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.
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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.
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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
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.