WR Update

Posted: January 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

The biggest question on offense is what will happen at WR. Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are free agents. Will the Eagles keep one, both or none? And then there is Jason Avant. He’s a descending player who the team might want to upgrade.

I was hoping to get a better feel for things while down in Mobile, but the WR position is a real mystery. Maclin’s ACL and Cooper’s off-field incident complicate things. The overall situation is tough to read because the free agent receiver class is so thin and the draft class is so deep.

Jeff McLane wrote an article on the situation. This is what he’s hearing.

Free agency is more than six weeks away, though, and a poll of coaches, executives, scouts, and agents suggested the Eagles would likely keep both wide receivers. As one NFC executive put it, “Who else will like Cooper as much as Chip [Kelly]?” And as an AFC coach posited, “Only the Eagles know how healthy Maclin is.”

Both Maclin and Cooper could get surprising offers from other teams. They are young, talented players with a good combination of size and speed. Maclin is the better playmaker. Cooper is more physical and the better blocker. Even with their issues, teams could see the value in signing them.

I tend to think both guys will stick around in 2014. Cooper’s issues are a thing of the past in the Eagles locker room, but wouldn’t be with a new team. Avant stood up for him in Philly. I don’t know that any player on a new team would do the same thing. Maclin is a tough player to get a read on even when he’s healthy. He is pretty much a very good #2 WR. Maclin’s best season came in 2010, when he went 70-964-10. He produces consistent numbers, but isn’t special in any way. Now he’s coming off an ACL tear. Maclin also tore that same ACL while in college so teams can’t just trust he’ll be okay.

Tim McManus wrote a piece on Maclin and his situation.

– When Maclin addressed the media a day after the Eagles’ loss to the Saints he informed us that he had started running, and that the next step in the process was to begin working on lateral movement. He has since reached that stage, we’re told. He is rehabbing multiple times a day. Per team policy he can only be at the facility during certain hours. When he is finished there he’ll head home to do more work. The knee is said to be responding well.

– Maclin’s agent and Howie Roseman have had some preliminary talks. It has been made clear that the receiver’s first choice is to stay in Philadelphia. That doesn’t mean it’s a lock that he is back. Maclin will probably have several suitors, some of whom might be willing to offer more years and money than the Eagles are. What happens if he receives a multi-year deal from Team X and only a one-year deal from the Eagles? Depends on which team we’re talking about and how much money is on the table. Maclin’s camp will evaluate each scenario from a variety of angles before making a decision.

This doesn’t feel like a “highest dollar” situation. Fit is important. The 25-year-old is open to playing on a one-year deal if need be.

One of the keys to this situation is that I think both players want to return. I could see Cooper being borderline desperate to return. He knows he can play well in this offense and with Nick Foles at QB. That means something after 3 years of inconsistent playing time and production.

Neither Maclin nor Cooper is going to sign cheap. Maclin might settle for a 1-year deal, but he’ll still expect a fair amount. Cooper might be looking at the only chance he’ll have to land a good deal. He will turn 27 in September. If he signs for 3 years, Cooper would be 30 heading into his next deal. Cooper needs to get the best contract possible this time around.

Maclin’s original contract was for 5 years and $12.7M. Cooper made just a bit less. His rookie deal was 4 years and $1.96M. So Cooper has earned $10M less to this point in his career. And he’s the older player.

Under the days of Joe Banner, the Eagles might try to really squeeze both players due to their situations. I expect Howie Roseman and the new Cap people to be a bit more reasonable. The Eagles will not overpay for either Maclin or Cooper, but I think taking the right tone can make a difference with both players.

As to Jason Avant, Tim McManus reports that the Eagles have to make a decision about him by March 15.

Complicating matters is that the veteran wideout is scheduled to receive a $1 million roster bonus, which kicks in the  fifth day of the league year (March 15). They will need to either release Avant or restructure his deal before then to avoid incurring that cost.

The day after the loss to the Saints, Avant said that he had yet to speak with Howie Roseman about his future.

