And just like that, it was over.
After two seasons with a few bright spots but far more disappointment, Jalen Reagor’s run with the Philadelphia Eagles is done, as the former first-round pick out of TCU has been traded to Minnesota for a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick.
Surprising? You bet; while Reagor went from the Eagles’ WR3 to WR5 before camp even began due to the additions of A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal, he still received a ton of praise from both Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni for his efforts in training camp and ultimately made the initial 53-man roster over the likes of Deon Cain, Britain Covey, and Devin Allen. Still, once that trio all remained unsigned following the initial waiver wire period – Cain, as a vested vet, was never subjected to waivers – Roseman circled back to previous conversations about a Reagor trade with the Vikings and ultimately hammered out a deal.
On paper, getting back roughly comparable draft value for Reagor that Roseman gave up to acquire Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is pretty incredible; CJGJ is a certified baller who brings a sort of Allen Iverson-esque attitude to the field that will instantly make him a fan favorite at the back end of the defense. Still, it’s hard to look back on what Reagor was supposed to be and wonder why, oh why, he was unable to get there.
Jalen Reagor was supposed to be a long-time player for the Philadelphia Eagles.
When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Reagor 21st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, it felt important.
Sure, some, including the Vikings’ front office, immediately questioned the decision considering LSU’s Justin Jefferson was still on the board, but recall, if you will, where the Eagles were at that particular time; after drafting their X wide receiver of the future the previous year in the now-similarly traded JJ Arcega-Whiteside, the Eagles had a need for speed. They’d tried and failed to land the next DeSean Jackson since they said goodbye to the genuine article all the way back in the spring of 2014, and even after re-acquiring him in 2019, it was clear his health wasn’t going to be a 70 targets per season sort of player again.
In Reagor, the Eagles saw an opportunity to add straight-line speed, explosivity, and a dynamic athlete who could turn nothing into something during his run at TCU. Though opinions at the time were mixed on Reagor’s exact on-field projections, with PFF being particularly high on his abilities whereas Lance Zierlein of NFL.com considered him more of a fringe first-rounder, the general consensus was that Reagor had all of the tools to be the next great offensive weapon who could move across formations and attack defenses in a variety of different veins.
As comical as it may sound now, the idea of Reagor being used like Deebo Samuel was discussed by more than a few fans, and even if the two receivers don’t exactly have identical athletic measurables, surely a savvy offensive mind like Doug Pederson could deploy the former like the latter if he wanted to.
Unfortunately, it just never clicked.
While Reagor’s career started off with a bang, with the collegiate Horned Frog going for 55 yards in Week 1 and 41 yards in Week 2, he suffered a ligament tear in his thumb that resulted in a trip to IR and even after he returned, his game was just never the same. Reagor went from averaging 48 yards per game pre-injury to 33.3 over the final nine weeks of the season and finished out the year with a disappointing 396 receiving yards.
Fast forward to 2021, and things were supposed to be different; Nick Sirianni was supposed to be an offensive guru who specialized at wide receiver due to his own experience with the position. With DeVonta Smith in place at WR1 and fellow 2020 draft pick Quez Watkins providing speed out of the slot, it was only a matter of time before Reagor could feast on foes from a greater position of strength.
… except that didn’t really happen either. No, Reagor’s efficiency numbers dropped pretty much across the board, and he finished out the season with 97 fewer yards than the season prior. Sirianni tried him both in the slot and on the outside, and Reagor was even afforded a chance to return kicks and punts for Michael Clay’s special teams unit, but regardless of what opportunity was afforded to him, it never quite worked out.
Whether Roseman wanted to admit it or not, Reagor was never going to work out in Philadelphia, and keeping him around for another season was just going to lower his value and hurt his morale even more.
Look, saying goodbye is never easy; people make concessions and excuses for why things aren’t working instead of addressing the problem head-on, and will oftentimes stick around in a situation out of obligation even when it’s against their best interests. While the Philadelphia Eagles could have kept Reagor around for one more season and hoped that he would magically have a Nelson Agholor-esque come-up in Year 3 while deployed from the slot, it’s honestly better for all parties involved to move on now and finally look to the future instead of wrestling with a past regret of what could have been.