The 2015 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2014 roster. While the team was able to achieve 10-6 record, they fell short of making the playoff, and there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 10, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the wide receiver position.
Numbers: 1043 snaps, 85 rec, 1318 yards, 15.5 Y/R, 10 TD, 72 Long, 1 drop, 0 fumbles
Review: Jeremy Maclin had his fair share of doubters heading into the 2014 season. He had never reached the (arbitrary) 1,000 yard mark and he was coming off an ACL injury that forced him to miss all of 2013. Maclin bet on himself in free agency by only taking a one-year contract and it really paid off. Maclin had a huge year despite lackluster quarterback play. He set career highs in several categories and proved to be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver.
Numbers: 980 snaps, 55 rec, 573 yards, 10.4 Y/R, 3 TD, 50 Long, 3 drops, 1 fumble
Review: Let's just lead off with this: according to Pro Football Focus, Riley Cooper was the worst wide receiver in the NFL in 2014. He ranked 110th out of 110 receivers that played at least 25% of their team's offensive snaps. I don't think many would care to argue that point. Cooper clearly regressed after having a decent year in 2013. It seemed like Cooper found a way to draw ire of the fans every week. Whether it was a poorly run route that led to an interception, a dropped pass in a crucial moment, a "WTF are you doing" run after the catch, or something else, he consistently disappointed. Blocking ability aside, that contract the Eagles gave him isn't looking so hot. While I think most thought Cooper wasn't going to be as productive as he was in 2013, I don't think anyone saw him being THIS bad.
The conspiracy theorist in me can't help but wonder if Cooper's high-ankle injury suffered in the summer was worse than some realized and that it set him back all year. I think this because Matt Tobin looked great in the preseason before suffering the same injury and then struggling mightily in the regular season. Allen Barbre suffered a high-ankle injury in Week 1 and was placed on injured reserve. A full healthy Cooper may not have been that great, but maybe he wouldn't have been as bad?
Numbers: 779 snaps, 67 rec, 876 yards, 13.1 Y/R, 8 TD, 44 Long, 5 drops, 0 fumbles
Review: Jordan Matthews may be the youngest player on the Eagles but he sure didn't show it as a rookie. The Vanderbilt alumnus finished just 36 yards short of tying the most yardage by an Eagles rookie receiver. Matthews was a huge upgrade over Jason Avant in the slot. It looks like the Eagles are content with keeping Matthews on the inside for the future.
Numbers: 210 snaps, 8 rec, 98 yards, 12.3 Y/R, 0 TD, 44 Long, 4 drops, 1 fumble, 7 rushing yards
Review: The polarizing rookie had his fair share of ups and downs. It took a while for Huff to even be active because he entered the season with a significant shoulder injury suffered in the summer. Huff made some real bad mistakes at real bad times, but he also flashed some real potential. The Eagles are reportedly still very high on Huff so he'll certainly have the opportunity to make an impact moving forward. Finding a way to cut down on the mistakes would be an ideal start.
Numbers: 82 snaps, 5 rec, 46 yards, 9.2 Y/R, 15 Long, 0 drops, 0 fumbles
Review: Maehl mostly only suited up while Huff was recovering from injury. His number was rarely called, but when the ball was thrown his way he did his job.
Numbers: 61 snaps, 1 rec, 11 yards, 11 Long, 1 drop, 0 fumbles
Review: Smith's sole catch of the entire season came on a crucial fourth down conversion against the 49ers late in the game. The Eagles never really tried to use Smith in a wildcat package like they did in 2013. While he was invisible on offense, he made some contributions on special teams. One of those contributions was a bad one: Smith was responsible for not fielding the weird kickoff at the beginning of the second Eagles-Cowboys game.
Review: The undrafted free agent rookie from Rutgers flashed at times in the summer. He made some impressive catches during training camp. He'll be a long-shot to keep an eye on.
Review: The former Oregon Ducks wide receiver spent the entire season on the practice squad for the second straight year. Can he make it a hat-trick?
Who Could Leave
Jeremy Maclin is a free agent. I highly doubt the Eagles will let him walk. Even if they can't agree to a contract extension, Philadelphia can just use the franchise tag on him to make sure he doesn't slip away.
While some would like to see Riley Cooper released, the Eagles are kind of stuck with him because he costs more money to cut than to keep.
Brad Smith is a free agent. The Eagles might offer him a veteran minimum type deal.
Jeff Maehl is an exclusive-rights free agent which means he won't be leaving if/when the Eagles tender him to a minimum offer.
Who Could Sign
Some of the big names include Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), and Green Bay Packers (Randall Cobb) but I'm not sure those teams let them get away. If anyone could shake free, it might be Cobb. That said, I don't expect the Eagles to add a big name. Maybe just a depth guy to compete for a depth spot.
NFL Draft Options
While the 2014 NFL Draft class was heralded for it's depth at wide receiver, 2015's group isn't looking too shabby either. The Eagles have been looking at speedy wide receivers at the Senior Bowl. Sammie Coates and Phillip Dorsett could be a few names to watch.