The Philadelphia Eagles embark on an offseason that faces what it looks to be a complete retooling of the roster.
The first phase of focus comes with the rebuilding of the wide receiver room. Nelson Agholor is poised to depart via free agency, along with Alshon Jeffery’s reported falling out with the organization. DeSean Jackson’s first season back was cut short due to injury after giving the offense just a taste of his returned impact.
The Eagles’ second-round pick in this past 2019 NFL Draft was receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The rookie struggled mightily for the majority of his first season and, let’s face it, fell flat on his face. Mack Hollins lasted 12 weeks into the season before the team finally cut their losses with his lack of impact. Greg Ward was the unsung hero at wideout for Philadelphia after getting his overdue promotion from the practice squad.
It’s evident the Eagles need to add new faces heading into the 2020 offseason to their wide receiver corps. The team was aggressive the first time around when realizing quarterback, Carson Wentz, needed weapons at receiver to succeed during the 2017 offseason.
Philadelphia hit free agency with a boom and signed receivers Alshon Jeffery along with Torrey Smith during the first day. These signings resulted in Wentz’s best statistical season to date and poised for an MVP trophy before his season-ending injury.
The point is Philadelphia’s commitment to quickly provide their young franchise quarterback with skilled wideouts when proven necessary. After the sore lack of speed the receiver position showed in 2018 for the Eagles, Howie Roseman swiftly landed DeSean Jackson in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Roseman faces another similar situation as he prepares for the 2020 offseason. The Eagles need receiver help and need it badly. Alshon, even though it does not sound likely he remains on the roster, is out for half the season regardless. Jackson is 33 years old and is coming off a lost season. Ward has promise but is a depth option moving forward.
The best wide receiver poised to hit the open market is rival Dallas Cowboys star, Amari Cooper. Reports are even starting to surface about the Eagles’ interest in the young wideout.
Cooper would be an exciting addition, but one that seems to pertain to the fate of Jeffery. The Eagles either take a $26 million-dollar releasing or $16 million-dollar dead cap hit parting ways with their starting receiver while carrying a $15 million cap number with him on the roster. Cooper, on the other hand, is likely to command a new contract worth close to $17 million average per year.
The Eagles expect to have a little over $44 million in cap space this offseason, so in theory, making this switch is plausible. Given Roseman’s urgency to add around his franchise quarterback when needed also shouldn’t be overlooked.
Having both your top wideouts account for a cap number an upwards of $30 million wouldn’t be the wisest decision making. Moving Jeffery will also be a tricky maneuver, which could ultimately lead to his unconditional release. Now, if that is the Eagles’ plan, then his replacement should be eyed already. That very well could be Cooper.
Cooper is a very talented playmaker and a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver. He’s entering free agency at the age of 25, which still goes hand-in-hand with the youth movement in Philadelphia. His skillset is direly what the Eagles need to add to their receiver room, and there are statistics to prove precisely why.
Cooper is one of the most polished route-running wide receivers in the league. His footwork and double moves have taunted cornerbacks during his career, which helps maximize his separation, an area the Eagles receivers have struggled noticeably. The four-time pro bowl wideout finished with 79 receptions for 1,189 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns in 2019.
The Eagles need more down-the-field threats to open up the team’s passing attack, and Cooper has proven success in providing that specific aspect of his game. In 2019, the fifth-year wideout was second among all active wide receivers in deep receptions (20-plus air yards), catching 15 of those passes for 503 yards and five touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
Wentz was the fifth most accurate quarterback in the NFL in 2019, throwing deep between 26-30 yards range. Given Cooper’s success on such passes shows, even more, the attraction to pairing him with the Eagles’ gunslinger.
Cooper can also line up in the slot. The Eagles love moving their weapons all over in different formations, and Cooper possesses the ability for the offense to do just that.
Eagles receivers combined for 100-yard receiving yards in a game just four times in 2019, which is an absurdly low number. Cooper matched that number by himself for the Cowboys in 2019.
Dropped passes have plagued Cooper’s young career dating back to his collegiate career at Alabama, though this deficiency of his game has improved. Despite posting double-digit drops in two of his five seasons, Cooper was able to lower those numbers dropping seven on 86 catchable targets in 2019.
Cooper has tendencies from disappearing in games, which he’s counted on the most. Most recently was against the Eagles in a Week 16 contest in a must-win game. Cooper was targeted 12 times and finished with four receptions for 24 yards against Philadelphia’s weak pass defense.
Paying Cooper top receiver money is a significant risk. His proven inconsistencies have yet to disappear completely, which ultimately should hinder his overall market. The Eagles can’t afford any more mishaps at wide receiver. The team needs to provide Wentz with a consistent No. 1 option, and Cooper could be that, but it’s fair to question if he can remain the guy for an extended period.
Cooper would bring an exciting element to the Eagles’ offense and would offer an immediate boost to a wide receiver corps that desperately needs it. The money remains an issue, which is why I do not foresee a potential pairing of Cooper in midnight green.
Now things could still change over the next weeks leading up to the free agency period. Jeffery could be off the team, and the Eagles could look for an immediate impact on their top receiver spot.
The Eagles reportedly did have an interest in acquiring Cooper once during the 2018 NFL trade deadline offering the Oakland Raiders a second-round draft selection in 2019. Ultimately, Dallas won the Cooper sweepstakes, but Philadelphia could look to swoop in on a player they expressed interest in before if the receiver hits the open market.
My gut feeling is the Eagles look towards a stacked receiver draft class to cure their wide receiver woes long-term, but with reports coming out about the team being in the lead for Cooper’s services, where there is smoke, there could be fire.
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