Mack Hollins

After being released by Eagles, Mack Hollins claimed by Dolphins

After being released by Eagles, Mack Hollins claimed by Dolphins

For the fans who thought the Eagles should have just left Mack Hollins in Miami, it turns out it actually would have been a good idea.

Hollins, who endured his eighth straight game without a catch Sunday in Miami, was claimed by the Dolphins Wednesday, one day after the Eagles released him.

By claiming him, the Dolphins inherit Hollins’ rookie contract, which he signed with the Eagles in 2016. He’s due $151,764 for the rest of this year and $735,000 if he’s with the Dolphins on this contract next year. Hollins earned $1,971,903 with the Eagles. 

Hollins caught 26 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown in 28 games with the Eagles, plus one nine-yard reception in the 2017 playoff win over the Falcons. He missed all of last year with an injury.

Hollins was a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina in 2017. He has good size at 6-foot-4, good enough speed to average 20.6 yards per catch in college, and he’s only 26. He was just never able to find his way in an Eagles uniform.

Hollins played seven snaps on offense and 10 on special teams Sunday in the Dolphins’ win over the Eagles. He’s played 204 snaps since he last caught a pass in the Eagles’ win over the Packers.

He actually had decent back-to-back games against the Falcons and Lions, catching 9-for-112 in those losses. But he’s caught just one pass since.

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Eagles finally release Mack Hollins

Eagles finally release Mack Hollins

Mack Hollins, who hasn’t had a catch since September, won’t even have an opportunity anymore. 

The Eagles on Tuesday afternoon waived the 2017 fourth-round pick. 

Hollins, 26, was actually contributing earlier this season, but his last catch came on Sept. 26 against the Packers. Since then, Hollins played 204 snaps in eight games without a catch on five targets. 

To fill Hollins’ place on the roster, the Eagles called up undrafted guard Sue Opeta from the practice squad. The Eagles wanted to sign Opeta to the active roster after another team wanted to sign him away. (The Eagles also signed DT Kevin Wilkins to fill Opeta’s practice squad spot.) 

And recently, Hollins’ role on offense had rightfully decreased. 

What made Hollins’ lack of production so frustrating this year was the Eagles’ refusal to even acknowledge that it was a problem. 

Here’s what receivers coach Carson Walch said about Hollins in early November after five straight games without a catch: 

I don’t think there’s a direct reason. I know production is a word that’s getting thrown around a lot. Production as a player to me isn’t just how many catches you have in a given week. Each guy on our team has a role and right now Mack Hollins has done a very good job at his role, and a lot of it is blocking, but he’s running all the routes we’re asking him to run, he’s getting to his depth and when the ball comes to Mack he’ll make a play for us.

Yeah, that was pretty infuriating for Eagles fans. 

In recent weeks, the Eagles began limiting Hollins’ playing time. He played 12 snaps against the Patriots and just 10 in the last two weeks. The Eagles have finally started to play second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside more.

 

With Hollins gone, the Eagles have four members left of their eight-man draft class from 2017: Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Nathan Gerry. 

While Barnett is a starter and Gerry is a prominent role player, Jones has been a healthy scratch and Douglas has become a backup again. 

The Hollins move means the Eagles have now cut him and Jordan Matthews in consecutive weeks. These two guys played big roles for the Eagles at times this year, which highlights how bad things have been at the receiver position. 

Hollins actually had a somewhat promising rookie season (16 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown) before missing the entire 2018 year. He returned in 2019 and found his way on the field but wasn’t able to stick. 

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More J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, less Mack Hollins in latest Eagles wide receiver shakeup

More J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, less Mack Hollins in latest Eagles wide receiver shakeup

Are we about to finally see a changing of the guard at wide receiver?
 
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday rookie second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will have an expanded role on offense starting Sunday in Miami.
 
JJAW’s snaps would presumably come at the expense of Mack Hollins, who got 374 snaps the first nine games of the season but caught only 10 passes for 125 yards. He hasn’t caught a pass since Week 4, despite averaging 28 snaps per game during that span.
 
“That’s kind of been our plan kind of moving forward,” Pederson said. “J.J.’s kind of the guy now. He’s done some nice things the last couple games, he’s gaining a little more confidence in that. Nelly (Nelson Agholor) can obviously play over there and then bringing Greg (Ward) up obviously gives us some flexibility in the slot. So J.J. and Mack kind of fill that spot and really kind of back up a couple spots.”
 
Hollins’ snaps were reduced drastically the last two weeks in favor of Jordan Matthews, who started the last two games outside. During losses to the Patriots and Seahawks, Hollins played only 16 of 151 snaps on offense while Matthews got 137.
 
But the Eagles released Matthews on Monday, opting to keep Ward on the 53-man roster instead. 
 
More on Ward in a minute.
 
Pederson said Alshon Jeffery and Agholor are expected back Sunday for the Dolphins. Jeffery missed the last two games with an ankle injury and Agholor missed last week’s game with a knee.
 
But even with them returning, if Hollins’ playing time remains low, there will be snaps for Arcega-Whiteside.
 
It sounds like Jeffery and Arcega-Whiteside will start outside, with Agholor in the slot.
 
JJAW has shown flashes the last two weeks, with a 29-yard reception against the Patriots and a 30-yarder against the Seahawks.
 
That made him the first Eagles rookie receiver with a 25-yard catch in consecutive games since Matthews had a 26-yarder against the Redskins and a 44-yarder against the Giants late in the 2014 season. 
 
But overall he has just 5-for-86 so far.
 
Why does Pederson think JJAW is ready for a bigger role?
 
“I just think what I’ve seen in practice, how he’s taken his coaching from classroom to the practice field, some of the things he did in the game last week,” Pederson said. “Even though the ball didn’t necessarily maybe go his direction, just how he was able to run routes, some of the things he did that way, blocking, things of that nature. Look, it’s where we are in our season and these guys were drafted for a reason and now we’ve got to get them to play and play well.”
 
As for Ward, Pederson said he’ll have a larger role coming off his six-catch game Sunday in what was essentially his first NFL game playing on offense.
 
Ward was on the practice squad in 2017 and was here in training camp last year before leading the AAF in receiving while playing for the San Antonio Commanders. He spent most of this year back on the practice squad before getting promoted last week.
 
“He’s earned it,” Pederson said of the former Houston quarterback. “He deserves it by the way he’s practiced. He’ll have a role.”
 
All of this raises the question why Ward languished on the practice squad for all but one game this year — he was active against the Lions but got only two snaps on offense — while Hollins failed to produce and Matthews was brought in for an unsuccessful third stint here.
 
“Sometimes it’s complicated with the roster,” Pederson said. “We felt like we were on track to maybe getting him up a couple weeks ago, but then we have an injury in the secondary and you’ve got to pull a guy up there. Or in our case, we had a couple receivers go down and (signed) Jordan Matthews. … It’s a little big of a juggling act.”
 
Ward picked up three first downs with his six catches against the Seahawks Sunday.
 
He’s mainly a slot, so whatever action he gets presumably would come with Agholor moving outside.

“We’ve been real comfortable and confident with Greg all year,” Pederson said. “He’s earned it, he deserves this opportunity. But the timing earlier in the year just wasn’t right for us to make that move.”
 
When it comes to the Eagles' receiving corps, any change is definitely a positive.

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