“If they deem it important, they’ll reach out. At the same time, they don’t owe me anything. I’ve been here, playing as hard as I can, and that’s all I can ask from them,” said Avant, who has a base salary of $2.25 million in 2014. “I’m an employee, so that’s one of those things that if I am — how can I say it — valued, that will be something they will reach out and do. But at the same time, if they don’t, I’m appreciative for my time. And to all the Eagles fans, I had a ball here no matter what the outcome is.”

The Eagles need to upgrade Avant, but I hate the thought of getting rid of him. He’s smart, tough and a valuable team leader. If only he was a little bit faster. The problem with Avant is that he’s no longer help on STs and he isn’t gifted enough to play outside if a starter gets hurt. He is literally a pure slot receiver. Avant is still good at that role and he’s a great blocker, but I’m just not sure it makes sense to keep him in this offense.

It is going to be interesting to see how the Eagles proceed at WR.

* * * * *

I’ve posted a few thoughts on the Senior Bowl. I’ve not studied the tape yet. This was just my reaction to the game.

_


  • ACViking

    T-Law:

    Do you have a sense yet for who the 2 or 3 (or 4) best blocking WRs are is in this draft who also have the hands/size/speed/quickness/RAC ability (or sufficient combination) to play in the NFL.?

    Also, do you see Kelly looking for a traditional slot guy — someone who measures out like Robert Herron from U-Wyoming — to plug into this offense?

    I recall reading somewhere that, because Kelly moves his WRs around depending on the formation, a traditional slot guy — Welker/Edelman type — doesn’t fit.

    • Mitchell

      I’m really starting to warm up to Herron and would love to see him and Eagle. Like Greg posted above, it would be interesting if we drafting two WR’s this year.

    • anon

      Can it be that hard for a WR to learn to block downfield? Feel like it’s better to take raw RB talent (Mike Evans) and teach him to block, rather than take another cooper type talent that can’t separate or run routes.

      • Anders

        Cooper runs a 4.54 at 225, that is a very good size to speed score. Mike Evans is projected to run slower than that and he had problems separating in college where Cooper didnt have that problem, he just had Tebow throwing to him and played with sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much other talent and yet he was Tebow’s leading WR.

    • Anders

      Jordan Matthews is a great slot/possion type WR in the 2nd round.
      Josh Huff is for later rounds, Jarvis Landry for the 2nd/3rd (both are faster versions of Avant, with Huff even been a kick returner) . Cody Hoffman for the 4th and is also a bigger guy.

    • Maggie

      Forget the draft. Golden Tate, FA. Seahawks. Only player this year to produce more than 800 yards receiving and more than 500 yards PUNT RETURNING. Go to Youtube and watch THE HIT he put on Dallas linebacker, Lee. Watch him never give up on catch against THREE Packers DBs. Even if maybe the call as wrong, lol. Not a quitter. Tough blocker. SPECIAL TEAMS. Chip Kelly kind of guy. If he always hits like that, Philly kind of guy.

  • Patrick

    I kind of want to keep both of them around, but I wouldn’t be angry if we let one of them go or if we upgraded the position regardless.
    Oh, and watching the pro bowl, we should keep that Jackson guy, that was a kinda decent TD catch.

    • Maggie

      He had to fight for that reception, too. Not soft at all, in spite of those who imply that he is. And Foles was named Offensive MVP! I had to miss most of the 4th quarter, darn.

  • SteveH

    Speaking of WR’s, DSJ just went up and took one away from the DBs in the pro bowl. I guess we have our new possession receiver.

    • JJ_Cake

      The Eagles represented themselves fairly well. (McCoy and Djax, bad fumbles, but DJax has a TD, Foles drove well and had a TD, and Mathis did well blocking, glad he gets an extra $53K, I was disappointed Foles wasn’t able to be on the winning team. Brees sucked, and the grey D looked to be best for most of the game, but they just gave up during that last white drive; that sucked; but I did want to see what Foles could do to get them in FG scoring position. 67 yd FG would have be awesome).

