Should the Eagles replace Quez Watkins this offseason?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are loaded on offense. Two 1,000-yard receivers, an MVP candidate at quarterback, and a top offensive line mix into one of the most powerful overall groups in the NFL.

While Philly’s defense is sure to go through some key changes due to cap constraints, the majority of the offense in Philadelphia is expected to be back. 8 of 11 starters are under contract for next season. Add in the expected return of Jason Kelce (should he not retire) and the team could see the key majority of starters returning to an offense that was tied for the league lead in points.

Yet as the Eagles can certainly celebrate their successful season, there’s one major flaw in the offense, and it’s one that not only kept them from a championship but could spell key issues for the team in the future. And it turns out that weakness comes from the one place people least expect.

With AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, it’s hard to see just how a small position like the slot receiver could be such a major detriment to the team. In reality, though, it’s arguably the most underrated need for the Eagles this off-season.

Quez Watkins, after a very successful second year with the team, struggled in year three to make a positive difference. The former sixth-round pick certainly had his moments, but in general, Watkins failed to produce when his number was called upon.

Every time the Eagles needed him to make a play, he failed to produce. There was his key drop in Super Bowl LVII, his two weak attempts at a catch against Dallas, and the frustrating receiver screens that went nowhere.

Watkins showed a key flaw in the offense for the Eagles. They don’t need a top receiver to take plays away from Brown or Smith: they just need competence in the position where, if Hurts throws the ball, the team should have confidence that the said position would come up and make that play.

Late in the season, the Eagles chose to play Zach Pascal over Quez Watkins due to his ability as a blocker and strength in making tough catches when needed. Bringing Pascal back would be a smart and efficient decision for the Eagles.

But it wouldn’t be enough. Competency in the details is an important part of the Eagles’ offense. Taking the simple throw, simple route, and simple concepts have made it difficult to stop the offense when it’s done correctly.

Time for the Eagles to move on?

Simply put, what Watkins failed to do in 2022-23 was to show the competency that the Eagles needed. The team’s success came regardless, but against some of the top teams across the NFL, they need a player that can step in and help the offense in key ways.

Quez Watkins is a sixth-round pick. On that metric alone he should be considered great for the value he has already given to the team.

But as the Eagles championship window opens, so do the expectations of the players on the roster. And while Watkins was a great player for the rebuilding birds, that is no longer the case for the contending birds.

And if the Eagles are serious about building a consistent title contender, getting the slot receiver position right will go a long way to showing how long they can compete with the top offenses in football.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire