Executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman says the Eagles are a better football team after free agency and the draft. We're putting his claim to the test, breaking down the depth chart position by position to examine whether the roster really improved or actually took a step back this offseason.
Up next: the wide receiver position, which sees an influx of youth along with the returns of DeSean Jackson and (maybe) Alshon Jeffery.
By the time the Eagles reached the postseason, their starting wide receivers were Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Deontay Burnett. Simply put, there's far more talent on the roster now.
First and foremost, DeSean Jackson is ready to return after missing almost all of 2019, and while he turns 34 in December, there was no evidence he slowed down any prior to his core injury. Assuming he isn't traded, Alshon Jeffery's value is less apparent, as it's unclear when he'll be healthy and the litany of injuries appeared to be taking a toll the past couple seasons. Regardless, getting either player on the field at even a percentage of themselves would be a huge upgrade.
The Eagles didn't stop there though, using their first-round choice on Jalen Reagor, plus Day 3 selections on John Hightower and Quez Watkins -- all speedsters. There's no reason this team should be picking bodies off the waiver wire come December.
Nobody seems to know what's truly taking place behind the scenes with regard to Jeffery. Was he really the anonymous source who took a jab at Carson Wentz? Is it really that big a deal, or is the rift between the receiver and his teammates overblown? Can the Eagles co-exist with this guy in the locker room?
Jeffery isn't necessarily going to be a bad influence. He'll set an example for the young receivers with his work ethic. But if the situation is as ugly as some in the media would have you believe -- and, again, we have no idea -- the Eagles shouldn't be running the risk he'll become a distraction again.
Nothing will ever be the same. Seriously, there's not a lot that will be reminiscent of last season. Jackson's speed maybe, though the Eagles had that for all of one game. Arcega-Whiteside could maintain a sizable role in the offense, especially while Jeffery is working his way back. That's about it.
Between new and returning faces, this group is getting about as big a facelift as possible in one offseason.
Obviously, introducing three rookies into the mix, there's no telling who will become a contributor and who will flame out. Look no further than Arcega-Whiteside as an example.
Yet, while JJAW's first season was a dud, he's actually a player of some intrigue here. A second-round draft pick, one would hope he'll take some type of step forward in year two. There was some evidence Arcega-Whiteside was slowly improving in 2019, with roughly 90% of his production coming over a six-week stretch after the bye.
Eight catches for 155 yards with a touchdown isn't a line to get excited about, and he disappeared from the offense again in the final two games. Nonetheless, if Jeffery is out, somebody needs to take those snaps outside. As bad as his rookie campaign was, Arcega-Whiteside will get every opportunity to earn that playing time.
Better or worse?
This isn't really a question. The Eagles could've done nothing, and just the prospect of Jackson and eventually Jeffery returning would be an upgrade, not to mention JJAW and Ward's continued development. Add three rookies into the equation, delete Nelson Agholor and maybe Jeffery yet, and it seems fairly obvious.
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