Andrew Kulp

Looking back fondly on Torrey Smith’s Eagles tenure

AP Images

Looking back fondly on Torrey Smith’s Eagles tenure

Everybody knew Torrey Smith was a goner. That doesn’t mean Eagles fans should be quick to forget the veteran wide receiver, either.

The team may not have won the Super Bowl without him.

Was Smith the oft-targeted vertical threat the Eagles envisioned? Almost certainly not. Was he the second or third or even fourth option throughout last season? Can’t honestly say that.

Are the Eagles going to miss Torrey Smith?

Maybe a little.

Traded to the Panthers for Daryl Worley on Friday, Smith’s departure was preordained. Known as somewhat of a one-trick pony, it was going to be difficult to live up to the $5 million salary he was paid. The Eagles are up against the salary cap, and he signed a contract that acted as a series of one-year deals, making for a convenient break.

Smith wasn’t even elite in the one area he was supposed to make a difference – going deep. The 29-year-old finished 2017 with 36 receptions for 430 yards, a pedestrian 11.9 average, two touchdowns, and a string of memorable dropped passes.

It was not the type of campaign that endears a professional athlete to the masses, least of all in the city of Philadelphia. Yet, when it mattered most, Smith delivered.

During the regular season, Smith was frequently irrelevant or seemingly absent from the game plan entirely. Once the playoffs rolled around, however, he was the No. 2 wideout the Eagles thought they were getting all along.

Smith racked up 13 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown in three postseason games, making at least one notable play in each.

Against the Falcons, Smith’s awareness proved key, turning a deflected pass into a 20-yard catch to help set up a key field goal before halftime. He made one of the plays of the year against the Vikings, hauling in a 41-yard flea-flicker and staying inbounds to cap a rout in the NFC Championship. Then in the Super Bowl, Smith set the tone on the Eagles’ opening drive with a 15-yard helmet catch reminiscent of David Tyree – arguably one of the 10 biggest plays of the game.

By the time the season was over, any frustrations there might’ve been with Smith’s performance were addressed with huge, clutch plays when they counted.

Chances are people will forget Smith even played for the Eagles as time passes. It was a mostly forgettable season, finishing eight games with one or zero receptions.

That’s not the way it should go down. Smith was a regular and valuable contributor during the Eagles’ postseason run. They don’t necessarily win two of those three games without him.

The drops are what stick out to some people, along with the calls to replace him and his general lack of impact most weeks. But Smith was a great presence in the locker room all year, then became a legitimate weapon in the playoffs.

His departure was necessary and inevitable, but Smith’s time with the Eagles should be remembered fondly.

9 thoughts on Eagles' blockbuster trade for Michael Bennett

9 thoughts on Eagles' blockbuster trade for Michael Bennett

The Eagles were overwhelmingly declared victorious in the trade for Michael Bennett, reportedly sending a fifth-round pick and Marcus Johnson to the Seahawks for the Pro Bowl defensive end and a seventh-round pick (see story). More details on the brilliant move here.

1. You can’t argue the cost. The Eagles are low on picks in the upcoming draft, but fifth-rounders rarely pan out. Johnson was on the roster bubble to begin with. They gave up next to nothing for a player who is coming off his third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.

2. Bennett finished tied for 25th in the NFL with 8½ sacks in 2017, yet was more disruptive than his ranking might indicate. Just 15 players recorded better than his 14 tackles for loss, and he cracked the top 10 with 24 quarterback hits. The only other players with at least as many sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hits: Calais Campbell, Aaron Donald, Chandler Jones, Cameron Jordan, Demarcus Lawrence and Melvin Ingram.

3. There is minimal risk. Oh, there are a number of ways in which this trade could backfire. Bennett turns 33 in November, and he’s a character, to say the least. Worst case scenario: his performance declines or he wears out his welcome, and the Eagles move on after 2018. Technically, Bennett is under contract through 2020, but the club isn’t on the hook for any guaranteed money.

4. As far as the notion of Bennett’s decline is concerned, the trade could wind up extending his career instead.

5. Beyond this season, Bennett is signed at a seemingly reasonable base salary of $6 million for 2019. However, with no guaranteed money over the final two years of the deal, the outspoken pass rusher might be inclined to make some noise about his contract next offseason.

6. Swapping Vinny Curry for Bennett will provide some cap relief — assuming that’s what happens here — but the savings are actually mild. While Bennett’s salary for ‘18 is $1.65 million, he’s due $4 million in the form of a roster bonus on March 18, plus can earn an additional $1 million through per game bonuses. Add it up, and the cap hit is between $5.65 and $6.65 million — let’s call it $6 million. If Curry is released with the post-June 1 designation, the Eagles will create $9 million in savings. The net difference is $3 million, give or take. That’s not an insignificant amount, but it’s no game-changer, either.

7. Despite some lean years, everybody can agree Curry is a quality player, and though he turns 30 in June, his best may be yet to come (more on him here). Bennett is simply cheaper and better.

8. Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman is running circles around other GMs.

9. It can be dangerous to make sweeping assertions about a team’s plan based on one transaction, but acquiring Bennett suggests the Eagles will do everything in their power to repeat as Super Bowl champions. With Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett already at defensive end, nobody would’ve faulted the front office for going with a far cheaper solution. Instead, the Eagles found an upgrade and still managed to save a few bucks. They’re really going for it.

Former Eagles player set to be contestant on The Bachelorette

ABC / USA Today Images

Former Eagles player set to be contestant on The Bachelorette

Clay Harbor is an unrestricted free agent in more ways than one. The former Eagles tight end will try to land with another NFL team next week — and attempt to win the heart of Becca K. when The Bachelorette airs beginning in May.

After her engagement to longtime Indy driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. ended in controversy on national TV this week, Becca was announced as the star of the upcoming season of ABC's reality dating game show. Harbor then revealed himself as one of 25 contestants who will be looking for love, according to RealitySteve, and should he prove to be the cream of the crop, perhaps finish with a proposal of his own.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Harbor played for the Eagles for three seasons before moving on to the Jaguars, Patriots, Lions then Saints. He spent last season on injured reserve.

Harbor isn't the only one getting over some serious pain. Becca's breakup was brutal and difficult to watch. Arie got down on one knee at the end of this past season of The Bachelor, only to turn around six weeks later and dump his fiance in front of the cameras, much to the dismay of viewers. He then turned around and proposed to the show's runner-up, Lauren, the day after that footage aired.

What a jerk! Or so I've heard anyway. Wouldn't know anything about it...

With 114 receptions for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns in eight seasons, it's unclear whether Harbor will get another job in the NFL. With shooting for The Bachelorette set to begin this month, it seems he may be willing to put his football career on hold if it means finding love with Becca.

If nothing else, Harbor can join Freddie Mitchell and Hank Baskett in the ranks of Eagles legends who scored roles as leading men in reality TV shows.