With DeSean and Alshon gone, what's left of Eagles' WR corps? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
DeSean Jackson, the 3rd-leading receiver in franchise history, is gone.
Alshon Jeffery, the one-time Super Bowl hero, is gone.
Not a lot, other than a bunch of young guys, a lot of question marks and some potential.
With Jackson officially released and Jeffery on his way out, the Eagles have nine wide receivers left on the roster.
Only one has 700 career receiving yards, and he’s caught just 35 passes over the last three years.
The cupboard is bare.
Of those nine receivers, five have fewer than 300 career yards. Only two have 40 career receptions. Only one has ever had 600 yards in a season, and he only did it once in seven years in the league.
The Eagles haven’t had a wide out with 600 yards since 2018. They haven’t had a wide out have 85 yards in consecutive games since Jordan Matthews in 2015 or in three straight games since Terrell Owens in 2004. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith and Jeffery were huge during the Super Bowl run, but when it comes to consistent production over an extended period, it’s really been missing since 2014, when Maclin had over 1,300 yards and made the Pro Bowl, Matthews had just under 900 yards and Riley Cooper had nearly 600 yards playing with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez.
That was 2014. We’re now headed toward 2021. That’s ancient history.
The only wide receiver the Eagles have under contract who’s ever had more than 539 yards in a season is Marquise Goodwin, who had 962 yards in his one big season with the 49ers in 2017. In his six other seasons, he’s averaged 227 yards. He opted out last year after catching 23 and 12 passes 2018 and 2019. And there’s no guarantee he’ll be here next year. He’s due a $4.2 million in 2021 and the Eagles won’t even consider keeping him unless he agrees to drastically lower that figure.
Out of all the guys on the roster, the only absolute lock to even be on the team next year is 1st-round pick Jalen Reagor, who had a difficult, injury-plagued rookie season, managing just 31 catches for 396 yards in the 11 games he did play.
Travis Fulgham was the best receiver in the NFL for a five-game stretch early last season then did virtually nothing the rest of the year. Was that five-game stretch a mirage? Will he ever be more than a fringe player in the NFL? There’s no way to know, but just that one five-game, 435-yard stretch gives him the 3rd-most career yards among current Eagles wideouts.
Greg Ward has more yards than any Eagles’ receiver over the last two years with 673. That’s right. He’s averaged 337 yards over the last two years and is the Eagles’ leading WR over that period.
Beyond Goodwin, Reagor, Fulgham and Ward?
That leaves us with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Deontay Burnett, John Hightower, Quez Watkins and Khalil Tate.
Combined: 46 career catches for 737 yards.
Of that group, JJAW caught just four balls last year, Burnett spent most of the year on the practice squad and Hightower fell out of favor after a couple big catches early and only Watkins finished strong, with 6-for-103 and a TD playing with Jalen Hurts the last three games of the season. Tate is a converted college QB who signed a futures contract.
Nick Sirianni is a former wide receivers coach, so this position is his wheelhouse, and Aaron Moorehead is back for his second year as WRs coach, so he has a pretty good idea of what each of these guys can do (and can’t do).
The Eagles had to move on from Jackson, who’s been hurt for most of the two years since he came back to Philly, and they had to move on from Jeffery, whose production has declined steadily since he got here. Cutting ties with the two veterans wasn’t just necessary from a football standpoint, they saved the Eagles over $15 million in cap space.
But those moves also left the roster an incredibly young, inexperienced bunch of question marks at a key position.
The Eagles don’t have the cap space to add any big-time free agents, and the veteran secondary free agents they’ve signed over the years – guys like Kamar Aikan to Rueben Randle to Mike Wallace to Markus Wheaton – haven’t exactly lit it up.
There’s always the draft, but considering Howie Roseman’s record drafting wideouts, that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence either.
We’ve focused so much on who the quarterback’s going to be. Just as big a question is who’s he going to be throwing to?
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