      • Ark87

        If Justin Tucker nails the game-winning 67 yarder in low-altitude, Hawaii, he’s the MVP for sure.

  • A_T_G

    Jackson can occasionally play from the slot. If they resign Maclin and Cooper, can either of them work from the slot as their primary position? To me, Cooper seems like a no, and Mac a limited possibility at best.

    • Mitchell

      Like I posted above, what would you think of Robert Herron as the slot guy. He is short at almost 5’9″ but has a great build and weighs 190. Also runs in the 4.3′s I think with pretty good route skills.

      • anon

        pk/kr? if not, no

        • Mitchell

          That’s a good point, he hasn’t returned many in his collegiate career but Johnson was good as a kr in college and looked what happened in the NFL. I don’t see why he couldn’t.

    • theycallmerob

      IMO, that’s why I believe only 1 of the 2 is resigned. DJ, Mac or Coop, and Brad Smith return next year; 2 new WRs from draft and a FA will round out the roster.
      Also, I think Ertz will see many of the slot snaps next year.

    • Tumtum

      I seem to recall the biggest knock on Maclin by Eagles fans when we drafted him was that he had primarily played out of the slot in college (in a spread offense).

      • Mac

        I like Maclin in the slot if he can get over his Maclinitis.

    • Anders

      Cooper played some TE for us, so yes he could work the middle with that size

  • Greg

    Is it possible that we draft 2 wide receivers? Obviously not 1 and 2… but maybe 1 and something like a 4 or 5 by trading next years 3/4 or players…chip might want guys that fit his scheme better and we don’t have to worry about resigning both Mac and coop.

    • Mitchell

      With this team, I think anything is possible. A scenario some may like is Jordan Matthews early and Robert Herron later in the draft. Herron is a bit of an unknown right now but from what I saw at the senior bowl, in terms of route running, he will be a good slot. Not to mention he is a BURNER.

      • Patrick

        Yeah, nothing is impossible with Chip. I think if we end up going WR early in the draft, its because a stud falls to us, similar to when we drafted Maclin, but i think we will load up on late picks/UDFAs or low level FAs. Not only is Mac/Cool F/As, but Damaris is basically gone, Avant, Smith and Maehl needs competition, Benn is injured and Momah and Cunningham are JAGs

        • Mitchell

          Herron>Johnson

        • makarov123

          This is one of the best prospective drafts for WRs in quite some time. That said, there is a lot of potential space between Sammy Watkins and the next taken. Watkins should go top 5, then we might see 5 WRs more taken between 15-25.

      • D3FB
  • nickross23

    I could definitely see a scenario where both Coop and Mac come back to the nest. Maclin is the more proven commodity of the two Wrs, where I would have some reservations in paying Cooper not knowing if he’s a half a season wonder or a true ascending player. If Maclin is back to the level he was at before the injury the potential monster damage he could do in the slot with this offense is scary. As mentioned the WR class is so damn deep with talent you kind of almost have to take a guy if not for depth along. DJax played a full season for the first time in his career, but there’s no counting on that happening again. WR has to be Priority somewhat early on.

  • shah8

    In the case of Riley Cooper, I honestly think that it’s just going to be a soft sell on returning, since I strongly doubt Cooper will be strongly wooed by any team.

  • nickross23

    I’ve read some early draft talk on sites, and yes we definitely should focus on adding talented defensive prospects for sure but we shouldn’t just reach for need on a S,CB, OLB cuz we’ve all seen the result of that in the past. Drafting at 22 that impact defensive player might not be there but an impact WR might be. Sammy Watkins, Marquees Lee, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckman jr, Jarvis Landry,DeVante Adams and I’m sure I’m missing some names but could be 1rd options for teams. So I ask the questions, if you can’t find a deserving defensive player at 22 would people be upset if we went WR in round 1 or 2 with both Mac and Coop back in the fold?

    • makarov123

      I would love to get Allen Robinson at #22. If they cut Avant to avoid the roster bonus, Robinson could be the presumptive slot WR, leaving Maclin and Cooper to battle for the #2 WR spot.

