Eagles

A look through 10 possible free-agent WR targets for Eagles

A look through 10 possible free-agent WR targets for Eagles

There have been plenty of reports already this offseason linking the Eagles' to soon-to-be free agent wide receivers. 

Not a big shocker. 

The Eagles, thanks to an unbelievably inadequate group of receivers in 2016, will continue to be linked to anyone with a pulse who can catch footballs. Already, we've heard Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Kenny Stills. There will be more. 

While talking in Mobile, Alabama, last month at the Senior Bowl, Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman hinted toward his preference to signing a free agent rather than trying to draft one, but it doesn't mean the Eagles won't do both. 

"I think if you take out the 2014 wide receiver class and you look at this, it's really been historically a tough position to acclimate in the National Football League," Roseman said about the class in 2014 that included Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks. "It hasn't been a plug-and-play position. And I think that class changed everyone's thoughts a little bit, but the reality is we have years of data that it's a hard position to come into the National Football League and contribute at, that it's a developmental position and you have to look at it when you're drafting guys in that perspective."

That doesn't necessarily mean the Eagles won't draft a receiver; it just means they won't rely on filling the hole by only drafting. They're very likely to sign a receiver in free agency. 

Here's a look at 10 options, in no particular order: 

Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery (6-3, 218) just turned 27 on Tuesday and seems to have a lot of really good football ahead of him. In 2013-14, he caught 174 passes for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. Since then, Jeffery played just nine games in 2015 and missed four games last year with a PED suspension. But forget all that. He's the best receiver on the market and he's going to get paid this offseason. 

For the Eagles: Sure, Jeffery would be a great fit on the field, but the price might drive the Eagles out of contention. 

Pierre Garçon
Garçon is 30 and will turn 31 in August. He's been a pretty good receiver throughout his career, with a peak in 2013. In 2016, he had another solid season, with 79 catches for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad. 

For the Eagles: Not sure this would be a home run for the Eagles. Sure, he would make them better in 2017, but he's not the explosive type of player the team desperately needs. 

Victor Cruz
Give Cruz credit. It looked like his career might be over until he returned in 2016 to catch 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown. Not great numbers but certainly better than what the Eagles had last year. Cruz is 30. 

For the Eagles: Doesn't make much sense (see story). Cruz doesn't appear to have much left and is a better fit in the slot. That's where Jordan Matthews has already established himself for the Eagles. 

Kenny Britt
At 28, Britt is coming off his first 1,000-yard season in 2016 just in time to hit the market as a free agent. Britt had some off-the-field troubles early in his career but seems to have moved past that. He posted highs in receptions and receiving yards last season and is a pretty good deep threat. 

For the Eagles: Sure, Britt should be on their radar. He can stretch the field some and is somewhat of a proven commodity, although they shouldn't expect the type of season he had in 2016 again. 

DeSean Jackson
Yeah, you're already pretty familiar with DeSean. The most amazing thing about him is he's 30 now but hasn't lost his big-play ability. The speed is still there. In his three years in Washington, he's averaged 19.0 yards per catch. In his six years in Philly, he averaged 17.2. He's actually getting better as a deep threat as he ages. 

For the Eagles: Yeah, a reunion makes plenty of sense. Jackson is aging but is also the type of big-play receiver the Eagles have missed since they had … DeSean Jackson. It also seems like he wants to come back. Again, price might get in the way. How much will the Eagles be willing to pay a 30-year-old speed receiver and what type of deal will Jackson be offered elsewhere? 

Kamar Aiken
Aiken (6-2, 213) is coming off a season where he caught just 29 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown. That's a disappointment after a 75-catch, 944-yard season in 2015. His 2016 season was bad for him, but could be good for teams who want a bargain. 

For the Eagles: Aiken is a lesser free agent compared to others and his 12.0 yards per reception average isn't great, but there's some potential there and a bargain could be something the Eagles are interested in. He was forced to play the slot in 2016, but I'm not sure that's where he fits best. 

Terrelle Pryor
Pryor, the 6-4, 223-pound former quarterback, had an impressive 2016 season, establishing himself as a real threat as a receiver in the NFL. He caught 77 balls for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. He's 27 but appears far from reaching his potential. He's among the top available receivers. 

For the Eagles: If Pryor actually hits the market, the Eagles should be interested. But it seems kind of unlikely that's going to happen. The Browns should either franchise him or try to sign him long-term. 

Robert Woods
Woods, 6-0, 190, has been pretty consistent since entering the league as a second-round pick. In his four NFL seasons, he's averaged 50.8 catches and 612.8 yards per season. Solid, but not worth big money. 

For the Eagles: Woods has some talent but has been stuck in Buffalo. And after four NFL seasons, he's still just 24. Would be worth looking. 

