After a whirlwind beginning to the season that included him becoming the No. 2 receiver, due to injury, and overcoming his inappropriate comments by attending counseling and begging for forgiveness, Riley Cooper really took full advantage of the opportunity the Philadelphia Eagles gave him. Most speculation had him being released early in the year, regardless of the fact that the Eagles were to be without Jeremy Maclin for the season, stemming from racial remarks he made that were caught on video and later made public.
Cooper didn’t start the year looking like the stellar performer the Eagles were hoping for when he was thrust into the role of receiver partner to DeSean Jackson. Then again, with the exception of the first game, Philadelphia didn’t as a whole.
It took time, but Cooper eventually produced what the Eagles had hoped for from the beginning, when they took a chance on him and kept him on the roster. He simply had his best year as a professional, taking advantage of the gift he was presented with, along with an opportunity to solidify his necessity in Philadelphia.
Cooper did more than that. He became the favorite receiver of, now starting quarterback, Nick Foles and presented the Eagles with a large bodied receiving option. By no stretch did Cooper become an All-Pro receiver, as demonstrated by his open-field drop in the playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
However, Cooper did show a special connection, a comfort with Foles which often made him the favorite receiving choice when available. Cooper caught more passes and scored more touchdowns than he had in his entire career before 2013.
Becoming a free agent, the Eagles now have some difficult decisions to make. Cooper demonstrated that he can be productive. He’s probably not the No. 2 receiver that Philadelphia counted on him for this season, but he can definitely be valuable as a third and to assist on special teams.
Depending on the market, Cooper may find the opportunity to find some larger contract to play elsewhere, but it would benefit Philadelphia to lock him up early for something more comparable to what he’s actually worth, keeping him as an option for Foles and as a large target for Chip Kelly’s offense.