Riley in Demand?

Posted: February 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 45 Comments »

This is the time of year when rumors run rampant. PFT had the rumor of the day, with Riley Cooper reportedly being in high demand. This isn’t a great free agent class of receivers so I could definitely see Cooper being a target of multiple teams. Here is the PFT report.

Cooper is due to become a free agent.  Per a league source, the man who slid into the starting lineup after Jeremy Maclin tore an ACL in the preseason, will have a significant demand for his services if/when he hits the market.

That sure sounds like something that came from Cooper’s agent, but whatever. It does makes sense. Cooper is a young player and is coming off his best season. He could be an attractive free agent target.

There was another part of the report that I wasn’t so keen on.

Cooper’s Chesney concert misadventures won’t be complicating his next contract.  The shouting of a racial epithet quickly faded into memory after a short, self-imposed exit from training camp.

How the heck can anyone write that with a straight face? As we’ve discussed plenty of times, Cooper was able to work through the concert incident in large part because of strong support from a handful of key teammates. Jason Avant really stood up for Cooper. Michael Vick did as well. That mattered a lot.

Cooper walking into a new locker room is completely different. Those players won’t know him. They will know his football highlights, but will likely better know him from the horrible racist tirade in the concert video. Cooper will have to overcome that in a new locker room. He had to do it to a much less extent with the Eagles last summer. Being a new guy in a new locker room throws a major complication into the situation. Whatever coach and GM sign him would have to sit before the press and answer questions about the video. That’s mostly a forgotten subject in Philly, but would be front and central on a new team.

I really can’t believe that Mike Florio, the king of conspiracies and crazy story angles, really thinks that story would be a non-factor. Crazy.

* * * * *

Tim McManus spoke to Brian Baldinger to get his take on some free agent targets for the Eagles. As usual, Baldy said some interesting things.

On OLB Brian Orakpo…

I think he’s just a solid outside linebacker. I believe he’d be a great fit opposite Connor Barwin. He plays the run well, he’s strong at the point. I know in 2012 he got hurt but for the most part he’s been very durable. And when he’s durable he’s giving you 10 sacks or more a year and I think that’s what you’re looking at. I think Connor and Orakpo, if they lined up and played 80 percent of the snaps next year, I think you would get 20 sacks out of those guys.

20 sacks? Barwin had 5 sacks in 2013. Orakpo had 10. They would need to match those totals and add an additional 5 sacks. That seems highly likely. Right?

Baldy mentioned QB Josh McCown as a free agent target. I think most people would be in favor of that. McCown was terrific in 2013 when he played in place of Jay Cutler. The problem is that McCown is an older guy that may want to go somewhere that he can fight for a starting job in 2014. I think a few teams could have interest in him. McCown also may stay in Chicago, since he knows he can thrive in that offense and with those receivers.

* * * * *

Speaking of 2014…check out this projection of the Eagles based on DVOA.

Chase Stuart of Football Perspective projects the Top 5 teams like this:

1. Seattle – 10.5
2. Denver – 10
3. Philadelphia – 9.5
4. Carolina – 9.5
5. San Francisco – 9.4

Some comments.

It’s important not to infer too much from tables like these. The only inputs are 2013 DVOA grades, and the formula doesn’t know that Robert Griffin III should be a lot better this year or about Houston’s draft picks, Oakland’s cap room, or Green Bay getting twice as much Aaron Rodgers in 2014. But what’s interesting to me is the teams that stand out as different from their Pythagenpat ratings. Here are some thoughts:

The Eagles are projected for nearly one full win more using the DVOA projection (9.5) than Pythagenpat (8.6). That makes some sense, I think, because Philadelphia had excellent offensive pass and rush DVOA grades, and the below-average special teams grade doesn’t mean much. Philadelphia did rank 4th in points, but I think their DVOA grades are farther from the mean than their points scored number indicates.

