The Eagles have made plenty of notable moves since the start of free agency, but you’ve probably noticed that they haven’t added a wide receiver.
There are a few reasons for that.
1. According to Howie Roseman, the team views its current receiver position differently (i.e. more optimistically) than the public.
“I don’t necessarily feel that the cupboard is as bare as maybe you’re describing,” Roseman said on a conference call Thursday. “That doesn’t mean that we’re ready to roll there because we’ve got to look at every opportunity but I think when we look at the skill positions as a whole, we got some talent there and we’re going to try to look as we can at every avenue to try to improve it.”
When the Eagles’ GM said that, he was talking to me. And, I’ve gotta tell ya, I’m not convinced.
The four players Roseman brought up while trying to instill some confidence in the Eagles’ current receiver group were Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward.
It starts with Alshon, whom Roseman called “the elephant in the room,” but then he got into the other three as well. They feel like they “have a good plan going forward” with Jackson. They’re hoping for a big Year 1 to Year 2 jump for JJAW. And Ward showed them in limited action last year that he was a player.
Yeah, that’s a tough sell for me.
• Alshon Jeffery is a 30-year-old receiver, coming off a Lisfranc injury, whose production has been dropping in recent seasons. On top of that, there are certain chemistry concerns and an albatross contract.
• DeSean Jackson had one great game last season but is a 33-year-old speed receiver coming off a core muscle injury and surgery.
• J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was a disappointing second-round pick in 2019 who, despite having a great opportunity and ample playing time, never made any sort of sustained contribution as a rookie.
• Greg Ward Jr. certainly played well down the stretch and deserves his opportunity in 2020 but he began last season on the practice squad and has seven career NFL games under his belt.
Maybe everything will work out. Maybe Alshon will get healthy and get along with Carson Wentz, maybe DeSean will stay healthy, maybe JJAW will improve and maybe Ward is the real deal. But there’s not a lot there the Eagles can truly count on.
So it would have made sense if the Eagles went out in free agency and signed a receiver, right? Yeah, probably.
2. But as Howie Roseman explained it, the Eagles didn’t neglect the wide receiver position during the initial wave of free agency. They got priced out and went in a different direction. Roseman wasn’t willing to overpay and indicated on Thursday that prices for receivers changed quite a bit from the start of free agency to this week.
Roseman didn’t divulge names but in the last few days Breshad Perriman agreed to a one-year deal for $8 million and Robby Anderson agreed to a two-year deal worth $20 million. Both seem like pretty reasonable contracts for players who would have helped Wentz and the Eagles in 2020. And with the benefit of hindsight, the Eagles would have probably loved to get one of them at those prices.
But if the Eagles signed them a week ago, they would have been more expensive.
And then the Eagles wouldn’t have been able to go the direction they did, solidifying their defensive line with Javon Hargrave and filling another weak spot at cornerback with Darius Slay. That money went elsewhere.
When we looked at it,” Roseman said, “there's always guys sitting here now a week into free agency, maybe a little longer if you count the tampering period, you go, 'Man, if I would have known he was going to be this price, maybe I would have saved some cash, some cap room for that player.' But you can only deal with the information as a whole.
Two receivers — DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs — were traded and the Eagles could have used one of them too. But the prices were too high and there were other reasons a Hopkins deal wouldn’t have worked out also.
3. So now the Eagles are left with a cupboard that might not be as bare as I think, but it’s still pretty damn bare. And it’ll be a priority in next month’s draft to select one or more receivers — it is a very good class — to contribute immediately and in the future.
The Eagles’ willingness to punt on receivers in free agency was largely influenced by the possibility of getting high-quality receivers in the draft. Now, they just have to pick the right ones.
"I'll stress this: I remember in past years we've gone into the draft or even past the draft and we haven't had those positions filled,” Roseman said. “But our job has to be throughout the offseason and up until the trade deadline to improve the team. And I think some of the things we've done this week has given us the flexibility to focus on certain areas and also go into the draft to add the best players, not just based on position needs."
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.