may luck out is from teams that have yet to make moves. Teams like the Texans, Jets, and Dolphins all have receivers that will not be on their respective teams this year. Houston has already let it be known that Andre Johnson could be had for the right price. Johnson, a future Hall-of-Famer, may no longer have breakaway speed, but did finish last season with 85 receptions, 936 yards and three touchdowns.
In New York, the Jets have all been announced that Percy Harvin will become a free agent after the acquisition of Brandon Marshall last week.. Harvin is due a $10.5 million salary for 2015. The former Florida Gator has had an enigmatic and injury-prone career, but his talent is undeniable. Despite being a headache, while also suffering from migraines, Harvin could be a special player in Chip Kelly’s offense, similar to what DeSean Jackson was in 2013.
Then there is Miami, which provides the most intriguing of prospects. The Dolphins have not yet indicating that they would be willing to release Mike Wallace, but they have certainly made it known that the speedster is on the trade market. Despite his big contract ($12.6 million cap hit), the Mississippi product is a game changer. He has speed to burn and would provide a certifiable deep threat that the Eagles lost in the release of Jackson.
Until the aforementioned teams make a move with their unhappy wide receivers, the Eagles are left to troll a barren market for wide outs. So the Birds must look towards the draft, again, to restock a cupboard that once was full of players like Jackson and Maclin. Until then, fans must trust in Chip and wait to see how he navigates the free agent waters now that he lost his latest Pro Bowl receiving threat.