Is this the end for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside?
The Eagles’ second-year wide receiver was a healthy scratch Sunday for the first time in his disappointing career.
With Alshon Jeffery healthy, there just wasn’t a game-day roster spot available for JJAW, who has two catches this year and only 12 in 24 career games.
And unless an Eagles receiver gets hurt over these last seven games, there’s a good chance Arcega-Whiteside has played his final snap in an Eagles uniform.
Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward and John Hightower aren’t going anywhere, and speedy Quez Watkins is also in the mix.
With Jeffery finally back after missing a year with foot and calf injuries, why would the Eagles activate JJAW?
Right now, he’s sixth — and perhaps seventh — on the depth chart, and they only dress five.
What a disaster. What an organization-wide embarrassment.
The Eagles selected Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick in last year’s draft.
“This guy's a baller,” GM Howie Roseman said on draft day 2019. “He’s got a very good skill set, and I think when our fans get to know him, they are going to be really proud. He symbolizes Eagle mentality, Eagle football.”
If an underachieving disappointment symbolizes Eagles football, Howie was right.
Arcega-Whiteside managed just 10 catches for 169 yards in 486 snaps as a rookie and had just 2-for-45 this year in 100 rapidly dwindling snaps.
The longest catch of his career — a 37-yarder — was the final play of the first half against the Steelers as time ran out.
So even when he had a big catch, it was meaningless.
If this is it for JJAW, how bad a pick was it?
Of 124 NFL wide receivers drafted in the second round since 1990, only 13 had fewer than 12 catches in their first two years.
And if JJAW is gone after this year, he would join Eric Rowe, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Quinton Caver, Victor Bailey, Siran Stacy, Mike Bellamy and Alonzo Johnson as the eighth Eagles 2nd-round pick in the last 50 years who didn’t make it to a third season here.
Not the kind of company you want to keep.
Of course what elevates the JJAW pick from disappointing to catastrophic is who the Eagles passed over in the draft when they picked him.
Some 13 wide receivers taken after JJAW have more career catches, including budding stars Terry McLaurin [108 catches, 1,611 yards, 10 TDS] and D.K. Metcalf [101, 1,688, 15].
Metcalf has more touchdowns so far than Arcega-Whiteside has catches.
Heck, Darius Slayton was taken in the 5th round and has 81 catches for 1,231 yards and 11 TDs, including a 93-yard game against the Eagles on Sunday while JJAW was watching from the sideline.
Is there a chance the Eagles bring Arcega-Whiteside back for a third season? There’s a chance. He is only 23, and no NFL team wants to give up on a 2nd-round pick this quickly. And you never know what the future holds.
But even if Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are both out of the picture, the Eagles would still have Fulgham, Reagor, Ward and Hightower ahead of him, and Watkins is a rookie 6th-round pick who’s been on the roster all year. And don’t forget, Marquis Goodwin — who opted out of the 2020 season — is now under contract for 2021.
It’s hard to imagine where a guy who’s played just 38 snaps in the Eagles’ last five games and has 12 career receptions fits into that picture.
It’s still a little too early to call this the end for Arcega-Whiteside, but when a 2nd-round pick is a healthy scratch halfway through his second season, it’s generally very difficult to work your way back into the picture.
It was a disappointing day all around for the Eagles. Not just because of the way they played against the Giants. But because of who isn’t even good enough to be on the field for another terrible loss.