Thoughts on Eagles issues at wide receiver

Eliot Shorr-Parks
March 25, 2020 - 9:25 am

Free agency is now over a week old, and so far, the team has done nothing to address their need at wide receiver. 

They passed on making any serious run at Amari Cooper. They passed on trading for DeAndre Hopkins or Stefon Diggs. They passed on Robby Anderson. They even passed on Breshad Perriman. 

The lack of action has left many wondering — what exactly is the plan?

Some thoughts on the Eagles’ current situation at wide receiver:

Passing on Anderson: The Eagles’ decision to pass on Cooper is somewhat understanding considering the massive contract he got. Passing on on Anderson is a head scratcher. 

Anderson’s deal with the Carolina Panthers — two-years, $20 million with $12 million in 2020 — is extremely reasonable for a player of his caliber. Anderson, 6-foot-3 with elite-level speed, has at least 50-catches in each of the last three seasons. He has averaged at least 15.0 yards-per-catch in each of the last two, and was at 14.9 yards-per-catch in 2017. To put that in perspective, no receiver currently on the Eagles roster has caught 50 passes in either of the last two seasons. Only one — DeSean Jackson — has ever done it. 

Anderson would have given the Eagles a sure-thing at receiver for 2020, something they currently don’t have anything close to. He also would have given them a deep threat, arguably their biggest need heading into the offseason. Passing on Anderson is a move that could come back to hurt the Eagles. 

Passing on Perriman: Perriman is far from a sure-thing for the 2020 season. Now with the New York Jets, Perriman will be with his fourth team in four years. He has really only had one good season in the NFL, and it came in a loaded Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. There is a good chance Perriman would have been a disappointment with the Eagles considering the expectations that would have came with the signing and how desperate their need at receiver is. 

You can make the argument that Perriman’s deal was so small — only a one-year deal worth $6 million — that the Eagles should have brought him in. Still, it is hard to fault the team for passing on Perriman. 

The NFL Draft: The bulk of free agency is now over and the Eagles are worse at receiver than when it started. The team not signing even a mid-level free agent at receiver is surprising and puts plenty of pressure on the 2020 NFL Draft. 

The good news is that the draft is considered loaded at receiver. The bad news is that there are plenty of teams ahead of the Eagles that have a need at receiver as well.

The Giants, Jaguars (two picks), Jets, Raiders (two picks), 49ers, Broncos and Dolphins (two picks) all have a big enough need at receiver that they very well could take one in the first round. Some might trade up, some might trade back, but add them up and 11 of the 20 picks ahead of the Eagles could be used on a receiver. The chances of one of the top three receivers — CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs — falling to the Eagles are extremely slim. Trading up for one might be very expensive. 

There could still be some solid options at No. 21, like Justin Jefferson, Denzil Mims or KJ Hamler. But if a run on receivers early happens, the Eagles could find themselves at No. 21 deciding between a better prospect at a position they don’t need help at or reaching for a need at receiver. 

Passing on so many options prior to the draft looks like it is going to put the team in a tough spot on draft night. 

Rookie Receiver: Let’s say the Eagles do land a receiver in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s even say they somehow, someway land one of the top three prospects in Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs, an ideal outcome. 

Even then, you have to wonder how much the Eagles will be able to count on a rookie receiver in 2020, and how much is even fair to expect. 

Adjusting to the NFL is tough, but it could be especially tough this offseason. The COVID-19 outbreak could end up taking away all of the offseason workouts, and speculation is growing it could impact training camp as well. That potential reality is going to make it tough for a rookie to come in and contribute, even if they are an elite-level prospect. 

Asking any rookie to come in and be an instant contributor is a big ask. Asking one to do it this season is looking like it is going to be an especially big ask. 

Wentz, Pederson and the offensive line: The team’s need at receiver is obvious. Their need for more speed on offense is clear as well. 

The most important components of a passing game, however, are the play caller, quarterback and offensive line. The Eagles can feel pretty confident in all three of those with Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz and their current group of offensive linemen. Wentz played his best football of the season last year in the final four games, when he lined up with Greg Ward, Rob Davis, Deontay Burnett and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside next to him. He was able to do so because Pederson called great games, the offensive line gave him time in the pocket and he had three weapons that aren’t receivers but will be back next year in Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders. 

Outside of the transition to Andre Dillard, none of that should change in 2020. 

Yes, an upgrade at receiver is absolutely needed. The Eagles need to get Wentz more help on the outside. 

The main components needed for the Eagles to have a great offense in 2020, however, are already in place — an important fact for fans to remember as the offseason goes along. 

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