The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t made wide receiver a top priority in free agency. It’s a risky move as they focus on the upcoming draft to add reinforcements.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman has gone on record saying he wants to add “youth” and “speed” to the roster. Even as younger free agents came flying off the board — guys like Robby Anderson, Breshad Perriman, Geronimo Allison, Demarcus Robinson — the Eagles stood pat and focused on improving their defense.
Roseman admitted that the team wasn’t done addressing the position during a recent conference call and took a subtle shot at those complaining about their inactivity in free agency. His comments sure seemed to confirm that the position would be a focus in April’s NFL draft.
“We had conversations with all these guys that you’ve seen [signed]. At the same time, I think we do view the receiver position maybe different than it’s publicly viewed,” Roseman told reporters. “I understand where we were toward the end of the year and who was out there, and we’ve got to increase the talent level, but we’re also excited to get some of those guys back, who were not healthy. And we’re also excited for young guys to take another step.”
Potential WR Targets for Eagles in Free Agency
Don’t laugh. Gordon will turn 29 next week (April 13) and showed signs of fresh legs last year in limited snaps in Seattle. In yet another suspension-shortened season, the sure-handed receiver still hauled in 27 balls for 426 yards in 11 games while splitting time between New England and Seattle.
He proved to be a difference-maker in his first game for the Seahawks when he grabbed two crucial first-down catches. Gordon’s biggest issue throughout his career has been in testing positive for marijuana use. Well, the NFL will no longer suspend players who test positive for marijuana use under the new collective bargaining agreement. Gordon is free and clear … something to think about.
There was a time when the former lacrosse player turned unlikely football hero was a rising star in the league. Hogan was one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets at one point in New England, especially after his 180-yard game in 2017 set a postseason record for the most receiving yards in a postseason game by an undrafted player.
Hogan played for Carolina last season but was limited to just seven games due to a left knee injury. He has 202 career receptions for 2,677 yards in eight seasons, plus he led the entire NFL in yards-per-catch (17.9) in 2016. He also boasts local ties to Philadelphia since he hails from New Jersey and attended Penn State.
The five-time Pro-Bowl selection is miraculously sitting out in free agency — untouched and seemingly untalked about. Why? The most obvious reason would be his age since he’ll turn 33 in December but the former Broncos star could still be a productive contributor for a contending team.
Better yet, Thomas will likely be available for a cheap “prove-it” contract. He made $1.4 million in base salary and $2.7 million in yearly cash in 2019, per Spotrac. The Jets traded for Thomas last year and shut him down toward the end of the season as he fell victim to a nagging hamstring and knee injury. He still caught 36 balls for 433 yards.
Austin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. Think about it. Speed like that doesn’t grow on trees. Sure, Austin largely flamed out in Dallas — except for that jock-strap losing juke he put on Orlando Scandrick against the Eagles — but he’s still only 29 years old.
The biggest knocks have been in regard to his deficiencies in creating separation and a lack of physicality due to his small stature (5-foot-8, 179 pounds). Austin has been unable to carve out a role during stints with the Rams and Cowboys, other than serving as a gadget-play specialist. Maybe a change of scenery will do Austin well. He has the burst and intangibles to be a poor man’s Randall Cobb, plus he could be a major threat on punt and kickoff returns.
Injuries have derailed a once-promising career for Gabriel. He suffered back-to-back concussions in 2015 and 2016, then went down with another one last year in Chicago. He has also dealt with severe pedal foot and leg calf sprains over six NFL seasons for three different franchises. And broke many ankles in the process.
Gabriel isn’t exactly a guy who is going to come in and threaten to be a No. 1 option but he’s a speed threat with legitimate credentials. Remember, he caught six passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of a game last year for the Bears. He finished the 2019 season with 29 receptions for 353 yards and four touchdowns.
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