Eagles

The timeline of Eagles' year of poor decisions at wide receiver

The timeline of Eagles' year of poor decisions at wide receiver

There's a simple reason the Eagles have one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the league.

Bad move after bad move. Poor decision after poor decision. Mistake after mistake.
 
It’s not easy to bungle an entire position group in the span of one year, but that’s what seems to have happened.
 
And this is nothing new for the Eagles.
 
Whether it’s drafting Josh Huff in the 3rd round in 2014 or trading Dennis Kelly for Dorial Green-Beckham in the summer of 2016 or signing guys like Rueben Randle and Chris Givens in 2016 or Mike Wallace, Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken last year, the Howie Roseman-led front office has struggled for years evaluating wide receivers.
 
This year, it’s been worse than ever.
 
Let’s take a look:
 
MARCH 13: Acquired DeSean Jackson from the Buccaneers

The Eagles didn’t give up much to acquire DeSean from the Buccaneers — two late-round picks. The deal in itself wasn’t bad. I liked it. It’s what happened one day later that now looks like a mistake.
 
MARCH 14: Signed the 32-year-old Jackson to a three-year, $27.9 million contract extension with $15 million in guaranteed money

We saw in the opener Jackson can still play, but he hasn’t played since, and it’s fair to question giving an aging speed receiver a contract that runs until he’s 35 and is worth over $9 million per year. Receivers can play at a high level into their mid-30s — guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Derrick Mason have done it — but it’s tough to find a speed receiver who has. It's a huge financial commitment for a guy in his mid-30s whose whole game is based on speed.
 
APRIL 26: Selected Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round

OK, it’s way too early to give up on JJAW, and he’s actually shown a couple flashes the last two weeks. But D.K. Metcalf, drafted seven picks later by the Seahawks, has 38-for-630 and 5 TDs. JJAW has 5-for-86. It’s still early. Maybe Arcega-Whiteside will end up being the better player. We've now seen both of them drop TD passes. Time will tell who's ultimately the better receiver, but the early returns favor Metcalf. Maybe JJAW can play. But we know Metcalf can play.  
 
APRIL 30: Exercised the 5th-year option in Nelson Agholor’s contract for 2019 at $9.4 million guaranteed

Has anybody ever done less for more? Agholor has 322 receiving yards with five games left. So far, pro-rating his contract, Nelly is earning $18,882 per YARD. Or $168,889 per catch. Agholor ranks 76nd among NFL wide receivers in yards, 46th in catches and 18th in salary. Just a miserable year for a guy earning nearly $10 million.
 
AUG. 31: Kept Mack Hollins on the 53-man roster at final cuts

It’s not like there was anybody decent that they released to keep him unless you’re a huge Marken Michel fan. But Hollins, a one-time 4th-round pick, has just 10 catches for 125 yards all year despite playing 396 snaps. He's now gone seven straight games without a catch. ANYBODY would have been a better option. But the Eagles couldn't find him.
 
SEPT. 7: Restructured Alshon Jeffery’s contract

The Eagles converted $11.5 million of Jeffery's 2020 base salary into guaranteed pay. That essentially made him un-cuttable. Jeffery’s production has dropped steadily, and he’s having an awful season marred by injuries, drops and a lack of productivity. He’s been hurt much of the last few years, and although he’s only 29 it’s a very old 29. The Eagles would love to move on from him, but thanks to the guaranteed money, they really can't at this point. The thing is, they had no reason to guarantee Jeffery’s 2020 salary.  So they went out of their way to make sure they kept a player who a couple months later had worn out his welcome.
 
SEPT. 24: Released Greg Ward

With Jeffery inactive for the Lions game, the Eagles signed Ward from the practice squad. But he played only two snaps on offense, wasn’t targeted, and was released the next day. I don’t want to get carried away with Ward, but he showed Sunday — with six catches, three for first downs — that he can at least get open and catch the football. Mack Hollins has NEVER caught six passes in a game. Ward did it in the first game he ever got significant playing time.

