As rookie Mack Hollins stiffed-armed would-be tacklers out of his way to the end zone on Thursday night in Green Bay, he also might have sealed the deal to send Jordan Matthews to Buffalo.
While that's probably a bit of an overstatement, Hollins' emergence, as well as the overall depth of the Eagles' receiving corps made Matthews expendable — for the right price.
So Howie Roseman on Friday sent Matthews, along with a third-round pick in 2018, to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby.
"Last year at this time, from where the group was," Roseman said, "it would have been hard to do."
A year ago, Matthews was the only real receiver the Eagles had. He led a group that included Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.
Roseman spent this past offseason flipping the unit from a team weakness into a strength. He went out and signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and then drafted a couple of receivers in the spring.
He did such a good job that their top receiver from a year ago became superfluous.
"When you talk about the production Jordan has had, which has been really historically good for a Philadelphia Eagle, you have to be confident that other people can pick up that load," Roseman said. "We go with the information that we have since they’ve been in Eagles uniforms and that wide receiver group has been tremendously competitive throughout the spring and summer. We know we were going to have tough decisions to make."
Earlier in training camp, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah — who has ties in the Eagles' front office — said Agholor would become the team's slot receiver, but he didn't know what that meant for Matthews. It turns out, it meant that Matthews was getting shipped out.
Agholor, the former first-round pick, has had a disappointing start to his career. But now it seems like he's poised to take over in the slot for his recently-moved biggest advocate. Agholor has been impressive during training camp and should now get his chance to produce inside, a position that seems to better suit his abilities.
"Obviously, Nelson's had a really good spring and the young players have taken a step up, which is a great testament to our coaching staff," Roseman said. "We're excited about some of their futures."
While fifth-rounder Shelton Gibson has struggled during his first few months in the NFL, fourth-round pick Hollins from North Carolina has thrived. He's been impressive throughout the spring and summer.
And then on Thursday night, he took the next step, grabbing a pass from Carson Wentz and taking it 38 yards for a score, just the day before Matthews was dealt.
"Mack, since the day he's been here, has been tremendously consistent," Roseman said. "He's obviously a big kid with good speed. But Coach (Mike) Groh and our offensive coaching staff have done a great job with him on his routes, consistently catching the football. And really overall, when you look at that group, we have a bunch of young players that we're excited about."