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Eagles were clearly looking to hire a former NFL wide receiver as their new WR coach

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Maybe it’ll work this time?

Steelers Ward and Randle El Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles officially filled their wide receivers coach vacancy last week by hiring Vanderbilt wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. Moorehead notably played in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts from 2003 through 2007.

Moorehead wasn’t the only former player the Eagles were considering, though.

We already knew that the team had interest in Hines Ward and Bobby Engram. We’ve since come to learn that Brian Hartline and Antwaan Randle El were also in the mix.

The MMQB’s Albert Breer wrote this about Hartline earlier this week:

USC OC Graham Harrell was one college coach the Eagles looked at hiring in January. Here’s another: Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline. Philly pursued the ex-NFL receiver to help with the team’s passing game and coach its wideouts, which is another sign of how the Eagles looked at trying to add some outside-the-NFL influence to their mix. Hartline wound up deciding to remain in Columbus in 2020, but Philly wasn’t the only team to show interest in this rising coaching star, and this isn’t the first year it’s happened. The Colts, for one, looked hard at Hartline a couple years ago, too.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed Randle El interviewed with the Eagles this offseason.

It’s unclear if Moorehead was truly the Eagles’ preference. Ward, Engram, and Randle El were in positions where their team could’ve blocked them from leaving. Hartline couldn’t be blocked but he seemingly turned Philly down.

Regardless, it’s clear that the Eagles were looking for a former NFL wide receiver to be their receivers coach. And that’s not surprising given how much the Eagles value former players on their coaching staff. See: Doug Pederson, Duce Staley, Justin Peelle, Mike Bartrum, Marquand Manuel, etc.

Getting a former player to coach the Eagles’ receivers looks like a course correction from Carson Walch holding the job in 2019. Walch was an All-American at Division II Winona State but he never played in the NFL. He clearly doesn’t possess professional receiver size; I’d guess he’s only about 5’6” or so.

The last time the Eagles had a former NFL wide receiver coach their receivers was when Grew Lewis oversaw the position on Doug Pederson’s original staff back in 2016. Lewis was fired after Philly arguably had the worst receiving corps in the league but he landed on his feet by reuniting with Andy Reid on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs’ receivers haven’t struggled to succeed under Lewis’s tutelage.

It’s to be determined if Moorehead can break the curse of Eagles wide receivers coaches only lasting one year in that role. A recap:

2015 — Bob Bicknell
2016 — Greg Lewis
2017 — Mike Groh
2018 — Gunter Brewer
2019 — Carson Walch
2020 — Aaron Moorehead
2021 — ???

The Eagles upgrading their talent at receiver will obviously be critical. Should they come to feel that Moorehead’s coaching isn’t up to par, though, perhaps they’ll again reach out to one of the former players they didn’t end up hiring this offseason.