Eagles Newest Weapon Sends Strong Message: ‘That’s How I Feel’

Falcons WR Olamide Zaccheaus

Getty Falcons WR Olamide Zaccheaus is one of several realistic free agent targets at the Ravens top positions of need.

The opportunity for a starting spot is there if Olamide Zaccheaus wants it. The Philadelphia Eagles might be telling everyone they are sold on Quez Watkins in the slot, but their actions speak louder than words. There’s a reason they inked Zaccheaus to a one-year deal in free agency.

The 5-foot-8, 193-pounder was an explosive and reliable weapon last season for the Atlanta Falcons, not to mention a quarterback’s best friend. Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder owned an impressive 109.5 passer rating when throwing his way. Further, 60.9% of his 737 offensive snaps came in the slot. Zaccheaus was brought to Philly to compete for a meaningful role, something Watkins knows all too well.

“Part of my game is just being reliable and doing whatever the team needs me to do,” Zaccheaus told reporters at his introductory press conference on May 3. “Blocking, in the slot, catching passes. So that’s how I feel like I fit in the offense. Whatever the team needs me to do I’ll do. I’m very confident in what I do, what I bring to the table. We’ll see how that looks.”

Zaccheaus is the rare player who has seen his production go up every single year. He set career highs in receptions (40) and receiving yards (533) in 2022, seeming to shine brightest when Mariota was under center. The 25-year-old was ranked No. 10 in the NFL in yards-per-catch (14.96) when Philly’s new backup was the starter. He’ll be looking to establish a similar connection with Jalen Hurts this summer.

“His demeanor in the building, it’s like stoic, I guess that’s the word to use,” Zaccheaus said of Hurts. “We’ll build that chemistry but seeing him in the building he’s had the success he’s had for a reason, you can see it.”

Hometown Hero Pushed Agent to Get Deal Done

Sometimes players simply push their agents to get the best deal done, perhaps the most lucrative one. Zaccheaus, a South Jersey native, didn’t reveal if he had other offers on the table but the idea of returning to his hometown was a priority. Whatever the cost.

“You see an opportunity like this, I just told my agent, let’s be aggressive and jump on this and that’s what they did,” Zaccheus said. “That was that. That’s what that was.”

Then, following the Eagles’ draft-day trade for D’Andre Swift, things came full circle. He was excited beyond belief to be reunited with his old high school teammate from St. Joseph’s Prep. Zaccheaus and Swift won two state championships together in 2013 and 2014.

“Everything’s happening for a reason, you know, he’s exactly where he should be right now. And I feel the same way,” Zaccheaus said. “It’s just a beautiful opportunity, that I talked to him about, just embrace it.”

Watkins Doesn’t Seem Happy About Signing

Reading too much into cryptic Twitter messages can be problematic. No one wants to stir up unnecessary controversy. However, it was hard to see Watkins’ message on April 20 — one day after the Eagles agreed to terms with Zaccheaus — and not think he was upset. He hasn’t said anything publicly since.

Meanwhile, the Eagles continue to say all the right things and pound the drum for Watkins. In fact, head coach Nick Sirianni went on record saying that Watkins remains locked in as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart.

“We’ve just added depth to the group. We have a lot of confidence in Quez, and I know he’s going to come back,” Sirianni told reporters. “I know he’s hungry. He’s determined. He feels like he didn’t have his best season. But Quez is our No. 3 receiver.”

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