      Robinson did line up in the slot a decent amount for Penn State. He is also no stranger to run blocking, and has decent size – 6’3″ 210-220.

      • Mitchell

        Decent size? He is a big ‘ol boy!

      • nickross23

        Yes absolutely.. Big body, deceptively fast and go up and get the ball while playing in a pro style system. He reminds me of Andre Johnson a little bit. I would be interesting to see how fast he times at the combine.

        • makarov123

          I’m not sure how “fast” Robinson is. Wouldn’t surprise me if he ran 4.5 at combine, but if he is closer to 4.4 I expect that will help his draft stock.

          • nickross23

            If he runs 4.4 or better our dream of him at 22 will be dead since his stock will shoot up and some other team would take him.

          • makarov123

            Might be a dream anyway. Saw one college draft analyst (think it’s a guy for BR) said he was thinking about making Robinson his first WR drafted after Watkins.

      • Anders

        I dont get the facisnation with Robinson and no way is he worth pick 22.

        • nickross23

          I respect your opinion, but in the day of the spread offense and rule changes geared towards the offense. Allen Robinson went from unknown prospect living in the shadow of Justin Brown to an absolute stud WR over night. Then he comes back for his Junior year and gets better. He posted better numbers, improved his route running, improve his focus and concentration with those 50-50 jump balls. Opponents new he was going to get the ball and still made some really great plays. I watched a lot of Sammy Watkins and he too is a stud but most of the time he’s running routes at the line of scrimmage to 10yrds down field. Not a lot of pro route trees in that offense. Marques Lee had a new starting QB and his numbers took a dive this past season where AR had a true freshman QB and improved. People like Mike Evans a lot but I think he is just a slow Tall WR that can out jump you but won’t run away from anyone.. These are just my opinion, but I believe that A.R when the scouting is down will have the least amount of holes in his game.

  • nickross23

    I’m a huge Allen Robinson fan after watching him the last 2yrs put up monster numbers with a former walk on as his QB as well as a true freshman. I’m rooting hard for him and would love to see him wearing eagles green. Truly believe he’s the best WR in this hrs class

  • Dragon_Eagle

    The legend of Nick Foles continues…

    • Baloophi

      I’m sure his agent is pumped…

      • Baloophi

        Also, I enjoyed Prime Time on the sideline dumping on his young QB’s and how he might have to put Luck back in the game.

        • ickymudd

          He was dissing Foles weeks ago when he and Rice were discussing Pro Bowl selections on the NFL Network.

        • Maggie

          Then it’s a good thing Sanders was not the actual coach, to decide who was going to be on the field.

        • JJ_Cake

          Yeah that ticked me off. Jerry Rice has tons more class than Prime Flop. The man gave Foles 3 plays before he starts dissing him, and one or two were rushing plays. Glad Foles got a chance to drive them for a TD and made some nice passes.

          I think Foles gave them a shot to get in FG range, not sure about the play call that had team rice overload and Blitz Foles, still with 1 time out and 5 sec, they should’ve tried a fast pass to get a little closer.

          Collinsworth was a nut sack as usual proclaiming how Awesome Cam Newton was with his size to push in for that 2nd grey TD…. uh, no. It was that Bear Guard that hugged Cam and pulled him in with him (plus Cam, not taking away anything from the dude); but a smart Guard and Cam made that TD happen.

    • theycallmerob
      • Mitchell

        ^badass

      • Baloophi

        Here’s your free truck! Now with taxes, registration and shipping to the mainland you owe us $9,500.

        • nickross23

          Yea he could of used that winning team bonus to help offset all those fees for sure

        • Maggie

          According to some people on some sites, Nick could DRIVE that Jimmy all the way from Hawaii! Lol.

  • Stanimal

    What does everyone think about Dexter McCluster if he hits free agency? He would be an immediate upgrade at our return positions and I think he could be a pretty good slot receiver in our system. Plus he has quite a bit of experience at RB so he could cause some matchup problems by motioning him in and out of the backfield.

