Alshon Jeffery

Jordan Matthews reportedly signing with the Patriots

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Jordan Matthews reportedly signing with the Patriots

Jordan Matthews' third NFL stop looks a lot more promising than his second.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the former Eagles wide reciever is signing with the New England Patriots.

Matthews' single season with the Bills was a disappointing one, as he dealt with injuries to his thumb and knee. He had just 25 catches and one touchdown in his lone season in Buffalo. 

A second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2014, Matthews had 225 catches, 2,673 recieving yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons with the Eagles. 

However, after signing Alshon Jeffery in the offseason, the Eagles traded Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick in August 2017 in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Jeffery and Darby earned Super Bowl rings in their first year in Philadelphia. Now, Matthews is joining the defending AFC champs and looking for a ring of his own.

Eagles' heavy lifting in free agency came already

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Eagles' heavy lifting in free agency came already

While the Eagles are expected to fly under the radar — Haloti Ngata aside — a little bit during free agency thanks to limited cap space, it’s important to remember they’ve already done a lot of their heavy lifting. 

During their Super Bowl season, Howie Roseman locked up WR Alshon Jeffery and DT Tim Jernigan with four-year contract extensions, keeping them in Philly through the 2021 season. 

If the Birds didn’t do that, Jeffery and Jernigan would top the list of 16 soon-to-be free agents from the Super Bowl team and there would probably be a lot more panic among Eagles fans, especially after seeing some numbers roll in on Tuesday morning. 

Two of the top receivers on the free agent market reportedly agreed to new contracts the day before free agency officially opens, according to NFL Network. First, the Chiefs signed Sammy Watkins to a three-year deal worth $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed. And the Bears signed Allen Robinson to a three-year deal worth $42 million, with around $25 million guaranteed. 

While Jeffery didn’t put up monster numbers in 2017, his deal with the Eagles is looking more like a slight bargain now. Jeffery’s four-year deal — signed on Dec. 2 — is worth $52.25 million, with $27.25 million guaranteed, according to OverTheCap. 

So Watkins’ average annual salary is $16M, Robinson’s is $14M and Jeffery’s is just over $13M. 

Now, it’s fair to point out that Jeffery just turned 28, while Watkins and Robinson are both still just 24. But Watkins and Robinson aren’t without their flaws. Watkins has had just one 1,000-yard season in his four years and is coming off a 39-catch, 593-yard season with the Rams. He’s never lived up to being the fourth pick in the 2014 draft. And Robinson has shown incredible ability, but he’s coming off a torn ACL. 

Jeffery wasn’t able to get back to another 1,000-yard season, but he played well in 2017 (with a torn rotator cuff) and had 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ playoff run, including a big performance in Super Bowl LII. If the Eagles didn’t lock him up, he was going to be a hot name on the market. 

Then there’s Jernigan. There haven’t been a lot of deals to compare his to yet, but let’s remember what his deal looks like: Four years, $48 million, with $25 million guaranteed. After a hot start in 2017, Jernigan cooled down later in the season, perhaps hampered by a lingering ankle injury. 

But locking up Jernigan and Jeffery during the season went a long way in locking up the future of the team for the next several years. The Eagles have 19 players under contract through the 2020 season (that’s a lot) including Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks, Malcolm Jenkins and others. Now, things in the NFL are flexible and eventually, they’ll need to find a way to pay Carson Wentz over $30 million annually, but for now, things look good. 

That’s important to remember if it seems like the Eagles are having a quiet offseason. 

Biggest beneficiary of Torrey Smith trade

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Biggest beneficiary of Torrey Smith trade

Midway through the 2017 season, it looked like Mack Hollins was on the verge of replacing Torrey Smith in the Eagles’ receiver rotation.
 
While the big-ticket veteran Smith was struggling – just 15 catches for 221 yards the first nine games of the season – Hollins, the fourth-round rookie from North Carolina, was showing flashes, most notably with that electrifying 64-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins.
 
As it turned out, Smith finally got it together and was solid down the stretch, with 13 for 157 in the postseason, and Hollins only had nine catches for 71 yards the last 11 games of the season.
 
But it was only a matter of time before the Eagles asked Hollins to replace Smith.
 
The Eagles on Friday traded Smith and his $5 million salary cap figure to the Panthers for cornerback Daryl Worley, and Hollins, who carries a $714,283 cap figure, is the likely beneficiary.
 
As of now, Hollins moves up from No. 4 to No. 3, behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.
 
Can he handle it?
 
Hollins showed a lot last year in limited playing time. He separated himself from the Eagles’ other rookie draft pick, fifth-rounder Shelton Gibson, early in camp and found himself in the rotation on a championship team from the start.
 
Although his numbers weren’t anything special – 16 catches for 226 yards and that one long TD – Hollins demonstrated a lot of qualities the Eagles like.
 
He’s very smart with a tremendous work ethic, he’s an unselfish team-first guy that fits the Eagles’ culture, he’s big and fast, he’s got soft, reliable hands, and he runs crisp routes.  
 
With Marcus Johnson going to Seattle in the Michael Bennett deal, the Eagles have very little experience at wide receiver behind Jeffery and Agholor, who both played so well in 2017.
 
Hollins, Bryce Treggs, Gibson and Greg Ward lead the next group, and while the Eagles could still add in the draft, as of now Hollins will be expected to make that big first-to-second-year jump that so many receivers make.
 
Can Hollins do in 2018 what Smith did in 2017? Or more?
 
There’s no reason to think he can’t.
 
Consider this: Hollins as a rookie played 39 percent as many snaps as Smith (735 to 287) and had 44 percent as many catches and 52 percent as many yards.
 
So on a per-snap basis, he was actually more productive than Smith.
 
And the fact the Eagles went out and hired his college position coach, Gunter Brewer, certainly gives even more weight to the notion the Eagles expect Hollins to have a bust-out season in 2018.
 
Jeffery caught 25 passes as a rookie and 89 in his second year, and while that kind of improvement is extreme, it’s realistic to think Hollins could be a 45-catch, 650-yard guy in 2018.
 
Hollins is young and inexpensive. He’s exactly the type of player the Eagles need to make a big jump if they’re going to maintain their success moving forward.