Stuff like this is just for fun. There are no guarantees that the Eagles will remain a winner next year. Still, it is fun when the computers have nice things to say about your team.


45 Comments on “Riley in Demand?”

  1. 1 Joe Minx said at 12:19 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Unrelated to this topic, but I just saw that Nolan Nawrocki’s infamous “list” is out. I guess it’s just not draft season without his annual parade of character assassinations.

  2. 2 SteveH said at 12:52 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Yeah, I think character evaluation is really important (if you want to avoid the Ryan Leafs of the world) but his takes seem superficial at best, and I think that’s a generous description of his work.

  3. 3 Media Mike said at 6:00 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Agreed. Nawrocki is, at times, correct about players. He doesn’t seem to be thorough enough on giving context to his statements.

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 7:57 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Jimmy Bama better be on the list. Terrible character.

  5. 5 Flyin said at 1:04 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Riley was never targeted for revenge for his comments, as some thought. The story is in the past. People make mistakes and he took full responsibility. It seems the masses have moved on. I don’t understand why this story would be as big as you think.

  6. 6 Media Mike said at 5:58 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Because the second any team other than the Eagles signs Cooper the local news organizations will run that Chesney clip and everybody on that team will get texts from friends mentioning it. That story will pop up on Cooper several more times.

  7. 7 Flyin said at 12:18 AM on February 19th, 2014:

    Maybe they should run this clip too…

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 7:56 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    The story is in the past for the Eagles. It would be front and center for a new team.

    If the Eagles signed a white LB that had been taped screaming racist threats, how do you think Shady, DeSean, Jason Peters, Trent Cole and Cary Williams would feel about him? They don’t know this player. All they know is the infamous incident. You can bet those players would be awkward around the new guy. And you can bet the media would be asking “Are you comfortable playing with that guy?” The issue would be talked about quite a bit, and rightfully so. That would be newsworthy.

    If Riley stays in Philly, this is basically a non-issue. The incident has been covered here and with these players. Him changing teams makes all the difference in the world.

  9. 9 eagleyankfan said at 8:31 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    so all that science, all those formula’s predict the teams that did well last year — are predicted to do well this year? Talk about knee deep horse-sh**.

  10. 10 bill said at 8:33 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    I think the epithet incident is more of a headache for the organization than it will be for the locker room that signs him (other than PHI) – players seem to be able to deal with arseholes in the locker room all the time. “I don’t have to like him, just play with him.” etc. Those headaches could still suppress his market, depending on all the circumstances with the teams that would be interested, but I think more than anything, the demand for Riley isn’t going to be that great because of the strong draft class this year. Anyone who wants Riley measurables at WR can be pretty confident that they can get one in the draft, even in the mid-rounds. Draft pick = cheaper, more upside, same risk (Riley may be a flash in the pan, may be only productive in Chip’s system, etc.)
    I think Riley has value to Chip and the Eagles, because he’s more of a known quantity here and they don’t like going into the draft *having* to draft at a position (which I think if there’s no Riley, they must draft/sign a big WR that can be expected to play significant snaps in 2014). So I predict that the Eagles give him more money than most around here expect, but not because there’s some kind of bidding war going on. They’re going to pay him what he’s worth to them. The interesting part will be how they structure it.
    Obviously, I could be wrong, but I agree with Tommy – this “source” is most likely Riley’s agent or related pawn trying to improve Riley’s negotiating position.

  11. 11 Michael Winter Cho said at 9:57 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Never having played team sports, both the Riley and J. Martin incidents do make me wonder whether they have been more important for PR and the media than the teams. I imagine players are cursing and hazing and abusing each other more or less constantly (kind of like a slightly tamer prison). I also would guess players from the South are used to hearing the “N word” quite a bit, I sure did when I had the misfortune to live in South Carolina and then Georgia. These are locker rooms after all, not corporate call centers. That being said, just speculation on my part.

