The folding of the AAF has seen a flurry of NFL level talent pour back into the free agency market and it hasn’t taken teams long to start poaching one of the league’s most impressive talents. The Eagles are among the franchises who followed the developmental league closely and as a result, announced today that they have signed three players to one-year deals.
QB Luis Perez:
At 6’3, 222 lbs, Perez possesses a solid frame and the height that Pederson would typically look for in his quarterbacks, but the 24-year old has an interesting history.
Perez went undrafted out of Texas A&M Commerce last season and spent the Summer with the Rams, learning under Sean McVay (immediate eyebrow raise). Prior to his lone season at A&M Commerce, he played JUCO Football at Southwestern College, California. He was awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2017, labeling him the best football player in NCAA Division II.
Perez is probably best known for his most recent stint with the Birmingham Iron in the AAF, but he didn’t exactly set the league on fire. He was even benched at one stage and ended up completing just 52.3% of passes for a total of 1,465 yards, five touchdowns, six picks, and a 65.9 passer rating.
Purely a developmental quarterback, Perez would slot in behind Sudfled and Wentz to compete for the QB3 spot. Likely this year’s ‘Joe Callahan, Perez has plenty of upside, an interesting backstory, and impressed NFL scouts in the first few weeks of the AAF. A workout with the Eagles was all he needed…so is there another underdog story waiting to happen in Philadelphia?
WR Greg Ward Jr:
This name should be familiar to Eagles fans everywhere. The former Houston quarterback transitioned to wide receiver and spent the next two years on the edge of making the Eagles 53-man roster. After some strong strides in his development, Ward Jr. took his talents to the Alliance of American Football.
He didn’t necessarily blow the league up during his time with the San Antonio Commanders, but he recorded 22 receptions for 214 yards and more importantly, showcased an ability as a returner, bringing back nine punts for 135 yards, leading the league with an average of 15 yards per return.
At 23-years old, Ward is still extremely young and could be a viable option to compete for a spot lower down the roster. In fact, his recent experience in the AAF may only propel his chances, given that the Eagles already liked what they saw.
WR Charles Johnson
This is a HUGE win for the Eagles. Johnson was arguably the AAF’s most explosive receiver. Playing for the Orlando Apollos, Johnson led the league with 45 receptions and 687 receiving yards. His five touchdown receptions also ranked second in the AAF.
Johnson has a credible NFL resume, too. Before losing a training camp battle with the Jets in 2018 and landing in the AAF, the former seventh-round selection was most prominently known for his 2014 breakout in Minnesota, where he snagged two touchdown passes and 475 receiving yards. He stayed with the Vikings for three years, but the injury bug started to bite
He was in Jets camp in 2018, but was cut just before the start of the season. Johnson is best known for his time with the Vikings, as the former seventh-round pick grabbed 475 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his second season, in 2014. He stuck with Minnesota for three seasons after moving from Green Bay, to Cleveland, to Minnesota, but injuries haunted his promising start.
In 2016, he was named the starting wideout alongside one Steffon Diggs but he started out slow, catching just 3 passes for 20 yards. A 70-yard burst against the Jets one week later was promising, but not enough to build a consistently reliable case.
After bouncing to several other teams Johnson took a shot at the AAF whereas we now know, he stole the show. The 6’2, 216 lbs, receiver is now 30-years old, but is undoubtedly playing at a level high enough to compete as both Markus Wheaton and Reuben Randle had in previous years during the Eagles Summer. Johnson has every chance of snatching a roster spot if he can keep up his momentum and turn those short bursts of explosiveness into consistent play.
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports