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Here’s how much the Eagles will have to pay NFL free agent wide receivers

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The Eagles want to be penny wise, but not pound foolish.

Cleveland Browns v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In case you hadn’t heard, the Eagles are looking for new wide receivers.

NFL free agency’s legal tampering period begins tomorrow, which means there will likely be a frenzy of news starting to swirl about contracts and contracts-to-be. The Eagles have been linked to, and rumored to be linked to, a number of free agent wide receivers. The reality is Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ front office have probably talked about every single name out there.

But there’s only so much room under the salary cap, especially considering the Eagles haven’t been able to move Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, or Mychal Kendricks before free agency begins. Which begs the question: just who can the Eagles afford to sign?

There’s no real way of predicting contract figures before the things are actually signed, but connected reporters are usually able to figure out ranges. Yahoo!’s Charles Robinson has been busy plugging away at the Combine this week, and last night he let rip a series of sourced tweets about expected salary ranges for free agent wide receivers.

Let’s take a look at a few of the guys he mentioned:

Alshon Jeffery

Hmm, never heard of this “Al Shon Jefferies” guy, but it seems folks have taken a liking to him.

Jeffery is going to be the most-sought-after free agent wideout once the tampering period opens, and he’s going to get paid, even if there are concerns about his injury history. When healthy, Jeffery has been productive and impressive, and you can’t teach 6-foot-4.

And as such, this is the kind of gaudy money I’ve seen most folks speculate Jeffery could make. Some, like Rotoworld, think it could be even higher. To be honest, I have a hard time faulting a team willing to pay a great player a great amount of money.

But if Jeffery gets anywhere near $14M/year, or even eclipses the $10M mark, the Eagles will likely be significantly priced out of the running. Which is okay. The biggest contracts usually come with the biggest regrets.

Terrelle Pryor

Pryor is such a wild card. The quarterback-turned-wide receiver had an eye-catching 2016 campaign, pulling down 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns playing with a slap-dash group of throwers. And it was Pryor’s first year playing the position!

In my eyes, that can go one of two ways. Teams can figure him out, he can regress, and he can make you regret doling out a big contract... or he can refine his skills, use his gigantic frame (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) to his advantage, and turn into a game-breaking pass catcher on the level of an Alshon Jeffery.

In either case, I doubt the Eagles have the financial firepower to pursue Pryor if he’s going to make $11M. For what it’s worth, Spotrac’s financial projections have Pryor deserving $8.9M next season. So, yes, his market seems a little inflated right now, but that happens.

And even if his final figure ends up below $10M, I don’t know if I want the Eagles taking that risk on a guy who turns 28 this summer.

Kenny Britt

This is around the number I’ve seen and heard tossed around for Britt in the past few weeks, and frankly, this seems like a pretty good sweet spot to snag a solid, under-appreciated wideout.

In Britt, we’re talking about a guy who managed to pull down 1,000 yards and five touchdowns with the black hole that was the Rams’ quarterback situation last season. He was playing with straight-up scrubs and still hauled in more receiving yards per game than any player on the Eagles.

If the Birds get priced out of the big boys, which they likely will, Britt could be a great option at WR2. Especially if Howie Roseman figures out a way to land Brandin Cooks as WR1.

Terrance Williams

You’ve got to love the idea of bringing in a villain. Williams spent the first four years of his career with the Cowboys, and while he never had a true breakout year, his 2015 season (52 catches, 840 yards, 3 TDs) was certainly a solid argument for his getting paid.

Williams has good size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) and his catch rate this past season was over 70 percent, which would be a godsend for Carson Wentz. But the question must be raised: was Williams’ production through his first four years a product of lining up alongside Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley?

It’s tough to say, and it’s also tough to say whether paying $6M for a 27-year-old with good-not-great production and skills is a good investment or a bad one. Williams would make for a good depth signing at $6M. At $8M? I’d like a little more return for my money.

Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson is a back-page name in this free agency class, but there’s certainly value to be had in a wide receiver with his speed. In four years in Minnesota, the Vikings used him as a veritable Swiss army knife, handing the ball off to him 33 times and using him as the team’s marquee kickoff return man, to great results (five return TDs in 64 games.)

His making more than $4M doesn’t seem unreasonable, but Patterson isn’t worth a substantial investment higher than that. He’s never hauled in 500 receiving yards in a season despite playing all 16 games for the first four years of his career, and his yards per reception last season (playing with check down king Sam Bradford, admittedly) was a paltry 8.7.

He’ll probably land around $5M per year, which will make sense. Not sure the Eagles want to spend that on a guy who amounts to a middling WR3.