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What the Eagles should do at wide receiver

Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Our Philadelphia Eagles roster outlook series following the 2022 season continues by examining the wide receiver position. PREVIOUSLY: Quarterback | Running back.

THE PLAYERS

DEVONTA SMITH

REGULAR SEASON STATS: 1083 snaps, 136 targets, 95 receptions, 1196 yards, 12.6 yards per reception, 7 touchdowns, 8 drops, 1 fumble

PLAYOFF STATS: 208 snaps, 22 targets, 15 receptions, 197 yards, 13.1 yards per reception, 1 touchdown, 1 drop, 0 fumbles

REVIEW: The Slim Reaper’s sophomore season was understandably overshadowed (on a national level, at least) by how great A.J. Brown was. But Smith’s excellence shouldn’t be taken for granted. He continued to demonstrate superb technical proficiency with skillful sideline grabs. The leaping catch he made against during the Eagles’ final drive against the Cowboys in Week 16 was pretty insane. And yet it should not have been shocking to see him pull it off since he’s that good. Smith finished the season ranked tied for 18th (with DeAndre Hopkins) in yards per route run, just below Ja’Marr Chase and Terry McLaurin.

OUTLOOK: DeVonta is no WR2. He’s a WR1 on a team that boasts two alpha dogs. Considering he doesn’t turn 25 until November, the best is still ahead of him. Note that Smith won’t be eligible for a contract extension until after the 2023 regular season. It’s worth noting that Smith was recently seen in a walking boot so it’ll be worth monitoring if that injury lingers into the Eagles’ offseason program.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

DeVonta Smith: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (3003 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (35 votes)
3038 votes total Vote Now

A.J. BROWN

REGULAR SEASON STATS: 1004 snaps, 145 targets, 88 receptions, 1496 yards, 17.0 yards per reception, 11 touchdowns, 5 drops, 2 fumbles

PLAYOFF STATS: 179 snaps, 22 targets, 13 receptions, 146 yards, 11.2 yards per reception, 1 TD, 1 drop, 0 fumbles

REVIEW: A.J. Brown was exactly as advertised from the jump. He looked awesome in training camp. He looked awesome in the regular season, becoming the first Eagles wide receiver to go over 1,000 yards since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. He was a bit quieter in the first two playoff games before looking awesome again in the Super Bowl. His touchdown catch in the big game was pretty sick considering how he tricked Trent McDuffie into thinking the ball was coming in sooner than it was in order to get open. Brown finished the season ranked tied for third among all receivers in yards per route run, per PFF. Only Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson were above him.

OUTLOOK: Brown is signed through 2026 and he turns 26 in June. He’s an elite player in his prime. He figures to be the Eagles’ top target again next season. If there is one area to nitpick, he could do a better job with ball security after fumbling twice last year. Of course, the risk of those turnovers is what you sign up for with a player who runs very hard after the catch.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

A.J. Brown: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (2921 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (40 votes)
2961 votes total Vote Now

QUEZ WATKINS

REGULAR SEASON STATS: 681 snaps, 51 targets, 33 receptions, 354 yards, 10.7 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns, 3 drops, 1 fumble

PLAYOFF STATS: 106 snaps, 3 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards, 0 TD, 1 drop, 0 fumbles

REVIEW: Quez was the extremely rare Eagles player who underachieved expectations in 2022. Entering the season, there was thought he could provide value as a big play threat. And he did have one such touchdown in Week 2. But the bad really outweighed the good that he put forth. Pro Football Focus graded him 100th out of 103 wide receivers who saw a minimum of 35 targets. Watkins made glaring mistakes in three of the Eagles’ four total losses. His fumble against Washington killed a comeback effort that ruined Philly’s undefeated streak. He was the target on the two interceptions thrown by Gardner Minshew in the Dallas Cowboys defeat on Christmas Eve. Watkins failed to come up with a deep target that went through his hands in the Super Bowl. It was a fitting end to a disappointing season for the third-year player.

