What Wide Receivers Could The Eagles Target in Free-Agency?


Regardless of whether or not you agreed with the Eagles decision to release DeSean Jackson last off-season, it was fair to think that if Jeremy Maclin had a big year, the Eagles receiving corps wouldn’t see much of a drop-off.

Maclin stayed healthy in 2014, coming off of a torn ACL, and posted a stat-line of 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns–all of which were career-highs. While Maclin’s 2014 was more impressive individually than Jackson’s Pro-Bowl 2013 season, a variety of factors contributed to a drop-off from the rest of the receiving corps.

The first factor was that regardless of whether Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez played Quarterback, neither played as well as Michael Vick and Nick Foles did in 2013. Foles left touchdowns on the board and turned the ball over more times in seven and a half games in 2014 than he did in 11 games in 2013. Sanchez may have run the offense at a higher-pace, but he committed frustrating turnovers and the Eagles all-but head to throw out the section of the playbook that involved throwing the ball more than 15 yards down-field with him at the helm.

The second factor was that despite Maclin having a better individual season than Jackson did in 2013, his speed wasn’t respected by opponent’s in exactly the same way that Jackson’s was. That’s not to say he wasn’t better or that team’s didn’t gameplan for him in different ways, but team’s not game-planning for Jackson to stretch the field kept Riley Cooper from getting open the way that he did in 2013.

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In 2013, Cooper actually caught less passes than he would in 2014, but did so at a 17.8 yards-per-catch clip. Cooper, finished the 2013 season with 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. After that season earned him a five-year extension, Cooper saw 11 more targets in 2014, and caught eight more passes. Unfortunately, those receptions only amounted to 577 yards and three touchdowns. Up until Week 16, Cooper had just one touchdown.

Cooper’s numbers may not put in perspective exactly how poor of a season he had. Pro Football Focus, one of the most respected Football websites on the internet, ranked Cooper as the worst starting receiver in the NFL in 2014, which kind of drives home how ineffective he was.

Next season, Cooper will enter year-two of a five-year/$22.5 million deal. The exact terms of the deal aren’t necessarily important. What is important is that Cooper’s deal had just $8 million guaranteed. Unfortunately, the deal was not front-loaded. Cooper made just $1.8 million of the $8 million that the Eagles need to pay him for the total of the deal in 2014. So if the Eagles released Cooper this off-season, they would still owe him $6.2 million. Next year, Cooper will make $4.8 million, which means that after 2015, $6.6 million of the $8 million guaranteed in Cooper’s deal will be paid off. If the Eagles choose to move on from Cooper after next year, they may very well be able to do so. But for 2015, it appears that Riley Cooper will be an Eagle.

That said, knowing that they may only have to bite the bullet for one more year with Cooper and that he clearly isn’t good enough to be the team’s number two receiver, the Eagles may be able to backload a deal with a free-agent to find a better number two receiver to be able to pair with Maclin, assuming they re-sign him.

Jordan Matthews appears likely to stay in the slot for 2015, and Josh Huff–as frustrating as he was at times–seems like a player likely to get a bigger role in his second season. With those two continuing to develop, Maclin hopefully back in the fold, and Riley Cooper sliding back into a smaller role, the Eagles seem to be one more weapon away from having one of the league’s best receiving corps.

Per Spotrac, here the 2015 Free-Agent Wide Receivers.

2014 CAP HIT
Wes WelkerWR33DENTBD$7,647,059UFA
Reggie WayneWR36INDTBD$6,166,668UFA
Jeremy MaclinWR26PHITBD$5,468,750UFA
Eddie RoyalWR28SDTBD$5,000,000UFA
Nate WashingtonWR31TENTBD$4,800,000UFA
Michael CrabtreeWR27SFTBD$4,770,443UFA
Demaryius ThomasWR27DENTBD$4,700,000UFA
Hakeem NicksWR26INDTBD$3,975,000UFA
Dez BryantWR26DALTBD$3,148,500UFA
Miles AustinWR30CLETBD$2,000,000UFA
Cecil ShortsWR27JACTBD$1,541,845UFA
Denarius MooreWR26OAKTBD$1,478,513UFA
Kenny BrittWR26STLTBD$1,375,000UFA
Dane SanzenbacherWR26CINTBD$1,200,000UFA
Brad SmithWR31PHITBD$1,150,000UFA
Torrey SmithWR25BALTBD$1,078,392UFA
Brandon TateWR27CINTBD$1,024,000UFA
Randall CobbWR24GBTBD$1,021,179UFA
Brandon LloydWR33SFTBD$1,005,000UFA
Vincent BrownWR25OAKTBD$875,005UFA
Jerrel JerniganWR25NYGTBD$813,813UFA
Leonard HankersonWR25WASTBD$812,219UFA
Marcus EasleyWR27BUFTBD$730,000UFA
Dwayne HarrisWR27DALTBD$655,000UFA
Greg SalasWR26NYJTBD$645,000UFA
Andre HolmesWR26OAKTBD$645,000RFA
Kris DurhamWR26TENTBD$645,000RFA
Santana MossWR35WASTBD$635,000UFA
Darrius Heyward-BeyWR27PITTBD$635,000UFA
Seji AjirotutuWR27SDTBD$635,000UFA
Rod StreaterWR26OAKTBD$573,333RFA
Cole BeasleyWR25DALTBD$570,500RFA
Eric WeemsWR29ATLTBD$570,000UFA
Josh MorganWR29CHITBD$570,000UFA
Jeremy RossWR26DETTBD$570,000ERFA
Jeff MaehlWR25PHITBD$570,000RFA
Ricardo LocketteWR28SEATBD$570,000ERFA
Jermaine KearseWR24SEATBD$570,000RFA
Damaris JohnsonWR25HOUTBD$570,000RFA
Robert MeachemWR30NOTBD$570,000UFA
Jarrett BoykinWR25GBTBD$570,000RFA
Derek HaganWR30TENTBD$570,000UFA
Chris HoganWR26BUFTBD$495,000ERFA
Junior HemingwayWR26KCTBD$495,000ERFA
Kamar AikenWR25BALTBD$495,000RFA
Marlon MooreWR27CLETBD$435,882UFA
Brenton BersinWR24CARTBD$429,500ERFA
Frankie HammondWR24KCTBD$420,000ERFA
Drew DavisWR26ATLTBD$416,647RFA
Brian TymsWR25NETBD$378,529RFA
Kassim OsgoodWR34SFTBD$374,471UFA
Kevin OgletreeWR27NYGTBD$368,823UFA
David GilreathWR26SEATBD$318,000RFA
Greg OrtonWR28NETBD$303,000RFA
Joshua CribbsWR31INDTBD$301,764UFA
Bryan WaltersWR27SEATBD$268,235UFA
Jason AvantWR31KCTBD$251,471UFA
Deonte ThompsonWR25BUFTBD$100,588UFA
Solomon PattonWR24TBTBD$98,823ERFA
Gerell RobinsonWR25MIATBD$49,411ERFA

In this Section 215 Podcast segment, Somers Price and I take a look at the impending free-agents, and one other veteran who could find himself on the open-market, as options for the Eagles to upgrade their Wide Receiving corps.