According to a report from Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Eagles have prioritized their in-house options at wide receiver this offseason. Both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are scheduled to be free agents when the new league year starts, but it's being reported that Maclin is the priority. From McLane's report:
The Eagles have prioritized retaining Jeremy Maclin before Riley Cooper as the wide receivers near free agency, according to NFL sources. If all goes to plan, the Eagles will sign Maclin to a one-year contract and attempt to acquire another starting-caliber receiver via free agency. Cooper remains on the radar, and the Eagles could circle back if they don't land another target, but securing Maclin will take precedence.
There are two key items of interest here. First is the mention of a what a Maclin contract would look like. Signing Maclin to a one year deal would make sense for both Maclin and the Eagles. A one year deal gives the 25-year old a chance to flourish in Chip Kelly's offense and chase a larger contract after the season is over. For the Eagles, it prevents them from having to make a longer commitment to a player coming off an ACL injury.
The second item of note is the fact the Eagles want to sign another starting-caliber receiver along with Maclin. There are a number of wide receiver options in free agency. But who could the Eagles be targeting? If the Eagles bring Maclin back, both him and DeSean Jackson would be starters. A place where the Eagles could seemingly look to upgrade, then, is the slot receiver position. For all that Jason Avant is a leader, his on-field performance just didn't cut it last season. McLane says it's likely Avant, who is due a roster bonus this offseason, will be waived.
So what does it all mean? Here's my takeaway from this report:
1) It seems like Jeremy Maclin will return to the Eagles on a short-term deal. He's the priority.
2) Riley Cooper is drawing interest from other teams and probably won't be back. He's a backup plan for the Eagles.
3) The Eagles want another starting receiver aside from Maclin and Jackson. Maybe a bigger guy? Maybe a slot guy?
4) Jason Avant is likely to be cut.
Howie Roseman has called the wide receiver "complicated" this offseason and he's right. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of options to consider. And I have even mentioned the 2014 NFL draft class, which is supposedly very talented at the receiver position. It will be very interesting to see how things shake out. NFL free agency officially starts on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 4 PM EST.