Just eight months ago the Philadelphia Eagles had a major controversy on their hands, as Riley Cooper was seemingly at odds with many of his own teammates over controversial remarks he made at a country music concert. Fast forward to present day, and Cooper is going to be a very rich man courtesy of a five-year, $25 million deal that caps off a turnaround of historic proportions.
After missing two days early in training camp and even having a fight with teammate Cary Williams following these ignorant comments, there was genuine debate as to whether or not Chip Kelly would simply release the wide receiver. Ultimately he decided against this happening, and Michael Vick played a big part in bringing Cooper back into the locker room both through positive actions in the media and behind closed doors actions.
The decision paid off in a great fashion as after Jeremy Maclin went down with an injury early in training camp, Cooper became the second option at wide receiver for the Eagles behind DeSean Jackson. Cooper would then go on to have a career year, catching 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns with an additional six catches for 68 yards and one touchdown as the Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round.
Moving forward there is little doubting that Cooper has a great future with the Eagles, specifically in the type of offensive style that Kelly likes to operate. At 6-foot-3, 222-pounds he has above average size, which is only aided by the fact that he is one of the most efficient route runners in the NFL and is not afraid to go across the middle and get hit. When you combine this with the fact that Cooper has the speed to get downfield and beat defensive backs, you have a guy who can slide either inside or outside, which is a versatility that Kelly relishes.
Rewarding the 26-year-old with a new contract was only justified and ensures that the Eagles have an established core of two top receivers on the books for the foreseeable future in Cooper and Jackson. Furthermore, it caps off a heartwarming comeback for Cooper, who has gone from a villain in his own locker room to an indispensable figure in a mere seven-month span.