    • Anders

      I would be very interested. He is a DAT type and Kelly loves that type of players.

    • Mac

      Not sure Andy would/will let him go. I think he is a very Andy Reid type of player (and I thought the Eagles might draft him when he came out).

  • Joe Minx

    Foles has to be pretty tired of seeing Jason Hatcher at this point.

  • Cafone

    I think the Eagles are going to sign Maclin because they would be crazy not to. As Tommy said, he’s a good #2 WR. We just saw what a marginal #4 receiver (Cooper) did in this offense. A healthy Maclin could tear it up next year. He could make Jackson even better.

    You can’t just pick up talent like Maclin’s off the street. The guy averaged 850 yards a year for four years straight, playing with an assortment of different QBs. I think people need to go back and watch some Missouri tape and remember this guy was our first round draft pick and we considered it a steal that he was still available. Yeah, I know some people have some issues with him, but there were a lot of questions about a lot of players after 2012 and most of those players answered them this year with improved play. I see no reason why Maclin won’t do the same and elevate his game when he gets a chance to play with the new Eagles.

    DeSean Jackson: career year. LeSean McCoy: career year. Riley Cooper: career year. You put a healthy Maclin in this offense and he’s going to have 1200 yards and Jackson is going for 1600.

    • Anders

      I honestly think a healthy Maclin would have had over 1400 yards with Jackson having around 1200 yards.

  • Anders

    I really hope the Eagles draft Jimmie Ward. Guy is the perfect hybrid safety/CB and is one of the best cover guys this year between both positions. Guy might not be the biggest, but he is enough height and with proper nutrition he can get up to around 205 pounds.
    It could be great if we pulled a 2002, but just at safety. Pryor in the 1st and then Ward in 2nd.
    Pryor, Ward, Wolff and Allen should be a good 4 safeties (one can do worse than Allen as 4th best safety) and with Ward able to be dime/nickle CB as well (actually able to play nickle against 2 te sets or actually play dime instead of using Chung on a WR)

    • GEAGLE

      Allen needs to play ST if you want him as a 4th safety

      We don’t carry fullbacks, which are ST players
      we only have 1 TE playing ST
      ..
      So you need your LBs and safeties to play ST….don’t see how Nate can be brought back

      • Anders

        Consider the draft is after the FA period and we have 2 TEs playing ST. I also do not see any reason why Nate cant play ST.
        I much rather have Allen as 3rd or 4th safety than a guy like Chung or Coleman.

        • GEAGLE

          Allen is going to be offered low end starter money. Chung got 3mil oncoming off a year he was benched…Allen will ATleast get Chung money, and we can’t pay that to a guy we will just want to upgrade.

          Doubt Nate is coming back. Obviously I would prefer Nate having years left on his is deal and Chung being the one who’s contract expired but that’s not the case.

          • Anders

            Chung will be cut imo and I think 2 mill is fair for Allen. Its not like Allen is terrible and 100% needs to be upgraded.
            Not like Allen+Byrd or Allen+Pryor would be bad

          • GEAGLE

            I can’t lie, there is a part of me that would like to see if Nate can build off this season..

            Starting to think Ward is the better value. Seems more durable then Byrd..

            I would love Nate back and Chung gone..but I would be lying if I said I expected that to happen…hopefully march gets here quick

          • xeynon

            No way, no how should they spend $2 million on a 4th safety. That would be a terrible use of resources.

          • Anders

            problem, you do not know if Allen will be the 4th safety as the draft is AFTER the FA.

  • GEAGLE

    Eagles NEED to upgrade Maehl and Damaris…
    ..
    Restructure Avant, draft two WR for him to mentor, replacing Maehl and Damaris

    Next offseason you replace Avant and Brad

    • Anders

      can you name me the 5th and 6th WR on any team in the NFL?
      Also why would you restructure Avant instead of just asking for a pay cut when he is in his last year of his contract?
      and yes we need to upgrade WRs, but it is much more likely to battle/replace Maclin, Cooper and Benn.

