REPORT: Eagles bring back preseason hero WR Deon Cain

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles helmet sits on a cart during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagle on December 22, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Filed in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing veteran wide receiver Deon Cain, according to a report. The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder is coming off a stellar season for the Birmingham Stallions, including three touchdown grabs en route to an MVP award in the USFL Championship Game.

Originally a sixth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, Cain was a surprise standout last year for the Eagles during training camp and in the preseason. He racked up eight catches for 106 receiving yards on 18 total targets. He narrowly missed making final cuts for the 53-man roster, then joined the team’s practice squad after clearing waivers. The 26-year-old speedster also worked out for the Tennessee Titans in November 2022 before moving over to the USFL.

Cain was a fixture on the Eagles’ scout team for two years and developed a nice chemistry with former quarterback Gardner Minshew. He had been battling for a spot in a crowded receivers’ room — and made a few circus catches in the preseason that moved the needle in his favor — until the team decided to keep only five receivers coming out of camp. He was later added to the practice squad after clearing waivers. Important note: Cain ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Eagles might be able to utilize his speed on special teams, especially as a playmaker on kick-off returns.

Eagles Depth Chart at Wide Receiver: Devon Allen Nursing Injury

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devon Allen (39) hauls in a pass for a touchdown past Cleveland Browns cornerback Lavert Hill (35) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Cleveland, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Eagles might be stashing Deon Cain in case Devon Allen’s calf injury is more serious than initially thought. The two-time Olympian had to withdraw from the USATF Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon after hurting his left leg. If Allen was forced to miss any extended time, then a spot might be open on the wide receiver depth chart.

While A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith return as elite starters — they both ranked on NFL Network’s Top 100 — there is a serious lack of quality depth behind them. Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus will battle for the starting slot job at camp, with Britain Covey the next man up there. The next best option? Greg Ward Jr. The rest of the roster is filled with virtual unknowns like Tyrie Cleveland, Charleston Rambo, Joseph Ngata, and Jadon Hazelwood.

Don’t count Cain out from snaking a roster spot. He has legit experience — appearing in 15 games, with 308 offensive snaps — during stints with the Eagles, Colts, Steelers, and Ravens. He has nine career receptions for 124 yards in the NFL, plus another 16 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the USFL.

“I have been working so hard for these opportunities and I am just trying to make the most of them,” Cain told reporters at 2022 training camp, via CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr. “I mean, you cannot really just go out here thinking about competition because we are in a great competitive room. Everybody is going to do what they got to do. I am just making sure I am handling my own and doing my job.”

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire