The Eagles’ need for a deep-threat has been a longstanding one, but now that need has become a desperate cry for a a receiver to tide them through torrid times. Alshon Jeffery is slated to potentially return in week 4, but if he doesn’t the Eagles would be without their number one, two and four wideouts. Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins won’t be returning to the field anytime soon and the Birds’ have to find a solution. Carson Wentz throwing to Nelson Agholor, Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter is terrifyingly similar to the situation he faced in his rookie year and Howie Roseman is under pressure to work some magic. The question is, who’s available? After scouring the free agent market, here are the names that stand out.
I’m not going to delve too deeply on this topic as I’ve already done so in an article I published on Sunday. However if you were to read the piece below and then factor in both the loss of Mike Wallace and the performances of any wideout not named Nelson Agholor, the decision to take a risk seems a little more logical.
Off the field controversies aside, Gordon still has tremendous upside.After catching 87 passes for 1,646 yards in 2013, Gordon turned everyone’s head and fixated it on his 6’3, 225 lbs, frame that just looked to explosive to contain. In the five games he appeared in last year, he still averaged over 18 yards per reception. A dominant deep threat who has the physicality to battle corners and punish them with crisp route-running, Gordon hasn’t lost a step.
For the complete picture however that takes a closer look at the inner demons Gordon has been and will continue to battle, read the article above.
I can already hear the angry chants in the distance as an Army holding pitchforks marches my way, but hear me out. Matthews was released by the Patriots due to a hamstring injury that looked like it would keep him out until October. By the time he resigns, he could be 1-2 weeks a head of schedule. The only reason the Pats didn’t designate him to IR was that they had several other injury concerns to handle that would’ve affected the team much more negatively. The openness to bring Matthews back midseason if he wasn’t picked up by another team was appealing.
Well, October is nearly here and a move to bring Matthews back may make sense. Heading into 2017, Matthews had the most slot receiving yards of any wideout since 2014 and did so during times of uncertainty. A flurry of quarterbacks, a change of schemes and a reliance and responsibility on having to be the number one wideout and the oldest on the depth chart saw Matthews meet every challenge and exceed expectations. With 2,673 yards and 19 scores during his time with the Birds, including that memorable touchdown reception to seal the deal in overtime against the Cowboys, Matthews simply produced whenever asked.
At 6’3”, 212 lbs, Matthews can use his body to his advantage and is simply a matchup nightmare for smaller nickel corners.
In his rookie and sophomore campaigns, he put up 8 touchdowns a piece, but was only able to manage 3 TDs in 2016. While it is concerning, the lack of playmakers on the Eagles’ roster can be somewhat to blame, as, defenses were able to really focus on Ertz, and Matthews in the redzone – not to mention a rookie HC, rookie QB, new offensive scheme, an under-achieving running game, etc.
Acquiring Matthews wouldn’t solve the Eagles need for a deep-threat, but it would allow Nelson Agholor to move back outside for a few weeks and give Matthews something he never had before, optionality. Defenses can’t focus on the middle of the field with Agholor outside, nevermind when Alshon Jeffery comes back.
It’s an unpopular opinion, but with schematic knowledge and a bond with Carson Wentz, Matthews pushing Agholor up the depth chart may benefit the offense in a huge way.
Maclin’s production has been dipping for quite some time now. A 440 yard season in 2017 highlighted this, with the former Eagles wideout being dropped by Kansas City after a 1,000 yard season was followed up by a year in which his production halved, before landing with the Ravens. The Birds did actually show interest in helping Maclin have one more stint in Philly before he chose to take his talents to Baltimore, so who’s to say they won’t make a call or two to bring him in for another workout?
Maclin wouldn’t be the deep-threat that the Eagles crave, but his presence would at least draw the eye of the defense away from Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, because leaving him unaccounted for remains a very dangerous risk.
The 28-year old fits Howie’s ‘free agent’ demographic perfectly, but saw limited action as a Viking, receiving for just 78 yards across 11 games. Forcing his way back into the NFL after a DUI in Arizona forced the Cardinals hands, his form just didn’t seem to follow him back. Still at the mid-point in his career, the 6’3 wideout’s road to redemption could well run through the City of Brotherly Love, although his dip in production along with off-the-field issues may present just one too many red flags for a team pressing the panic button. If they had all offseason to groom him through training camp, then this would be a much more appealing option.
The former Tennessee Titan had a chance at redeeming his own falling career with the Vikings, before being cast aside after a poor preseason showing. At 5-10, Wright is still a perfect fit for the slot and would provide the same injection of production that Jordan Matthews would, pushing Agholor and Gibson outside while an arguably crisper route-runner and deep-threats variant paces the middle of the field.
Wright caught 59 passes for 614 yards and a score in 2017 for the Bears and has been unable to show the jets and reliability he once did as a Titan. However, Trubisky often found solace in Wright over the middle as Wentz once did with JMatt. An affordable option that unlike Matthews, did play in the preseason
This link has been made over and over again and will likely be circled in bright red now that the need is dire. Perriman was a mystical bust on the Ravens behalf and managed just 77 receiving yards in 2017. The former first-round selection doesn’t have the numbers to back up what he can do and as a fourth-year player, still has plenty of growing room if he can thrive under a strong wide receiving coach. Gunter Brewer, who has worked with Dez Bryant and Randy Moss, fits that mold and the Joe Douglas link is a strong one. Would the Eagles risk bringing in a player who has shown very minimal signs of development in a time where they need someone who can go out there and produce at e moments notice?
The most unpopular name on this list for a number of reasons, Bryant’s days as one of the NFL’s best are long behind him, but he still put up an 838 yard season with 6 touchdowns in 2017. Let’s be honest, the Cowboys offense is an absolute mess and while that’s not due to his departure, it is on Scott Linnehan for running one of the most simplistic and predictable schemes in the league. Could you attribute his decline in production to this? Maybe.
Either way, Bryant remains unsigned with plenty of ‘diva’ like elements clouding his future. Teams don’t want to take on the baggage that Dez will undoubtedly bring with him, but there’s no denying his on-the-field talent when he’s at his best. I don’t think he’d take too kindly to being a WR2 under Alshon Jeffery, but if the Eagles really, really do have no other alternative, they know that Bryant will move the chains on a regular basis and open the offense.
Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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