  12. 12 bill said at 10:14 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my feel too. And, like you, it’s pretty much pure speculation given what we’ve seen over the years. I think the egos + competitive drive + stress + normal personality conflicts make 53 man locker rooms a very conflict filled space in general. Probably by the time you make the NFL, though, you’ve learned to deal with it reasonably well and focus on performing on the field.

  13. 13 theycallmerob said at 10:18 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    It is funny Florio cares so little about that Riley incident now, since he was the one to report last summer that the Eagles were about to cut Cooper (had Maclin not been hurt)

    Sheesh, Florio’s such a hack, he almost makes Kemspki look competent 🙂

  14. 14 Tumtum said at 10:48 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Ubaldo Jamienz! Hope he is healthy!

  15. 15 Dave said at 10:59 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    I think some (both media and posters) may be too quick to dismiss Riley’s skill set as something that can easily be obtained with a mid-round draft pick or mid-level free agent. As with the QB position, it is very easy to label a position player by height, weight, speed, strength, etc. How about the intangibles?

    Riley offers something only Zach Ertz appears to have on the current roster, the ability for the QB just to throw the ball up and have his receiver make a play either by body position or via jump ball. This skill set is highly important in 2 ways; it allows the QB to get rid of the ball under heavy pressure, and it is the most useful attribute in the red zone.

  16. 16 Tumtum said at 11:10 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    Seems to me Desean has caught the most “thrown up balls” on the team since Riley has been here, including last year. He can track and play the deep ball way better than he gets credit for.

    Riley is okay, but I still don’t think he is all that good. Disappeared all to often last year. Couple that with his track record of sub par play, and I think someone with real talent would beat his production in this offense. Someone like Maclin. I don’t feel like you sign both guys. So bye bye Riley.

  17. 17 TheRogerPodacter said at 11:32 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    i agree. i think the big knock on Coop has been his inability to play as big as his size – that is, use his body to shield the defender away from the ball giving him the opportunity to make the catch with his size and strength.
    maybe he showed some more of that this year, i’m not sure. i think there were a couple of TDs that were more or less jump balls? i’m not sure.

    i think his success this year were more the result of constant single coverage than his ability to go up and get the ball out of the air on jump balls.

  18. 18 shah8 said at 1:55 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    But hey, at least he’s a great centerfielder!

  19. 19 Mac said at 5:55 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Are suggesting we give him a shot at safety? Haha

  20. 20 Buge Halls said at 5:28 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    The only times Cooper “disappeared” in his time in Philly is when Vick was on the field and refused to throw the ball his way! As soon as Foles took over, Cooper flourished. I think this is because Vick likes to have his receiver already open before he throws that pass (which coincidentally leads to a lot of sacks waiting for things to open). Foles will throw to the receiver before he makes his break – more balls thrown to Cooper = more catches. I wouldn’t blame any of this on Cooper.

  21. 21 Tumtum said at 5:31 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I disagree. Just about to turn the lights out and go home. Maybe I will look up some stats to back that claim up.

  22. 22 fran35 said at 12:54 PM on February 19th, 2014:

    I disagree completely. Case in point: the Vikings game where Desean didn’t battle for the ball and his teammates got on him. I think the one thong that Riley does well is use his size. As far as consistency, from Week 6 on-this is Vick’s first game out- Cooper let the team in receiving 5 times. Jackson 4 times from that point on. And I won’t even touch the TD and red zone topic where Jackson is poor an Coop does well. My opinion: Cooper is essential to our offense. He lacks elite athleticism, but he has elite size and is elite with the ball in the air. Just my opinion, but I would much rather have Cooper than Maclin. Maclin is very soft, Desean is tiny and takes plays/games off. I want a guy who will fight for yards, go up and catch contested balls and block downfield. Coop is all of that. Is he elite? No-but he’s damn good and has a chemistry with our Pro Bowl QB.

  23. 23 Tumtum said at 5:27 PM on February 20th, 2014:

    Well firstly I was not comparing Desean to Riley, simply saying he caught the most “thrown up balls” since Riley and he have been on the Eagles together. I am not going to go back and watch film because I do not have the want and desire, but I can think of maybe once when Cooper caught a really contestable ball this year. If Nick puts it where its Riley’s or No-one’s… that is not contested. Sure he has to make a nice grab on it, and he did that numerous times this year. Fact remains the guy has used his size to “box out” the defender maybe 3-4 times in his career. Desean caught 3-4 deep balls this year where it was anyone’s ball.

    Though I was not comparing the consistency of the two players, I will bite since you did. **For the record I think Desean is far too inconsistent.** It is very convenient for your argument to leave the first 5 weeks out of the equation when Desean was leading the league in receiving with 28 for 525 and Riley was a mere 8 for 93. That’s fine though, I’m okay with leaving that out.

    After week 5 Riley Cooper had 5 games with less than 50 yards receiving to Desean’s 4. Riley had 39 catches to Deseans 58. Though, Riley the great RZ threat, did manage to beat desean in TDs with 7 to……….6. Just for good measure Riley had 742 yards from week 6 on, while Desean had 807.

    In summation: Riley had fewer catches, and yards for the rest of the season including and after his “coming out” game. He did manage more TDs but he also had more games where he “disappeared” with less than 50 yards.

    So when Riley is at his absolute best he is less consistent than a receiver I find to be frustratingly inconsistent and one dimensional. The one dimension to which I am referring for desean is as a Deep Threat. Despite Desean’s lack of dynamics he was still able to catch only 1 fewer TD than Riley the RZ monster. Just for good measure Desean’s DYAR is 350 to Riley’s 218….if anyone knows what the hell that means. Riley is a nice player but he is nothing special IMHO.

    Also I didn’t quickly and easily find a stat on this but I would be willing to place some cashola on the fact that Desean had more RZ TDs from week 6 on than Riley did.

    What say you?

  24. 24 Vick or Nick said at 11:33 AM on February 18th, 2014:

    I don’t think anyone in Philly will be depressed if Cooper signs else where for more money.

    I know I wouldn’t care. Cooper was a solid fill in, who mainly had a few exceptional games. You don’t over pay for solid play.

    I would be more worried if we lost Maclin. I still think he’s got a lot to prove, will play with a heavy chip, 2014, if he’s healthy, will be his best.

    There’s at least a handful of receivers in this draft that I would take over Cooper.

  25. 25 Andy124 said at 12:25 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I don’t agree with your first sentence at all.

    For one, I think Foles would hate to see him go.
    For two, if Maclin has already signed elsewhere, losing Coop will leave plenty of people depressed.
    For three, I’ve seen plenty of people ’round the webs who value Cooper over Maclin straight up.
    And finally, I really don’t think it’s safe to generalize the opinion of an entire city or fan base.

  26. 26 gherbox said at 5:14 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Not that I dont like or value hwhat he did but Im not really losing any sleep over the possibility of him leaving. I say give Maclin a year to show what he can do in Kelly’s offense and draft a bigger WR..

  27. 27 Andy124 said at 5:23 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Im not really losing any sleep over the possibility of him leaving.

    I’d be worried about you if you were. 🙂

    I honestly don’t know which receiver is best for this team. There are pro’s and con’s to both. Maclin, if he’s as good as he used to be, is better at getting open. Cooper is more physical and a better blocker. Maybe he’s better on deep balls? Maybe Maclin has better hands? I think they both have great chemistry with Foles. I think all receivers have great chemistry with Foles.

    It’s just a bit of hyperbole to claim that there isn’t anyone who would be disappointed with Cooper leaving and I felt the urge to point it out.

  28. 28 Vick or Nick said at 6:55 PM on February 19th, 2014:

    Sorry. You’re right. I don’t want to put words in people’s mouth. People have enough words already for that.