      • GEAGLE

        Damaris can’t sit on the bench and do NOTHING!! Your 5th and 6th WRs better be playing ST..

        I also don’t think Chip looks at it in the traditional, 3WRs that play, 3 that sit the bench…I think he will strive for 6 WRs stylistically different for each other, that he can rotate in and out depending on the package….

        Damaris brought nothing to the team..Maehl is ok on ST but not so good that can’t be replaced, and little upside as a WR. You can replace those two with rookie WR who bring it on ST but also have potential to grow into WRs that can help on offense

        • Anders

          yea, but I really doubt upgrading the 5th and 6th WR is a top priority over potential replacing Cooper and upgrading Avant, bringing 2 safeties, a 4th CB, NT competition, backup guard, rotational DE.
          I also think Damaris can contribute on offense if given the chance as he had a pretty good rookie year and is potential perfect for the Kelly offense.
          Also I think the Eagles will add at least 1 WR in the draft and maybe bring in 1 or 2 UDFAs

          • GEAGLE

            We like contending. I don’t see us drafting WR and starting them day one..I think we will want to remain contenders while transitioning to a new era..to do that at WR:
            Replace Maehl and Damaris with two rookie NOW. Ease them into the lineup like Ertz.

            Next year, replace Brad and Avant with two more rookies..the hope is by the next year ATleast two of the 4WRs develop into players that can allow us to transition away from Coop,Desean,Mac

          • Anders

            yea but why focus on the last two in the row when we most likely need to focus on at least the number 3?

          • Ark87

            At the end of the day, it’s a moot point. We’ve got to improve the WR position. We got a few WR under contract, probably going to add 5 or so over the course of the offseason (possibly Mac or Coop among them). We need to add talent to push our current guys down or off the depth chart, that’s the only goal. Fill out the roster, it will set itself. It’s up to Howie to get the best guys he can with the resources he’s got, not mix’n’match with the depth chart.

          • Maggie

            FA. WR and ST. See posting above.

          • Ark87

            The point is you don’t go out for a 4th 5th 6th or first receiver. You get the very best you can with the resources you got. No point in arguing for getting player X so we can dump player Y. You bring in the best 8-10 guys you can get your hands on and they decide which 5-6 guys make the roster and in what order. No sense in getting caught up in which receiver of whatever quality we should be replacing.

          • Anders

            Agree. We most likely draft at least 1 WR, but I could also see us not getting one at all. It really depends on who is else there

          • anon

            in the deepest wr draft you don’t want to draft starters?

        • fran35

          Agree here. Damaris needs to go. As for Brad Smith, bring me more. He plays great ST, is a capable WR and seems like a Chip guy. Love the signing

      • Tumtum

        Johnson must not be a scheme fit. He looked like someone who had a chance to be a real player when AR was here. Chip thinks differently of him, he does probably need to go. Mahl just caught the ball every time he was targeted. Happy to see what he can do with the benefit of an off season here. If he gets replaced thats fine too.

        • Insomniac

          or he just sucks.

        • Anders

          Its funny because outside of his ability to block because of his size, he would fit perfectly as a move WR in Kelly’s scheme

  • Frencheaglesfan

    I just wanted to say, I watched the game yesterday, foles was impressive but I agree with the non-believers, foles was not facing a top-tier defense, they were only probowlers.

    • Andy124

      Clearly, he was simply the beneficiary of a better offensive system than all of the other quarterbacks.

    • A_T_G

      The touchdown was all well and good, but where was the probing? Probowl secondary and he doesn’t throw even a single probing interception? That is simply unacceptable.

    • jshort

      130.8 Certainly not one of his better performances. Anyone notice if the other QB’s were intercepted (hehe).

  • iceberg584

    Release Avant and make him an “offensive quality control” coach.

    • Mac

      I would love this

    • the midatlantic

      Thing is, he can definitely get a job as a WR somewhere. Seems unlikely he’d give up the ghost at 30.

    • fran35

      …..Or an Eagles Ambassador.