Riley Cooper Now The Philadelphia Eagles’ Odd Man Out
Riley Cooper‘s agent miscalculated.
Last week, the wide receiver signed a five-year, $25 million contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. While this contract was being negotiated, Cooper’s teammate, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, was seeking his own contract extension with Philadelphia. The 25-year-old Maclin ultimately signed a one-year contract with a maximum value of $6 million one day later. When healthy, Jeremy Maclin has been the Eagles’ most consistent pass catcher and offers separation and ball skills that Cooper cannot match.
Locking up Cooper was good for the Eagles’ offensive continuity after he developed a strong rapport with Nick Foles in 2013. Extrapolating Cooper’s full season production with Foles as starter comes to 1166 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are No. 1 wide receiver-type numbers that would surely have drawn significant interest from a number of receiver-needy teams during free agency.
For the Eagles, Cooper is a luxury, not a necessity. Philadelphia was one of the most efficient and productive offenses in the NFL last season, ranking second in total yards and fourth in total points. Though he plays in an offense that is projected to rack up even more of yards and points in Chip Kelly‘s second year and Foles’ first full year as a starter, Cooper is unlikely to be the beneficiary of the rain making. With Maclin now under contract and expected to be healthy to start the season, Cooper may be relegated to playing exclusively in three-receiver sets. Meanwhile, the ascendence of Zach Ertz also guarantees that Kelly will deploy more two-tight sets, and therefore, less three and four-receiver sets in 2014. The Eagles also project to continue to feature a running game that led the league in rushing yards last season.
As the full-time X receiver in 2013, Cooper had the opportunity to make numerous big plays. In 2014, he will be competing with Maclin for snaps in a run-heavy offense that features the tight end and will struggle for consistent targets.
Looking to capitalize on his breakout 2013 campaign, Cooper clearly misread the situation when he signed a multi-year extension with Eagles. Playing a supporting role moving forward, he may never realize the total value of his new contract. It would have been more prudent for Cooper and his camp to sign a one-year deal with more guaranteed money or test the free agent market in hopes of signing on with a team in need of a full-time starter.
Howie Roseman: 1, Cooper’s Agent: 0.