    Again, I won’t be losing sleep. And I believe the majority of Eagles fans won’t either. Riley had a good season but there is no way Eagles should be in a bidding war for him. If someone wants to pay him in the area of 5 years 35mill. I’d let him walk. Im sure the Eagles will too.

    Again, This draft is full of talented WRs. There are a lot of FA’s at the WR position as well.

    Riley comes back cheap/reasonable. Or not at all.

    I agree losing both Maclin and Riley is not ideal but also not anything Roseman hasn’t already considered. He knows its a possibility.

    Regardless, I expect Eagles to sign a WR in free agency (whether its their own, or outsider) and Draft a WR relatively high.

  29. 29 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 12:39 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Silly season may be upon us…

  30. 30 Mac said at 1:12 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I thought it started when people were talking about trading a pick for Dion Jordan… lol

  31. 31 Weapon Y said at 3:18 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I would be pretty disappointed if Cooper left, but I’m betting he does end up leaving. Granted, you can’t go by media reports on everything, but Maclin seems to be the Eagles’ top priority. To keep Maclin, I’m betting they’re going to spend $7 million to $8 million per year. That brings down the cap to $13 million at best. There are a few veterans who you can cut like Avant, Casey, and Chung; if you did that, you’d save $7.5 million. That brings the cap to $20.5 million at best. The Eagles still need to spend money on guys like Cedric Thornton (about $2.5 million; slightly less than what Cox makes) and Donnie Football Jones (about $1 million). Down to $17 million. Keep in mind, because Chung is gone, the Eagles have exactly two safeties: Earl Wolff and Keelan Johnson (who probably won’t be on the team anyway). They can bring back Nate Allen or sign a new free agent, but either way that will cost at least a few million. I’m betting they will fork out money for at least one legit safety like T.J. Ward, Jairus Byrd, Chris Clemons, or Donte Whitner. That will cost $5 million at least and $9 million at most. Let’s go a little on the conservative side and say it’s Clemons for $6 million. So with just Clemons, we’re down to $11 million. The Eagles still need to pay rookies which will cost about $5-7 million. We’re down to the single digits. That’s called your rainy day fund. Money to spend in case of an emergency.

    If you want to keep Cooper, you’re going to need to fork out about $5 million per year. The Eagles simply don’t have the money to do that. Unless something shocking happens like a veteran OL like Peters or LB like Ryans gets cut, the Eagles are simply choosing between Maclin and Cooper. As much as I want to keep both of them, one of them has to leave.

  32. 32 theycallmerob said at 4:06 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Yes, those are all valid (and in my opinion, pretty accurate) estimations of future contracts. Not to mention Kelce, and Foles down the line (hopefully). But you’re also only using the current estimate of 20.5mil as your starting point, with the roster and cap set as is.

    Without even cutting some of the guys you mention, like Peters and Ryans, much can be done with other cuts and simple restructures, like I believe DJax will get:

    Whether cut or restructured, there’s no way the Eagles are going into the season with DJax at $12.75m against the cap, Avant @ $4m, Celek($4m), Casey($4m), Peters($10m), Ryans($6.9m), Cole($6.6m), Graham($3.3m), and Chung($3.25m).
    Not saying all of those guys, but some combination of those numbers (we play around a lot at 24/7) could save anywhere from $10mil to $25mil against the cap, depending on how many guys leave from that group.
    There are also future outs for “big” #’s like Barwin and Sconces, and if Cole comes off the book there are no real big $$$ contracts after next year aside from Shady and DJax. Both are in their prime, and I assume the best contracts they’ll have ($-wise).
    All that said, Eagles couldn’t be in a better situation, even with the next few years in mind. All this is done by a GM for that brief hope that a player like Byrd, at a position of need, actually hits the open market in his prime.

  33. 33 Weapon Y said at 7:08 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Restructured contracts are definitely a possibility. I’ll agree with that. This plan depends on acquiring young talented cheaper players who can step in and be upgrades over the older expensive ones. All valid points and an excellent counter to my post.

