Randle Sees An Opportunity With Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — He's not exactly Larry Fitzgerald but when you take a look at Rueben Randle's resume compared to the returning core of the Eagles' wide-receiver group, the former LSU standout becomes the wily old veteran.
That's because Randle spent the first four years of his NFL career up the Jersey Turnpike, catching passes from Eli Manning with the New York Giants.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Randle, originally a second-round pick in 2012, caught 57 balls for 797 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns last season with New York, following his breakthrough campaign the year prior when he hauled in 71 receptions for 938 yards.
Despite those numbers there wasn't a big market on the free-agent market and he settled on a one-year, make-good deal with the Eagles that includes a base salary of just over $1 million but could be worth up to $3 million with escalators. Of that, $500,000 is guaranteed.
The opportunity in Philadelphia may have been bigger than the pay stub for Randle, however.
"That's one of the key reasons (I'm here)," the lengthy wideout told 973espn.com on Tuesday before the Eagles first voluntary offseason practice session under Doug Pederson, "as was getting a fresh start. With coach Pederson here and him wanting me to come here was a big deal as well, so coming to a place you're really wanted is an easy decision."
As a receiver Randle is a lot like Jordan Matthews in that he has nice size but average speed by NFL standards and inconsistent hands. He’s also not known for running the sharpest routes but at just 24, he has plenty of room to grow and immediately steps in as one of Philadelphia’s most accomplished receivers.
"That's kind of the position I'm in," Randle said. "If not the older guy, one of the older guys in the receiving room so I just want to spread my knowledge around to try to make the group better."
So where does Randle fit in?
Although the Eagles are hoping Nelson Agholor takes a huge leap forward in his second season, the signing of Randle gives the team a cushion in that the veteran could step in as a starter opposite Matthews if Agholor continues to struggle. The team’s other free-agent addition at the position, Chris Givens, really doesn’t have that kind of upside.
Meanwhile, in 11 personnel, Randle could handle things outside the numbers, along with either Agholor or Josh Huff, while Matthews holds down his familiar slot position.
"I don't mind moving around," Randle said when asked about his potential role. "I think I can do both (play outside the numbers and in the slot). Mainly I've been outside my whole career so that's where I'm most comfortable but wherever they need be is where I'll play."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen