On the Eagles: The Riley Cooper Fallout
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — That sure didn't take long.
In what was a long-awaited move by the team's fan base, the Philadelphia Eagles finally cut ties with veteran receiver Riley Cooper on the first day NFL teams could release players who finished the 2015 season on an active roster.
Valued by previous coach Chip Kelly for his blocking ability, Cooper's lack of a production catching the football, along with his racially-charged comments at a Kenny Chesney concert back in 2013 made him a bit of a lightning rod for the organization.
In his six-year career with the Eagles after being drafted by the Andy Reid-regime in the fifth round out of Florida back in 2010, Cooper snared 169 passes for 2,418 yards and produced 18 touchdowns.
His best season was Kelly's first in Philadelphia after all the controversy from the Chesney incident when he hauled in 47 catches for 835 yards and eight TDs, a performance that earned him a new five-year, $25 million extension with $8 million of that guaranteed.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss Riley Cooper and more)
He was largely a nonentity in the passing game by the '15 season, hauling in 21 catches for 327 yards and two touchdowns with three drops in 572 offensive plays (49 percent). Cooper was also held catchless in seven of the 16 games he played.
Of the 121 receivers who played enough to be rated by ProFootballFocus.com last season, Cooper was ranked near the bottom of the list at No. 86 just one year after finishing dead last (119 of 119). As an aside the Eagles also had the worst-rated receiver in football last season, rookie Nelson Agholor.
The 28-year-old veteran was set to have a cap hit of $5.3 million for the '16 campaign and Philadelphia saved $2.9 million by releasing him, meaning that he will still count as $2.4 million in dead money against the cap in 2016.
With Cooper out of the picture, the Eagles now have five receivers under contract in Jordan Matthews, Agholor, Josh Huff, Jonathan Krause, and Freddie Martino. Special teams stalwart Seyi Ajirotutu is set to become a free agent in March.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen