Pro Football Focus is running an offseason series called "Free Agent Duel", where they look at a team's pending free agents and debate the case of keeping one over the other. The Eagles fall into this category this offseason because they have a big decision to make on pending free agent wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Will the Eagles bring back both, one, or neither? In this case, PFF assumes the Eagles will only keep one. So which one should it be? Here's what PFF had to say about the Maclin/Cooper debate. I've summed up their arguments below.
• Perfect fit for Chip Kelly's offense
• Wide receivers screens and quick outs
• Eagles run a lot of 11 personnel (3 WR, 70.5% of offensive plays)
• Impressive physical attributes
• Beating defenses deep (14th among WRs in 2010 with 340 yards on passes traveling 20 yards or more in the air)
• "Potential" runs dry
• Never passed the 1,000 yard barrier
• Dropped a lot of passes in 2012
• Unexpectional YAC rates (2012: 4.2 YAC per reception, 6.2 YAC per screen reception)
• Leap in production is wishful thinking
• Excelled on deep passes (17.8 yards per reception was 8th highest in the NFL)
• Uses size and physicality well
• Reliable connection with Nick Foles
• Perceived reasonable price tag
• Only targeted 16 times on deep passes
• 7.84% drop rate
• Not a top-tier receiver
PFF does a good job of hitting on the key points. One (admittedly minor) complaint is the remark about how Maclin has never had a 1,000 yard season. I understand the sentiment of their argument, but Maclin had 964 receiving yards in 2010 as well as 36 rushing that year. That's a total of 1000 yards from scrimmage. It's also worth noting Maclin only played one series in the regular season finale that year because the Eagles rested their starters.
There's always suspense in waiting, but I don't think there's a lot of reason to worry about how this situation plays out. The Eagles are in a favorable position. Both Maclin and Cooper have stated they want to return to the team, though it's obvious the money will still need to be right. Depending on what happens in free agency, the Eagles will have another chance to add talent at wideout in a loaded 2014 NFL draft class if need be. And no matter who the Eagles start next year, Chip Kelly will still be the head coach. Kelly showed he can get the most out of his offensive players.
That said, everyone is still likely to have their favorite when it comes to Maclin and Cooper. So what say you?