Eagles Receivers Big Indicator of Franchise’s Self-Image
There’s been a decent amount of buzz recently about the Eagles wide receivers since the (still kind of frustrating) loss to the Saints.
First, DeSean Jackson claimed that he deserves a new contract after being into the second year of a five year deal. Then he went back on those comments after he claims that the media blew things out of proportion. Here’s the quote by the way:
“Hopefully, we can work something out that’s fair for the both of us. I definitely feel it’s deserving […] I’ve proven [it] after this past year with no distractions and really put it all in for my team and had a lot of success, so we’ll see how it goes.”
That sounds like a guy who wants a new deal to me. Especially now that DeSean’s Public Lounge (aka his house) was robbed for nearly half a million dollars.
Then there’s Riley Cooper. The Florida product obliterated his previous career numbers by a wide margin. Conveniently, he was in a contract year and the four year veteran will hit the market at just the right time for a pay day.
Then there’s Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles 2009 first round selection out of Missouri who missed the entire year due to a torn ACL. He’s also just finished the last year of his contract and is slated to be a free agent. However, Maclin, who will be 26 next year, is a bit on the opposite end of the spectrum from DeSean. He understands that contract negotiations will be difficult given his injury.
“I understand it could be a possibility that [the ACL tear] may scare some teams off, or a team may want to do a one-year deal as opposed to a long-term contract. That’s the game, that’s the business.” -Jeremy Maclin
Receivers wanting good money is nothing new in the NFL—no need to pinch me. But what makes all of this fascinating is, of course, Chip Kelly and the front office. I think that the contract situations of these players will be a major indicator of how much the franchise believes in the offensive system.
Obviously this season was unlike anything we’ve seen before in Philadelphia and the firepower of the offense was incredible. They blew away the league in big plays with 99 plays of 20+ yards and 23 plays of 40+ yards. They also broke seemingly every major franchise record possible…again all in the first season.
So what I think will happen this offseason is that through the way they treat their receivers we’ll understand how much individual talent is deemed necessary to succeed. In other words, how much of the success resulted from the players and how much resulted from the system?
I’m personally in the camp that Chip is actually doing his job of putting players in a situation to succeed and thus I’m undervaluing players that would be paid a ton in other markets.
As a result I think DeSean’s probably sitting out in the cold as I can’t imagine a restructured deal—this year or ever. He’s a very good player in his own right, but he doesn’t consistently dominate games. I think his five year $51 million contract is generally on point for now until he has another good year or two.
Cooper however is a different case. He will be seen as a free agent target by a number of teams. He’s got the size at 6’3″ 222 pounds that you want on the outside and he’s quick enough to get downfield. In fact, out of all players with at least 35 receptions, Cooper was second in the league with an average of 17.8 yards per catch behind only Josh Gordon and tied with Calvin Johnson. He’s going to get a lot of offers.
However, are the Eagles going to be willing to pay him like a steady second option? I think they shouldn’t, but that’s a different story.
Maclin will receiver plenty of feelers on the market as well. He’s a talented receiver that only turns 26 this offseason so if his rehab goes as planned than he has plenty of football ahead of him. I won’t go ahead and say that he’ll be offered #1 receiver money, but I could see a number of teams that are willing to take a risk on a respectable one year deal in order to gain a franchise piece.
As a result I think the evaluation of receiving talent shows a quality insight into the team. Is this team like the Broncos, who come up with quality receiver after quality receiver? Or are we the Patriots and take whatever misfit happens to show up to practice first? Soon we’ll know.