  34. 34 TheRogerPodacter said at 4:28 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    just wanted to post this so more people will hopefully read it.

    Jason Avant looks to have written a guest column for MMQB and its pretty good. one little nugget i liked:

    “Hazing, to some extent, happens everywhere. For example, with our team, rookies are in charge of buying chicken or barbeque before road trips. The total cost is something like $100.”

    i think this is actually kind of funny. i don’t know if i would really call this “Hazing”, but it certainly could be in the right (wrong?) light. on one hand, it is something to bring the guys together and maybe thats not a bad thing. plus, i think even the rookies can team together for $100 for each of 8 road games haha

    another point – i’m surprised Chip lets the guys eat fried chicken and bbq with the whole nutrition plan nowadays.

  35. 35 Buge Halls said at 5:34 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    The problem starts when those $100 meals start becoming $200, then $500, then $1,000 and on up. We’ve all heard the stories of rookies having to buy their position guys dinner and the vets start buying $1,000 bottles of wine. This kind of stuff can get out of hand real fast. And then the next year it gets worse because the guy wants to get revenge on the new rookie – and on and on…

  36. 36 D3FB said at 6:23 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I think it also depends who the player is. If the Oline had Lane take them out to a big crazy dinner where he ended up spending 10k that’s ok. But if the DB’s tried to make Earl do it that’s a whole different story.

  37. 37 Corry said at 6:33 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Ideally, I’d like to see Cooper back on the team, but if I’m Howie, I’m not going to get into a bidding war for his services…unless we’ve already lost Maclin. Even then, though, I’m not sure I’m willing to break the bank to keep him.

    If it were up to me, both Cooper and Maclin come back and with Jackson form a solid receiver corps. I’d like to draft a guy early and let him duke it out with the guys battling for the 4th, 5th, and 6th(?) receiver spots.

  38. 38 D3FB said at 8:27 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Thought I’d share this great video further proving Collinsworth is wortheless.

  39. 39 Mitchell said at 10:10 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    And some call Jimmy Bama a hack…..

  40. 40 A Roy said at 10:29 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Probably was Tommy.

  41. 41 Mitchell said at 10:29 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    Lol that’s the joke

  42. 42 GvilleEagleFan said at 1:40 AM on February 19th, 2014:

    Honest question: with as many of these plays basically being Nick holding the ball for 4+ seconds (I have a vague impression of a Jimmy piece criticizing Vick for holding the ball too long that stated a release time of less than 3 seconds is desirable) how is what Nick is doing in this video different from what Manziel did all year?

  43. 43 D3FB said at 1:49 AM on February 19th, 2014:

    My coaches always told us if you can’t hold a block for 3 seconds get off the field. If you give up a sack after 5 seconds, that’s not on you. Alot of Nick holding the ball is him going through multiple progression. That’s one of the beauties of the Eagles offense that most of the checks that many offenses make pre snap are made on the fly by the QB.
    The difference between Nick and Manziel is the offense they played in. JFF was playing in Sumlin’s offense which is a derivative of the Leach Air Raid. The Air Raid is designed with routes that depending on the coverage something will always be open (on the whiteboard at least). Johnny would make one or two reads but be focused on a reciever for multiple counts, and then would run around like a chicken with his head cut off and make plays.
    All that said I do like JFF.

  44. 44 GvilleEagleFan said at 1:52 AM on February 19th, 2014:

    I initially didn’t want him for us in any scenario (not that I think it’s possible that we get him) because of his reputation for playing “outside the system,” but maybe a simpler post snap read system like Kelly’s would be able to make use of his improvisational running abilities as a second option by design. Now I almost think it’s a shame he won’t end up on our team.

  45. 45 ICDogg said at 8:47 PM on February 18th, 2014:

    I have a hard time believing Cooper will get more than $4.5M/yr from any team.