Ten wide receivers the Eagles should pursue this offseason
The flavor of the year is to discuss which hot-ticket QB the Eagles should pick up in the offseason – whether it’s Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Derek Carr.
Hell, people are even talking about whether the Eagles should build their future around Jimmy Garropolo. (Absolutely not.)
Discussions of this sort are obviously low-hanging fruit for the casual football observer. The conventional wisdom goes, ‘If you have a top-flight QB, everything else will fall into place.’ That ‘wisdom,’ of course, requires you to make believe that Seahawks 7-10 season did not just happen with the aforementioned Russell Wilson at QB. That ‘wisdom’ also requires you to make-believe that Jimmy Garropolo must be a top-flight QB since he’s been in two out of the last three NFC Championships.
As is often the case, the truth lies between the extremes of both of these positions. Yes, the quarterback position is the most critical position in football. No, simply having a great QB does not ensure your team’s success. Yes, you can succeed with a middling quarterback, but you also have to put All-Pro players around him to compensate — as was the case with the 49ers. If you acquire a “top-flight” QB, the rest of your roster construction suffers because of this thing called the salary cap.
The more productive use of our time right now would be to explore the number of top-flight playmakers that will be available for a team with around $30M in cap space. Below you will find the top 10 wide receivers the Eagles should pursue this offseason.
1. Davante Adams (29) – $25.8M average salary / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 669 receptions | 66 TD | 12.1 average | 8 seasons
Let’s be honest: the best receiver in pro football, Davante Adams, isn’t coming to Philly. However, nothing is for certain until we see the ESPN ticker tell us that Davante has signed wherever Aaron Rodgers is the QB next season. We still have time to dream.
2. Calvin Ridley (28) $11.1M average / fair market value [TRADE]
Career stats: 248 receptions | 28 TD | 13.5 average yards per reception | 4 seasons
Not to be hyperbolic, but a Calvin Ridley trade to Philly could ignite Jalen Hurts, similar to bringing Jamarr Chase to Cincinnatti ignited Joe Burrow. While Hurts isn’t the natural pocket passer that Burrow is, he doesn’t need to be for the Eagles’ offense to be dynamic.
The Eagles were 4th in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage. Imagine what Hurts could do with TWO familiar route-runners to rely on while Dallas Goedert rounds into All-Pro form.
Ridley is likely to be on the move this offseason, per multiple reports.
“General manager Howie Roseman is as eager to trade as anyone, especially when the target is a potential long-term weapon. Better yet, Philly is on the verge of contending, and Ridley played with both QB Jalen Hurts and fellow WR DeVonta Smith at Alabama. The Eagles are also loaded with draft capital.” — CBS Sports
3. Allen Robinson (29) $16.3M average / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 495 receptions | 40 TD | 12.9 average | 8 seasons
I would submit that we may not have seen the best of Allen Robinson — much like Alshon Jeffrey before he got to Philadelphia. At 6’3” / 210 lbs, Robinson would give Hurts another big, spectacular catching target. Read below for another similar potential WR pickup to those acquired during the 2017 offseason.
4. Chris Godwin (26) – $18.1M average / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 342 receptions | 71 TD | 13.5 average | 5 seasons
Yes, Godwin is coming off of a torn ACL – which is why he’s not up at number 2 and in the Davante Adams ‘not gonna happen’ category. Don’t forget that even with having Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski, Godwin had 98 catches in 14 games.
If Howie can make this happen, the chance of having to wait until Week 2 or 3 could be well worth it.
5. Mike Williams (28) – $16.7M average / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 227 receptions | 26 TD | 16.1 average | 5 seasons
Mike Williams, in all likelihood, isn’t coming to Philly. However, if he was considering, the Eagles absolutely have to jump at this opportunity. At 6’4’ / 220 lbs, Williams is a huge target with top-flight talent, but he’s been hurt with middling QB play, inconsistency, and injuries.
The Chargers have found a franchise QB to throw him the ball keeps him in Los Angeles, but Williams would undoubtedly be a fan favorite in South Philly if he ever made it here.
6. Michael Gallup (26) – $11.8M average / fair market value[FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 193 receptions | 15 TD | 15.0 average | 4 seasons
This would be so sweet. Take Gallup from Dallas, pair him with DeVonta, Super Bowl. Well, let’s not get carried away – yet. Gallup is a player with WR2 talent, but like Chris Godwin, he will be coming off of a torn ACL. Luckily, sports medicine has evolved and there are numerous examples of players who’ve returned from torn ACLs and have played well: Tom Brady, JJ Watt, Rob Gronkowski, and Saquon Barkley.
7. DJ Chark (25) – $11.9M average / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 147 receptions | 15 TD | 13.9 average | 4 seasons
Chark is a lower-cost version of Allen Robinson – at only 24 years old. Like Robinson, Chark’s nascent years were plagued by dealing with the ineptitude of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization. If the Eagles can get Chark at $12M per year, they should do it.
8. Michael Thomas (28) – 3 years, $49M left on Saints’ deal [TRADE]
Career stats: 510 receptions | 72 TD | 11.7 average | 5 seasons
An ankle injury kept the Saints’ Pro Bowler from participating during the 2021 season. Thomas could net the franchise draft compensation with the Saints seemingly in an epically devolving rebuilding mode.
9. T.Y. Hilton (32) – $6.2M average / fair market value [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 631 receptions | 87 TD | 15.4 average | 10 seasons
I see a potential T.Y. to Philly signing much as I saw Torrey Smith coming to Philly. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. He’s a guy who can make a WOW play or two every couple of weeks, but defenses aren’t scratching their heads and having nightmares over them either.
He’d be a good face to bring in for stability at the 4th WR position instead of endlessly hoping for JJAW to remember how to put his hands together around the football.
10. Isaiah McKenzie (27) signed a 1 year, $1M contract last year – [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 99 receptions | 7 TD | 9.3 average | 6 seasons
McKenzie is a sneaky-good playmaker for the Bills and someone in the mold of Deebo Samuel – which is how the Eagles endlessly tried to fit Jalen Reagor into the offense. For the compensation he’s likely to see, McKenzie could be a game-changer.
JuJu Smith Schuster (25) – signed a 1 year, $8M contract last year [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 323 receptions | 26 TD | 11.9 average | 5 seasons
Leave the dancing on the other side of Pennsylvania or the deal’s off.
Equanimeous St. Brown (26) – signed a 1 year, $850,000 contract last year [FREE AGENT]
Career stats: 37 receptions | 1 TD | 14.7 average | 3 seasons
Underappreciated WR project for the 5/6 spot – who is much more deserving than JJAW.
Nice effort from Equanimeous St. Brown, led to an Aaron Jones score.pic.twitter.com/fqxIXEMmoN— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 22, 2020
Mandatory Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo | Getty Images