Terrance Williams
The former third-round pick put together four good seasons in Dallas, with his lowest receiving yards-season coming in 2016. His best year was 2015 when he caught 52 balls for 840 yards. 

For the Eagles: It seems likely the Cowboys will let Williams walk and he wouldn't make a bad No. 2 option for the Eagles. Before last season, he had always been above 16 yards per reception, which should be enticing. 

Kenny Stills
Like Woods, Stills won't turn 25 until April, which is a good thing. The former fifth-rounder has 164 catches for 2,738 yards in his four seasons and is a legitimate deep threat. His 16.7 yards per reception is something to note. 

For the Eagles: A cheaper DeSean Jackson? Possibly. But even if Stills isn't much cheaper than Jackson, he at least likely has a lot more tread on the tires. The Eagles should definitely be interested. 

Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson is officially in offseason mode, and he kicked off Pro Bowl week - which he's now officially part of - by showing up on former teammate Chris Long's podcast and shooting the breeze for an hour.

The duo bantered about plenty, from dealing with failure and ego as football players, to Johnson's time as a grave digger. About halfway through, Johnson offered up a seldom-heard explanation for his hairstyle, or lackthereof.

Johnson, of course, famously keeps his hair short (read: nonexistent) on top, and keeps his beard long. He explained to Long that it took some serious self-reflection, and a couple rough games early in his rookie season, to officially start shaving his head:

I was in college, it was my senior year, and my friend goes, 'Bro, are you f***ing losing your hair?' I said, what are you talking about? Then I went to the mirror, and I'd clearly been in denial for some time. I said, 'Bro, this s*** is terrible.' 

So I played with it my senior year, it was bad. I'd comb it over, wear my hats, feather it out in the back, try to look cool. Then I got to the Eagles, and after getting bull-rushed by Dwight Freeney and giving up three sacks to Justin Houston, I just shaved that s*** off. I've been a different man ever since.

The Eagles, you might remember, lost in Week 2 that year to Freeney's Chargers, and then lost in Week 3 to Houston's Chiefs, to fall to 1-3. They went 9-3 the rest of the way, a startling and fun turnaround. I'm not saying it's all thanks to Johnson shaving his head... but maybe?

That's about as good a reason as I can think of to make a hairstyle change. Johnson has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL since he started shaving his head, so maybe he's on to something. He spends very little time focusing on his hair, and plenty of time focusing on his game.

When you go back and look at Johnson with hair, it's... extremely jarring:

Johnson is basically unrecognizable in that video. He looks like a child! Thank goodness for Freeney and Houston shellacking Johnson as a rookie, or he might still be clinging to that brutal hairdo.

Maybe Johnson should've floated this idea to the Eagles' coaching staff years ago. Who knows what a haircut could've done for Nelson Agholor?

You can listen to, and watch, the full conversation between Johnson and Long below:

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Eagles reportedly getting close to hiring Marquand Manuel as DBs coach

Eagles reportedly getting close to hiring Marquand Manuel as DBs coach

The Eagles are reportedly getting close to filling at least one of their four vacant coaching jobs. 

According to ESPN, the Eagles have interviewed former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel for their defensive backs coach position and “a deal could happen as early as today.” 

The Eagles are looking for a new DBs coach after Cory Undlin, who held the position for five seasons, left to take the defensive coordinator position under Matt Patricia in Detroit. The Eagles’ other vacancies are at offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and defensive line coach. 

The Eagles have also reportedly interviewed Browns DBs coach DeWayne Walker for the vacant DBs coach position. 

Whoever gets the job is going to have some work ahead of them. The Eagles’ secondary has plenty of questions marks heading into the 2020 season. Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod are all set to be free agents. Malcolm Jenkins wants a new contract. And Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are former high-round draft picks who couldn’t get on the field in a playoff game. 

Manuel, 40, comes with a relatively impressive resume. He was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator from 2017-18 and before that was their secondary coach from 2015-16. He began his coaching career with the Seahawks as a low-level assistant and was eventually the assistant secondary coach. He also had an eight-year NFL career at safety as a sixth-round pick; Doug Pederson values former players on his coaching staff. 

When Dan Quinn took the Falcons’ head coaching job in 2015, he brought Manuel with him and promoted him to DBs coach. He then promoted him again two years later. So Manuel has been coaching in that Cover 3 scheme for years. The Eagles use many zone concepts. 

Here’s what Quinn said about Manuel before the 2018 season, via Falcons.com: 

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

During Manuel’s four years in Atlanta, both as DBs coach and defensive coordinator, the Falcons had the 24th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. But in his second season in Atlanta, the Falcons went to the Super Bowl. He was promoted after that season. But after two years as DC, Manuel was fired by the Falcons after the 2018 season and was not in the NFL in 2019 as Quinn took back DC responsibilities. 

This would be an important hire for the Eagles and it sounds like they’re getting close to making it. 

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