The addition of Jordan Matthews should be the first domino to fall in the process of “rebuilding” the Eagles’ wide receiver corps. While the Birds are still in the hunt for playoff contention this season, they need to subtly focus on the offseason as well.
The team came into the season with high expectations due to the addition of DeSean Jackson and for good reason. Jackson started the season with a bang after catching 8 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns but would miss the next seven weeks after picking up a core muscle injury. After playing in just 4 snaps against the Chicago Bears, Jackson ripped that muscle from the Bone and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in him being placed on IR and the return of a familiar face.
From 2014 to 2016, Jordan Matthews was the team’s most consistent receiver. In his first three seasons with the team, Matthews tallied 2,673 receiving yards on 225 receptions with 19 touchdowns.
The Eagles brass then traded Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills for Ronald Darby, a trade that for obvious reasons the Eagles won. Why do you ask? Well, they’re both on the team right now and were also last year.
Last season, Jordan Matthews added another spark to the organization by coming in and giving the team some juice after another collapse from the wide receiver group. He averaged a career-high 15 yards per catch last year and showed a lot of development in terms of being a physical route-runner who can handle outside duties.
The team has relied upon the likes of Mack Hollins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Nelson Agholor this season in the absence of Jackson (and Jeffery for two games). The trio has only accounted for 421 receiving yards in 9 games so far this season. Two of them dropped game-winning passes while the other has continuously looked like a deer in headlights at the line of scrimmage.
Of those three receivers, only one is guaranteed to be here next year but his ceiling will be limited due to the team guaranteeing Alshon Jeffery’s contract for next year. Odd move isn’t it? Outside of the ‘JJAW’ saga, Nelson Agholor’s contract is up and Mack Hollins will be on very thin ice.
DeSean Jackson is also likely to be back as he’s the only playmaker in this group right now, age is a non-factor for him.
Now, the team’s front office has to be efficient when analyzing the future of the wideout position. It can’t be based on analytics this time around, it has to be pure football intelligence. JJ will give you what Alshon already does next year but in a younger body. DeSean will give you the speed but you can’t depend on him to be “the guy”. Howie Roseman has to focus on getting his replacement but one position should be solidified with the one player they continue to neglect.
Agholor simply has to be allowed to test free agency waters and Mack will never be an efficient slot receiver, he just doesn’t have the interest in doing so. So why not finally sign Jordan Matthews to that long-overdue extension??
Matthews could be the right building block going forward. He’s what you want in a leader for the locker room. He has unconditional chemistry with the franchise QB and is also only 27-years old.
He showed the punch he can bring to the offense last season and barring any setbacks this year, I can’t tell you why they shouldn’t consider this move. It’s a wild thought, I know, but this team can’t afford to waste away Carson Wentz as they did with McNabb. He needs great talent around him, he needs a young deep threat, a trustworthy slot receiver, and the 50/50 receiver.
They possibly have two of those boxes checked already. The closing seven games will go a long way in deciding who returns and who doesn’t this offseason, with time running out for those on the edge to prove their worth.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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