The Eagles and prospective free agent Riley Cooper are close to reaching an agreement on a new contract, reports Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to McLane, the team and the wide receiver could officially strike a deal on a multiyear contract within the next few days.
Cooper, 26, had a breakout season in 2013, the final year of his rookie contract. After being at the center of a preseason controversy when he used a racial slur, Cooper looked very good on the field, setting career-highs in receptions (47), receiving yards (835), and receiving touchdowns (8). A report last week suggested the former fifth-round pick was expected to have several interested suitors if he reached free agency, perhaps receiving multiyear offers in the $5MM per year range. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of figures Cooper and the Eagles agree upon, if he’s content not to test the open market.
In addition to Cooper, Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin is also eligible for unrestricted free agency in March, creating what GM Howie Roseman called a “complicated” situation. There have been conflicting reports on which player the team has prioritized this offseason, but according to McLane, a new deal for Cooper doesn’t necessarily mean the club will let Maclin walk. McLane still expects Philadelphia to sign Maclin to a one-year, make-good pact. The Eagles freed up a little cap room earlier today when they extended Jason Peters‘ contract, so perhaps the club will take advantage of that extra flexibility to retain both its key free agent receivers.
This year’s deep class of free agent receivers had the potential to create a buyer’s market, particularly with several more attractive alternatives available in May’s draft. However, at least a couple of the top-tier options seem likely to come off the board before March 11. Anquan Boldin and the 49ers are also reportedly nearing an agreement that will keep Boldin off the market.