The Eagles finally added another free agent this week but it wasn’t the splash folks were hoping for at the receiver position.
They added veteran Zach Pascal. A move that will help but a move that certainly didn’t move the needle.
Here are five thoughts about the state of the Eagles’ receiver position after the move:
1. They can’t be done
The addition of Pascal leaves the Eagles with eight receivers on their roster: DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Pascal, Jalen Reagor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, John Hightower and Deon Cain.
Simply put: This isn’t good enough.
The Eagles feel like they have their No. 1 receiver in Smith and that’s something we won’t argue against. The 2021 first-round pick had a very encouraging rookie season and will continue to grow. He’s a star in the making.
But adding Pascal didn’t improve this receiving corps enough to feel comfortable with the group going into the season. Watkins is still the No. 2, which means Pascal probably slides into the No. 3 receiver spot ahead of Reagor, who has obviously had a very disappointing career. The Eagles still need to try to add a receiver who can supplant Pascal from the starting lineup, whether that’s as the No. 2 ahead of Watkins or the No. 3 behind him.
Either way, the Eagles really like Watkins (that’s not lip service) so he’s going to be playing. That can be either as the outside receiver opposite Smith or in the slot, where he played in 2021. But they need to add at least one more receiver.
2. At least he’s a veteran
It’s easy to dismiss the Pascal signing because he’s not an elite talent. His best seasons came in 2019-20, when he went over 600 yards in each year. This wasn’t the splash Eagles fans wanted. But it did give them something they were lacking in the receiver room: A veteran.
In 2021, the Eagles had an extremely young group of receivers. Ward was the most veteran of the bunch and he was just a couple years removed from being a practice squad player and by the time the 2021 season came around, he was already phased almost entirely out of the offense.
During this offseason, Smith admitted it would help him to have a veteran around. Pascal has just four NFL seasons under his belt but he’s easily the most experienced receiver in the room now.
And besides NFL experience, he has experience with Nick Sirianni; there’s no question that Pascal is one of Sirianni’s favorites. Yes, Pascal is a limited player but he knows exactly how Sirianni wants things done.
3. Bad news for Reagor and JJAW
This move isn’t good for Reagor or Arcega-Whiteside, who have been draft busts early in their careers.
For Reagor, the addition of Pascal represents a bump down in the pecking order. And because, like we mentioned, Pascal isn’t good enough for the Eagles to rest, it means another player could be coming. If the Eagles had added a star receiver, like Christian Kirk, Reagor would have been bumped down but then maybe the Eagles would be finished. By adding a player who might be slightly ahead of Reagor, it keeps open the very real possibility that there’s another addition on the way. Because of his cap situation, it’s still unlikely Reagor gets cut, but his playing time is going to suffer.
For JJAW, it’s bad news because his roster spot isn’t as solid as Reagor’s from a financial standpoint. Cutting Reagor would leave the Eagles with a larger cap hit, while cutting JJAW would actually save the Eagles over $1 million in space. That’s not a crazy amount, but they won’t feel obligated to keep him for financial reasons. And Pascal (6-2, 214) is considered to be a good blocking receiver. After the season ended, Sirianni called JJAW the “enforcer” of the receiving corps and praised him for doing the dirty work in the run game. That job probably goes to Pascal now.
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4. Looking to the draft?
The Eagles have used first-round picks on receivers in back-to-back drafts. They missed with Reagor but hit with Smith. It would seem pretty crazy for them to use another first-rounder on a receiver, but it shouldn’t be out of the question. Failing on picks like Reagor and JJAW can’t prevent the Eagles from trying again.
There are some intriguing first-round options like Treylon Burks, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Jameson Williams and Chris Olave. But even if the Eagles don’t use one of their three first-round picks on a receiver, I’d still expect them to snag one by at least Day 2.
There are going to be enticing receiver options when they’re the clock at No. 51 in the second round and No. 83 in the third round.
5. Can they still add another veteran?
The Eagles might have wanted to sign a big-name free agent receiver but the contracts were outlandish this offseason. It’s not Howie Roseman’s style to overpay. Now that we’re getting to the second and third waves of free agency, there are still some decent names available. Perhaps the Eagles are able to add a veteran once the numbers come down some.
There’s also the possibility of a trade. The Eagles tried to trade for Calvin Ridley but then the NFL handed down a suspension to Ridley for betting on NFL games. Roseman is always up for a trade and there are some players who might be possible targets. There are a couple receivers in Seattle (Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf) worth a look and maybe Brandin Cooks down in Houston would be worth a look too.