The Eagles made a surprising announcement today, parting ways with wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The former Titan appeared in 15 games for the Birds during his lone season in Philly, receiving for 392 yards and two touchdowns. Naturally, this move has several knock-on effects…so here are some thoughts on the Birds’ decision to part ways with DGB.
By now, we all know that the Eagles are strapped for cap space and have a lot of pending free agents who could well be seeking big paydays next year. By parting ways with DGB, the Eagles save $944K in cap space. Not only does this help them in the months beyond the end of the 2017 season, but it also means that they’ve stood behind the decision.
For instance, Jason Peters, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Ron Brooks are some of the names who have reworked their contracts in order to give the Eagles some slight breathing room heading into the new season. If the team wanted to retain DGB, this surely would have been the route to go down given that he had one more year on his contract with a similar cap hit. So why would they want to move on?
It’s a culture thing:
As strange as it sounds, culture is now a huge focus in Philadelphia. OTA’s and Mandatory Minicamp saw some of the most intense action that the NovaCare Complex has seen in the month of May for quite some time, and it all starts at the top. Doug Pederson has worked tirelessly to instill a competitive culture that demands the best of everyone. Competition at every position has helped spike the growth of many players on the roster already and means that come week one of the regular season, the Eagles will field a lineup of not only the most talented players, but those who wanted it most.
DGB, for all his athletic prowess and physical dominance, has always had a questionable work ethic…something that saw him pushed out of Tennessee to begin with. With Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith signed, the likes of Nelson Agholor and company would often be posting videos of workouts, training or simply motivating themselves for the battle ahead. DGB’s social media saw the inverse and showed a player who seemed more concerned with enjoying his life outside of Football.
While that doesn’t reflect his performances or attitude on the field necessarily, his early struggles, stumbles, drops, and near disappearances during the spring workout program certainly didn’t paint the picture of a player performing at his best…and at the end of the day, that’s what new WR coach Mike Groh demands.
The competition stiffens:
It was assumed that DGB was anything but a lock to make the roster, however that does now elevate the chances of those lower on the depth chart. A reportedly “struggling” Shelton Gibson, last year’s preseason leader in receiving yards Paul Turner, and undrafted former QB, Greg Ward Jr, will now be among those looking to make the most of a fresh opportunity. That competitive environment we mentioned that Pederson has instilled? It’s about to be turned up another notch with a spot in the Eagles WR pecking order up for grabs.
Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, and Torrey Smith may be among the favorites to make the final roster…but the truth is the rest of the roster spots are up for grabs. Training camp is going to be a lot of fun…but who will make the most of it?
Surplus to requirement:
Then, there’s the other side of things. The Eagles may have already had DGB’s replacement waiting in the wings. UNC star, Mack Hollins hit the ground running during OTA’s, with a source speaking incredibly high of his impact (despite being downplayed…)
“The minute the kid jogged on the field, I couldn’t stop watching him. He caught smoothly, he ran very well, and his cut ability was off the chart, he ran routes like a speedier, smaller wideout. The more I watched him, the more I liked him , the more I wanted to keep watching him. He is coachable and so the things he is flawed at, he seems to listen on. I liked his approach, and if you didn’t know where and when he was drafted, you would think he was one of these top-10 1st round picks. I know it’s only day one, but the Eagles might have a steal in him, they might have found a player who could be a star.”
The one thing that DGB bought to the table was size and the threat of being a redzone weapon. At 6’4, 221 lbs, however, Hollins is no slouch…and his average of 20.6 yards per reception demonstrate that he’s definitely more than just a one trick pony.
One other name to watch out for, is former UDFA Marcus Johnson. The 6’1, 207 lbs, prospect has shone for the second consecutive offseason following a rookie campaign that was cut short last Training camp by an injury. The team were hot enough on him to pencil Johnson to the practice squad…and now with Groh developing his skillset further, it’s time to shine.
The corresponding roster spot:
Doug Pederson announced at the end of Mandatory Minicamp that he intended to bring in former Tulsa QB, Dane Evans, to sit behind Wentz, Foles, and McGloin for the remainder of the offseason….but the tryout wasn’t signed to a contract after impressing during rookie minicamp. However now with a spot made vacant, the Birds have pencilled in the strong-armed signal caller.
This pro-style quarterback ended his career in stunning fashion. Evans completed 59.4% of his passes in 2016, throwing for 3,340 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. At 6’1, 210 lbs, Evans has nice size for a pocket passer, but has largely been inefficient when scrambling..actually totaling -29 rushing yards last year, fumbling twice. Evans will be competing for an eventual QB3 spot with Matt McGloin..but it will be a tall mountain to climb.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports