It’s a position group that hasn’t been the strength of this organization since the departures of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. While Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith both came and gave the Eagles some glimmer of hope, all has seemingly faded since 2017.
It’s been a dramatic period for Pederson’s wideouts. From the indescribable struggles of Nelson Agholor, to the anonymous quotes about a potential rift between Alshon Jeffery and Eagles QB Carson Wentz, it’s been as bad off the field as it has on it but the Eagles have a chance to turned that around for 2020.
The young receivers of the team showed how great this offense could be if they just find their fitting with Carson Wentz. They were part of the reason why the Eagles won the NFC East and now they need to be the reason that this offense becomes elite once again. Here’s a potential outlook on the teams WR position for 2020:
On paper, it will say that the veteran speedster played three games this season but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jackson truly played one game with the team and it was one for the ages. It couldn’t have been scripted better. The Eagles were down 20-7 at the half of their week 1 matchup against the Redskins until DeSean Jackson and Carson Wentz showed the world just how great they could be week in and week out.
Unfortunately, Jackson suffered a core injury that sidelined him for nearly the entire season. There’s no doubt that Eagles are a better team with number ten on the field but the difficulty of keeping a 32-year-old deep threat healthy will be rather difficult for them. Especially when he’s your only playmaker. There shouldn’t be any question whether Jackson will be wearing midnight green next year or not, the real question will be if he’s the only deep threat still and why.
This is a tough one. When Wentz and Jeffery are clicking, Alshon gives the Eagles a tremendous chance to win whenever he plays, but AJ has barely been able to find his groove in Philly since 2018.
Foles was able to breathe life into Jeffery’s lungs last year, but he’s been a bit of a non-factor since then. The unfortunate part in all of this is that no one really knows where AJ stands with the team, the organization, or their quarterback.
Philly embraced Alshon after he dropped a huge catch against New Orleans so why would he be so disgruntled? How much damage has that one reporter done to the career of the Eagles Super Bowl leader? It’s hard to say because once again, no one knows the truth about the “anonymous” player that continues to call Carson out through Josina Anderson. The likelihood that old number seventeen is no longer with the Eagles is very slim. Not many teams will be looking to absorb Alshon’s contract. But then again, it is Howie that’s running the offseason show, so anything could happen.
Agholor had a weird way of going out. He was sidelined for several weeks due to an injury to his knee. Agholor was once a Cinderella story for this Eagles team. He came in as a first-round pick with high expectations, became a troubled wideout that couldn’t track the ball, evolved into one of those feel-good stories, and then tumbled back down the Mountain.
Maybe the USC product needs a change of scenery, or maybe he really isn’t that good. There’s too much time in between now and OTA’s to wonder about this, but the fact of the matter is that Agholor is more likely to be released into free agency than any other wideout on this team and both parties may be better off. Agholor has failed to live up to expectations in 4 of the 5 years that he’s been here. If that isn’t a reason to walk away, then I don’t know what is.
Whiteside was drafted to be the Alshon replacement until he was “cross-trained” enough to be irrelevant. After missing a possible game-winning catch against the Lions, JJ became the latest resident in the Doug Pederson rookie doghouse. He barely saw any snaps until the end of the season. It took an injury to the team’s top three wideouts, the waiving of Mack Hollins and a desperate Philly team that just wanted to win the NFC East, for him to see the field. In the end, Whiteside came up huge for the team on multiple occasions. He showed his ability to track the ball against the Giants and even his often praised catch radius against the Cowboys.
2020 should bring nothing but great joy to the disappointing rookie. The Eagles will have a fresh face coaching his position and maybe a better mind at OC. One way or another, all eyes will be on JJ’s sophomore season with the hope that the young Stanford product will break out like the rest of the rookies from his class did.
Greg Ward Jr.
Ward brought the juice that Eagles safety, Malcolm Jenkins, often referred to. He had the most reliable hands in his position group. He was also smooth and crisp when it came to route running. One thing Ward did so well was finding enough space on the field that would allow him to maneuver around in hopes of keeping the offense moving. Ward should definitely have a guaranteed roster spot on this Eagles offense for next year, especially after the rapport he built with Wentz to end the season. Ward finished the season with 28 receptions, 254 yards, and one touchdown in only seven games. This young QB turned WR may just be the Eagles best kept secret heading into the 2020 season.
Davis didn’t get much work done on the field but he is still a very intriguing prospect that could make a huge impact in the passing game for this upcoming season. Davis had a huge catch against the Giants that was later called back due to a penalty on the offense. His familiarity with the players and system may be a huge advantage for him next season.
Burnet is another intriguing player just like Davis. He’s quick, sure-handed, and has the juice that his team’s youth movement needs. With his previous experience with the team during their most troubling times; seeing the possible impact that he can make may convince the front office to keep him around.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports