I am not one of them. I think the Eagles’ wide receivers are extremely overrated. They’re not top five or top ten. They’re about average, and average isn’t good enough for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations this season.
DeSean Jackson would not be a number one receiver on most teams. He is a very good number two, but he is essentially a one-trick pony. Now he does work that trick–his speed–better than almost anybody in the league, but he has a tendency to disappear for two to three quarters in a row throughout a game. Sometimes it’s worse.
Jeremy Maclin is the best all-around receiver on the Eagles, but he wouldn’t be a number one on most teams either. He too is a good number two. He has size, speed, and toughness, but he struggles to stay healthy and he has never had a great statistical season (although many are picking him as a breakout player this year).
Jason Avant has been widely regarded as one of the slot receivers for a number of years but I’m slowly starting to think that Avant is very overrated. He doesn’t have speed or strength, his hands don’t quite live up to his reputation, and he has made a few costly fumbles over the past few years. He’s good for 10-yard receptions but he is not going to scare any defenses, and he’s not going to save the Eagles if Jackson or Maclin go down.
Riley Cooper is the fourth receiver, but he is more on the team for his special teams ability. I think he could be in danger of getting cut if he doesn’t perform soon, or if newly signed receiver Mardy Gilyard becomes a playmaker.
The only other receiver on the team is undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson. He has potential but he has one career catch and he obviously can’t be counted on as a playmaker.
The big problem for the Eagles is when Jackson or Maclin miss time.
Last year, Jackson missed the Arizona Cardinals game and it completely changed the dynamic of the passing attack. The Cardinals played their safeties up in the box, and helped stop the short passing game without having to worry about being burned deep.
Also last year, Maclin missed a trio of games in midseason. The Eagles kept Avant in the slot, which forced Cooper to play as the second starting receiver. The dropoff between Maclin to Cooper was tremendous, and it’s not something the Eagles want to happen again this season (not that Cooper is healthy anyway).
I’d expect the Eagles to target a receiver in the second or third round next season. But why not go for somebody right now?
According to a report by Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel, the Green Bay Packers have been unable to work out a contract extension with receiver Greg Jennings, who is in the final year of his current contract. McGinn suggested that the Packers try to trade Jennings before the trade deadline this season.
“Everybody will posture as high as they can get,” an executive in personnel said. “But I would think Green Bay would be comfortable taking a second-round pick. It’s much better to get something for him than just let him go in free agency.
“I certainly would be comfortable with a two. Pushing 30. Injury stuff. Has had a little bit of a slow start. He’s looking for a lot of money so people will say, ‘I have to pay this amount of money; I don’t know if I want to give up the one and the money.’”
This would still keep the Packers with one of the better receiving corps in the league: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, and Jarrett Boykin.
Cobb is in his second year and has star potential. He could replace Jennings if the Packers were to go ahead and trade the veteran.
If they did, Jennings, who turns 29 in about a week, would be an ideal fit in Philly.
I truly don’t know if the Eagles would list him as their one, two, or three receiver, but he would be a huge help for a receiving corps that isn’t quite as good as the Eagles think they are. For what it’s worth, I think he would be the best receiver on the team.
Jennings has 394 catches for 6205 yards and 49 touchdowns in his six-year career (plus one game in 2012). He earned Pro Bowl selections in 2010 and 2011, and he has averaged 69 catches for 1107 yards and nine touchdowns over the past five seasons.
He has definitely benefited from playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre before him, but he’s still a playmaker who could instantly help bolster any team’s offense.
With the Eagles one game (and one win) into an all-in year, they should seriously consider sacrificing a second round pick for a top receiver with four or five more years in his prime.
After all, they’d probably just waste the pick on another safety like Jaiquawn Jarrett.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. You can follow Bryn on Twitter by clicking here and here. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.