Should the Philadelphia Eagles give Paul Richardson a call?
In the span of a single day, the Philadelphia Eagles went from having one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the NFL to being a play away from yet another mid-season call to Jordan Matthews for some much-needed help.
The first domino to fall was Marquise Goodwin, the Olympic-jumping speedster who opted out of the 2020 NFL season to stay home with his wife and young daughter (more on that here). While his presence will certainly be missed, as the Eagles clearly saw a role for his Tyreek Hill-ish speed even after selecting Jalen Reagor 21st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, family comes first and for the most part, Eagles fans online are supportive of his opinion.
In case you were wondering, Goodwin is still technically a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, and will have his contract rolled over to 2021.
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Then came Alshon Jeffery, who unsurprisingly will begin the 2020 season on the PUP list due to a late-season Lisfranc injury last fall. While his presence will certainly not be missed by a large segment of the Eagles’ fanbase, as his disdain among the fanbase may even surpass Al Horford at this point, it’s hard to argue the Eagles are a better team with JJ Arcega-Whiteside at the ‘X’ position after underwhelming by nearly every metric as a rookie.
*sigh* what are the Eagles to do? I mean, they already have six active wide receivers under contract who are borderline locks to make the roster in Reagor, JJAW, DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins. That sextet has a combined 178 games of NFL experience – though, to be fair, Jackson accounts for 155 of those appearances.
… yeah, I guess folding another receiver into the fold isn’t the worst idea, right?
Certainly better than trading a seventh-round pick for a third-string tight end.
But who could it be? Is there a starting-caliber receiver left on the open market who can make an impact on the Eagles’ receiving corps? Well, let’s evaluate the market, shall we?
Josh Gordon? Call me a fan but even I can’t reliably vouch for his ability to play a full season without fail. After his 2019 season split between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, I think it’s fair to say he needs to get his own stuff together before any team can reliably count on him to be a down-and-down starter for a full 16 game season.
‘What about Demaryius Thomas? In his prime, he was a beast with the Denver Broncos.’ Okay fair. Three years ago, when Thomas was a 29-year-old Pro Bowler coming off his fifth straight 1,000-yard season I would have loved his addition as a big-bodied target on the outside but he hasn’t been the same since suffering a torn Achilles in 2018 at the tender age of 30. As a depth piece with veteran leadership, there’s a ton to like about Thomas as a change of pace possession receiver coming off the bench but really, that’s about it.
Antonio Brown is also a free agent. Or maybe retired. Honestly, I’m not sure.
No, if the Eagles want to sign an external wide receiver with 60 or so NFL games under his belt, there’s really only one man for the job: Paul Richardson.
Richardson, a LA native who was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft after a successful stint playing wide receiver at the University of Colorado, initially cut his teeth as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, before signing a massive four-year, $50 million deal to join the then-Washington Redskins in free agency.
Was that contract a particularly good one? Well no, obviously not, as Richardson recorded fewer yards over his entire Washington tenure (507) than his final season with the Seahawks (703). With that being said, Richardson has good size, 4.40 speed, and at 28-years-old, there should be plenty of treads left on his tires for a seventh NFL season.
Like Goodwin, Richardson is a field stretcher who picks up yards in bunches. While his career yards per game are pretty low at 28.3, it’s only slightly below Goodwin’s 31. The same goes for the duo’s yards per receptions, with Goodwin edging out Richardson by an average of 3.9 yards but both routinely picking up first downs on roughly 40 percent of their receptions.
If the Eagles want the closest thing to a direct replacement for Goodwin on a low-risk, low-financial commitment deal, there really isn’t a better option on the open market.
Look, do the Philadelphia Eagles really need to add yet another wide receiver? No. Plenty of teams will start the 2020 NFL season with only five wide receivers on their active roster, but clearly, that isn’t the game Doug Pederson wants to play. Even after adding Jalen Reagor in the first round and John Hightower in the fifth, the Eagles still saw enough of a role for Marquise Goodwin to flip sixth-round picks with the San Francisco 49ers for his services. Could Reagor, Hightower, or even sixth-round pick Quez Watkins fill said role now that he’s opted out? Maybe so, but by adding Paul Richardson into the mix, the Eagles could vastly increase the chances of optimizing a new air raid look without having to surrender an asset or commit to an inflated deal long-term.