NOV. 11: Signed Jordan Matthews

Matthews’ third tenure with the Eagles lasted only 21 days, and he was just 4-for-33 receiving despite playing 135 snaps in two games. How does the Eagles' brain trust like Matthews enough to give him 73 snaps on Sunday — more than any other receiver, tight end or back — but decide to release him the next day? What’s crazy is that the Eagles have seen Ward since he got here on April 9 (and really for most of the last three years) but they still thought Matthews was a better option. They’ve watched Ward practice every day since training camp began, but they still left him rotting on the bench. Only when they were finally forced to play him did they realize … “Oh, he’s not bad.” It sure looks like they had no idea what they had in Ward. Which really should be impossible considering how long he's been here. Then on Monday they released Matthews. Why? To play Ward. Who could have been playing all along.

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Eagles hold video meeting with possible sleeper pick WR Quartney Davis

Eagles hold video meeting with possible sleeper pick WR Quartney Davis

The Eagles are exploring all options to fix their wide receiver corps in this month's NFL Draft. Fans want Howie Roseman to spend top-tier draft picks on big-name receivers, but the team doesn't seem fixated on just one round.

Which is why they recently held a video conference with Texas A&M wide receiver Quartney Davis, a possible sleeper wide receiver pick who could be available come the later rounds in the draft, according to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.

Davis caught 99 passes for 1,201 yards and 11 TD across his two years with Texas A&M. He saw his receptions and yards jump from 2018 to 2019, but his touchdowns and yards per reception both fell.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro explored the Eagles' likely wide receiver options at each level of the draft, and noted Davis could be a solid late-round option to flesh out Carson Wentz's potential weapons.

The Eagles, however, certainly aren't the only team interested in Davis. From Wilson:

"Texas A&M wide receiver Quartney Davis, a rising NFL Draft prospect from Langham Creek High School, has video conferenced with the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.

"Davis worked out and met privately for the Arizona Cardinals prior to the social distancing edict from the NFL prompted by the coronavirus pandemic."

Davis, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 200 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Combine in 4.54 seconds.

It's worth noting that, over the last 20 years, the Eagles have drafted just two wide receivers after the third round who went on to catch at least three touchdowns with the team: Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.

But in a draft noted for its depth at wide receiver, the Eagles are likely checking in on every possible option at the position ahead of April 23.

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NFL Draft Rumors: Eagles could pick these defenders instead of WR in first round

NFL Draft Rumors: Eagles could pick these defenders instead of WR in first round

We're just 15 days from the 2020 NFL Draft, and draft rumors are swirling more than the winds over the Schuylkill. One rumbling we've heard more than once now: the Eagles might be interested in using their No. 21 pick on a defender.

Over at Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, NFL insider Albert Breer answered in a mailbag column one of the hottest questions in this year's draft: Are the Eagles taking a wide receiver in the first round?

And Breer, like Adam Schefter before him, isn't sold. Breer even listed a few possible defensive options the Eagles might like more than, say, LSU wideout Justin Jefferson at No. 21:

I get the idea that Eagles fans are ready to burn the Linc to the ground if Philly doesn’t take one in the first round—given the inactivity in fixing that position this offseason, and awkward contractual spot they’re in with Alshon Jeffery. But I’m not totally convinced it happens.

(...) 

Let’s say (Xavier) McKinney is there. Or K’Lavon Chaisson is there. Or (CJ) Henderson is there and the value in pairing him with Darius Slay, and fixing the corner spot once and for all, is too great.

And to further this, let’s say (Ceedee) Lamb and (Jerry) Jeudy are gone. If Henry Ruggs is there, maybe you take him. Or maybe you think to yourself that taking one of the others makes sense, knowing a similar player, in K.J. Hamler, might be around in Round 2. If Ruggs is gone? Then, it’d seem, the value of the defensive guys may further outdistance, say, Justin Jefferson.

The odds say Jefferson is a likely pick for the Eagles, and they've been linked to him many times. But is that more out of convenience and perceived fit?

Howie Roseman is nothing if not a guy who wants to get value out of his draft picks, and if he thinks the best value at No. 21 is taking a cornerback like CJ Henderson instead of a wide receiver like Jefferson, he'll make the defender move every time.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank examined today some possible options at wide receiver who might be available in the third round. This is a deep wide receiver draft.

Eagles fans are, indeed, hungry for a young star wide receiver. Roseman knows this, but he still might zig on draft night when fans want him to zag.

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