The Eagles face a difficult decision this offseason when it comes to their wide receiver group, as both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper enter free agency. Each player offers promise, but each also carries considerable risk, as the team at Pro Football Focus notes in their latest “Free Agent Duel” piece.
Maclin, who missed the 2013 season with a torn ACL, has the higher pedigree as a former first-round pick, and his speed would fit nicely in Chip Kelly’s offense, which features many screens and quick out patterns. However, Maclin has always been higher on promise than productivity, as he has never surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, and graded out poorly in 2012 by PFF’s metrics. Cooper, whose roster spot was in peril due to offseason drama until Maclin’s injury, had a breakout season as the number two option for the Eagles in 2013. He was even better at catching deep passes than fellow receiver DeSean Jackson, and he built rapport with quarterback Nick Foles. Cooper has only produced at this level for one season, however, while Maclin has offered roughly the same results for a few more years.
Their price tags figure to be roughly similar, as Maclin will be forced to take a discount due to his recent injury, and Cooper may be seen as having only succeeded in a stats-friendly system. Maclin has shown a willingness to return to the Eagles, so perhaps that will swing the pendulum in his favor. Ultimately, it seems unlikely the Eagles will be able to retain both, as they have other needs, specifically on defense, that need to be met.
A few other Eagles morsels:
- Phil Sheridan chimes on the receiver situation as well, noting that he believes Cooper is the most likely to remain with the Eagles. Cooper might find that his league-wide value is not as high as thinks, and staying in Philadelphia will be the most logical decision.
- Maclin, meanwhile, could end up with the Chiefs or the Jets, where he would have familiarity with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinwheg, respectively.
- Sheridan thinks that receiver Dexter McCluster could be an interesting add for the Eagles, as he could offer some versatility on offense, as well as help on special teams.
- Finally, Sheridan speculates that the top four options on the 2014 Eagles receiver depth chart will be Jackson, Cooper, a first-round pick, and Arrelious Benn.