The Eagles won’t have Marquise Goodwin for the 2020 season after the veteran decided to opt out on Tuesday.
While it’s unclear just how big of a role Goodwin would have had with the Eagles, his absence does leave the Eagles without many veterans they can rely on. The oldest veterans in the receiver room are Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, who are both coming off significant injuries last year.
That means the Eagles might need to rely more on their younger receivers in 2020. Guys like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins will need to contribute.
The Eagles haven’t had great luck signing cheap veteran receivers in recent years — think about Kamar Aiken and Markus Wheaton — and at this point I think they’d be wise to roll with the younger players they have.
But there are still some veteran free agent receivers available if they want to go that route:
The Bears cut the 29 year old after he made it through just two years of his four-year, $26 million contract. Gabriel was really good in 2018, catching 67 passes for 688 yards, but played in just nine games in 2019. He had 29 catches for 353 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gabriel is a very speedy player, so adding cheap speed would be an attractive option for the Eagles. The concern with Gabriel is a history of concussions, including in 2019. Still, he’s probably the most attractive option on this list.
Richardson turned 28 in April and is coming off a couple disappointing seasons with Washington. In 2018-19, he played just 17 total games and ended both seasons on IR. He obviously didn’t live up to the $40 million deal he signed in 2018. Richardson got that deal coming off his best NFL season with the Seahawks in 2017, when he caught 44 passes for 703 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s averaged just 12.7 yards per catch in his NFL career but Richardson did run a 4.40 at the 2014 combine.
The most talented receiver on this list obviously comes with plenty of baggage. Gordon is indefinitely suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse and PED policies but he applied for reinstatement in June. Even though his NFL career has taken many turns since his All-Pro season in 2013, every time he gets on the field the now-29-year-old still has it. If you’re wondering why Gordon is on this list and not Antonio Brown, it’s because Gordon has his problems but hasn’t torpedoed his own team.
He’s 30 now but Wright once ran a 4.39 at the combine back in 2012 and he’s put together an eight-year NFL career. He spent the last two years in Carolina, playing in all 32 games with 71 catches for 743 yards and a touchdown. His best season came in 2014 with the Vikings, when he caught 42 passes for 588 and 2 touchdowns.
Hogan, 32, spent the 2019 season with the Panthers after three seasons in New England. The 6-1 receiver played in just seven games because of injury in 2019, catching eight passes for 67 yards. But he was a key role player for the Patriots from 2016-18, winning Super Bowls LI and LIII. He’s not the fastest player in the league but Hogan led the NFL in yards per reception in 2016. That year he caught 38 passes for 680 yards (17.9) and 4 touchdowns.
While Austin isn’t a prototypical outside burner at 5-8, he’s definitely fast. He ran a 4.34 coming out of college in 2013. He’s never lived up to his draft status as the No. 8 pick but he’s been a productive player at times. He’s now 30 and coming off two disappointing seasons with the Cowboys, catching just 21 passes for 317 yards. His best production came with the Rams in 2015-16. He had 52 and 58 catches for 473 and 509 yards with 5 and 3 touchdowns.
One more time? Matthews is still just 28 and was with the Eagles in each of the last two seasons. In two games with the Eagles late last year, he had 4 catches for 33 yards. It’s still hard to believe how productive this guy was early in his career. In his first three NFL seasons with the Eagles from 2014-16, Matthews had 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. The only other players in NFL history to put up those numbers in their first three seasons are Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans and Larry Fitzgerald.
The former Seahawk and Jet is 30 years old now and missed the 2019 season. He signed with the Lions in 2019 but broke his leg in the preseason. Kearse’s best season wasn’t that long ago. In 2017, he caught 65 passes for 810 yards and 5 touchdowns. He has had a pretty productive career, especially for an undrafted player.
OK, so Thomas isn’t a perennial Pro Bowler anymore. He’s now 32 years old and is coming off an OK season with the Jets in 2019. He caught 36 passes for 433 yards and a touchdown. Will he get back to his form from 2012-16 when he made four Pro Bowls? No way. But could he be productive in a limited role with an offense hungry for a veteran presence? Maybe. He’d be able to fill the X position if Alshon Jeffery isn’t ready to go.
Hardy was a 4th-round pick back in 2015 and he spent the last five seasons with the Falcons. In those five years, he averaged 19 catches, 189.2 yards and 1.8 touchdowns. He also returned some kicks and punts with the Falcons too. When he was drafted, Eagles senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello was with the Falcons.
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