OUTLOOK: Watkins is currently set to have the 18th-biggest cap number on the 2023 Eagles since the Proven Performance Escalator bumped up his salary to $2.7 million. That’s too much money to be paying to him. The Eagles can clear that amount by either cutting or trading him (preferable). Maybe trade Quez and a late Day 3 pick for a higher Day 3 pick? Especially since the Birds currently have no selections in rounds four, five, or six. It’s also possible that they could try to get him to take a pay cut to stick around, which is what they originally did with Rasul Douglas in 2020 ... before waiving him later anyway.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Quez Watkins: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Stay
    (468 votes)
  • 84%
    Go
    (2642 votes)
3110 votes total Vote Now

ZACH PASCAL

REGULAR SEASON STATS: 338 snaps, 19 targets, 15 receptions, 150 yards, 10.0 yards per reception, 1 touchdown, 1 drop, 0 fumbles

PLAYOFF STATS: 68 snaps, 4 targets, 3 receptions, 15 yards, 5.0 yards per reception, 0 touchdowns, 0 drops, 0 fumbles

REVIEW: Pascal was basically brought in to be a souped-up version of what J.J. Arcega-Whiteside gave the Eagles as “an enforcer” (Nick Sirianni’s words) in 2021. And he was! In addition to doing the dirty work as a blocker and playing on special teams, Pascal was able to contribute more than JJAW’s two grabs for 36 yards. His impact going beyond the box score was on display for Dallas Goedert’s playoff touchdown against the New York Giants where Pascal ran a rub route without actually running into the defender to spring the tight end wide open.

OUTLOOK: The Eagles should be able to re-sign Pascal for relatively cheap to reprise his role again in 2024.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Zach Pascal: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Stay
    (2377 votes)
  • 17%
    Go
    (510 votes)
2887 votes total Vote Now

BRITAIN COVEY

REGULAR SEASON STATS: 19 snaps

PLAYOFF STATS: 2 snaps

REVIEW: Covey began the season on the practice squad. The Eagles signed him to the roster after using up his three temporary elevations. Save for logging some garbage time snaps on offense, Covey was limited to returning punts and kicks. And he got taken off kick return duty after failing to impress in that capacity.

OUTLOOK: Covey could theoretically earn a spot as the starting slot receiver. But it’s fair to wonder how much upside is left for a player who turns 26 in March. The Eagles should also be looking to provide him competition as a returner.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Britain Covey: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Stay
    (962 votes)
  • 64%
    Go
    (1722 votes)
2684 votes total Vote Now

DEVON ALLEN

REVIEW: Allen showed intriguing potential last summer as a big play threat on offense and a gunner on special teams. Despite this, the Olympian spent the entire season on the practice squad. The Eagles’ inability to lock up the No. 1 seed prior to Week 18 probably cost him a chance to get some NFL regular season snaps.

OUTLOOK: 2022 was Allen’s first year fully immersed in football since 2016. An adjustment period was to be expected. He could be in a better position to make the roster in 2023. Allen will need to make his case during training camp and the preseason games. It’s probably the last chance for the 28-year-old to get his football career going.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Devon Allen: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Stay
    (1763 votes)
  • 28%
    Go
    (692 votes)
2455 votes total Vote Now

GREG WARD

REVIEW: Ward missed most of training camp due to injury. He was waived but returned to the practice squad in late October. The Eagles temporarily elevated Ward for Super Bowl LVII but kept him inactive for the game.

OUTLOOK: G-Ward turns 28 in July. He’s a worthwhile practice body to have around in training camp but there shouldn’t be a place for him on the roster. (Looking even further ahead, I wonder if Ward might get into coaching shortly after retiring.)

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Greg Ward: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Stay
    (767 votes)
  • 67%
    Go
    (1581 votes)
2348 votes total Vote Now

TYRIE CLEVELAND

REVIEW: The Eagles signed Cleveland to their practice squad in mid-January. He was a free agent after finishing the regular season on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.

OUTLOOK: A player entering his age 26 season with eight career catches is probably not one with much remaining upside. Cleveland boasts a solid combination of size and athleticism, so, there’s that. The guess here is that he becomes this year’s Deon Cain; a low-ceiling veteran who pushes hard for a spot on the bottom of the roster but just misses out on making the team.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Tyrie Cleveland: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Stay
    (171 votes)
  • 90%
    Go
    (1619 votes)
1790 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

With Brown and Smith in place, the Eagles will not be majorly spending their limited resources on this position. They’re in “add a cheap dude for competition/depth” here. Perhaps take a flyer on Miles Boykin? Try to find someone who might be a good fit in the slot and can contribute as a returner, such as Trent Taylor?


NFL DRAFT APPROACH

The Eagles could conceivably add a wide receiver at No. 30 but a Day 2 or Day 3 pick seems much more likely.

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