Wide Receiver A Top Priority For Eagles This Offseason
The Eagles saw their worst-case scenario unfold with their offense in 2019, as injuries and inconsistencies, wrecked the wide receiver position that was supposed to be a major part of the offense.
DeSean Jackson was injured in Week 2 and never recovered during the regular season. Next it was Alshon Jeffery, who battled through injuries and was unproductive in his third season in Philadelphia before finally being shut down for the year. Finally, Nelson Agholor went down with a knee injury and the entire starting wide receiving core was on the shelf.
When it was over, the Eagles had used nine different wide receivers, and not one that reached the 500-yard mark, for the entire season.
"When we look at who we started the season with and our starting three receivers, obviously they weren't out there in the playoffs," Eagles executive Vice-President and general manager Howie Roseman said after the season.
"So we have to look at that. We have to look at every position and we have to look to improve at every position and we have to get with Coach and his staff and make sure that we are finding the players and the position requirements that they are looking for, as well."
Jackson had nine catches for 159 yards in one full game, and three overall, before being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 5. He eventually underwent core muscle surgery to address a sports hernia injury.
The Eagles hope Jackson can return for training camp in July, though they've learned they can't count on him the now 33-year-old Jackson, their lone deep threat.
Jeffery caught just 43 passes for 490 yards in 2019 and was slowed by injuries for most of the season. He missed six games this season, and was eventually shut down on injured reserve after suffering a Lisfranc injury.
"In terms of Alshon, we had a conversation with Alshon before the season, and he took a pay cut in exchange for guaranteeing," Roseman stated. "For us, we were trying to create as much flexibility going forward with our roster to create cap space to improve the football team. I think we forget some of the contributions to our team that Alshon has had: during our Super Bowl year, the injury he played with not missing a game and the contributions in that Super Bowl game, and last year  he had 11 catches during the playoffs, and even this year in his last game he had nine catches for over 130 yards in the Miami game."
"Alshon is a talented player and he loves being an Eagle and he loves this city. I think about the moment last year, after the New Orleans game, when he went into that school and put himself out there."
As for Agholor, the 2015 first-round pick had just 39 catches and 363 yards over 11 career games before missing games with a knee injury.
"We felt with adding DeSean and [having] Nelly, and [adding] Miles [RB Miles Sanders] who is an explosive player, and our tight ends are an explosive group, when we looked at it we felt like we had some speed on the field," Roseman explained.
"Now obviously that didn't work out in the exact way we were hoping for. So for us, it's an important thing to do. Obviously Carson has the ability to make all of the throws, and we don't want to take that out of our arsenal, so without kind of going through the answers to the test, it's something that has always been important to us in building the team."
The Eagles fired their offensive coordinator Mike Groh, along with wide receivers coach Carson Walch after Roseman addressed the wide receiver position in a season-ending press conference on Jan. 8. The reasoning behind their dismissal wasn't clear, as the Eagles haven't addressed those decisions yet.
Free agency presents limited options for the Eagles to fill a void at a priority position, with A.J. Green among the top wide receivers on the open market. Green's market value is in the range of two years and $18.2 million, according to Spotrac, which could be a reasonable price for the Eagles if they want to go in that direction. Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Robbie Anderson and Emmanuel Sanders are some of the other top wide outs on the free agent market. One other veteran name to keep an eye on is Anderson, a guy they have been interested in the past two seasons at the trade deadline, per Spotrac, his market value brings him in at around 4 yrs, $48 million.
If the Eagles truly believe in Jeffery and Jackson returning to form in 2020, they may be better off just replacing Agholor in-house with a guy like Greg Ward or adding a guy like Cobb who could fit that mold as a slot guy.
Of course Roseman could find a new top target at the position in the draft, something he indicated could be a possibility with the potential of 10 draft picks in the upcoming draft.
"Going forward we need to infuse youth in this team," Roseman admitted. "We have 10 draft picks. We think we're going to have 10 draft picks in this draft and we're excited about that. When we look at what the young players did for our team down the stretch, it's a great tribute to them; it's a great tribute to our coaching staff and it’s a great tribute to our developmental program that we take a lot of pride in."
The 2020 draft is loaded and deep at the wide receiver position, the Eagles could find multiple options that intrigue them with their pick at No. 21 overall.
With potentially 10 draft picks, they could move up and target the wide out they like best in a very deep and talented class that includes; Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, LSU's Justin Jefferson, Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, Clemson's Tee Higgins among others.
Any of those five guys would look good in an Eagles uniform in 2020.