Carson Wentz the big winner after Eagles' free-agent flurry

Carson Wentz the big winner after Eagles' free-agent flurry

When Carson Wentz went to sleep on Wednesday night, his best outside receivers were Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham. 

No more tossing and turning. 

Wentz will sleep a little easier from now on. 

While Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will be counting their millions and while Howie Roseman will be receiving praise for pulling off the short-term deals, the real winner on Thursday was the Eagles' 24-year-old franchise quarterback. 

Wentz finally has some weapons aside from his hunting rifles. But these weapons are actually good for the Birds. 

All things considered -- the ups and downs included -- Wentz had a solid rookie campaign in 2016. The No. 2 overall pick completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in Year 1. As a rookie and for a team with a serious deficiency at wide receiver, he moved into fourth place all-time for Eagles passing yards in a season. 

Wentz wasn't perfect as a rookie, but he certainly didn't do anything to disprove the Eagles' notion that he can be the guy to lead the franchise for the next decade. And now he has the tools to make a jump in that all-important second year. 

The objective this offseason was pretty simple. A year removed from working to acquire a franchise quarterback, this entire offseason was all about finding ways to build around him. While signing receivers to what are basically both one-year deals might not seem like the way, it at least ensures that Wentz will have quality receivers to work with in 2017. It ensures that he'll be able to get into a rhythm and be able to count on his receivers to catch passes. 

It ensures that his growth won't be stunted by players who simply don't belong. 

How many times did Wentz seemingly avoid pressure, run around in the backfield for five or six seconds only to find that no one had gotten open? How many times did he throw for a first down only to have the ball dropped? How many times could a receiver have pulled in a tough pass that wasn't perfectly thrown to help him out but didn't? 

Forget Bryce Treggs and (yes, sorry) Paul Turner. DGB and Agholor are now afterthoughts -- if the Eagles get anything out of them next year, great. But now, the Eagles will have proven commodities lining up for them next season -- these guys chose to come and play with Wentz, too.

And the way the puzzle should fit makes a ton of sense. 

Jeffery is the big-bodied (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) receiver that Wentz can feel confidence in when he throws up a 50-50 ball. More times than not, Jeffery will come down with it. 

Smith, even after six years in the league, is still a burner. He's the field-stretcher who can finally help Wentz hit on long balls. Just six players have caught more 40-yard passes than Smith (25) since he entered the league in 2011. That was an area where the Eagles were awful in 2016; they had just six 40-yard completions. 

And Jeffery can catch the deep ball, too. Both Smith and Jeffery have had a season with more 40-yard catches than the Eagles pulled in during 2016. 

On top of Jeffery and Smith, the Eagles will still have two of Wentz's favorite targets -- Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz -- roaming the middle of the field. The two additions ought to help both of them find plenty more open space across the middle. 

Those Eagles fans who always see the glass as half-empty -- and there are plenty -- will scoff at these moves. They'll point at the declining numbers for both players, which are undeniable facts. Catch totals have dropped for Jeffery and Smith in each of their last three seasons. But without that drop-off, neither would be holding press conferences in Philly on Friday. Instead, they'd be playing on huge deals elsewhere. So think of these moves as low-risk, high-reward options.

The low risk comes in the form of the short-term contracts. The high reward will come if having them for at least a year helps Wentz grow. 

Because ultimately, that's what it's all about: helping Wentz grow. 

And it's hard to grow without getting a good night's sleep. 

NFL Notes: Vikings' Mike Zimmer says he'll coach with 1 eye if necessary

NFL Notes: Vikings' Mike Zimmer says he'll coach with 1 eye if necessary

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has had a lot of time on his hands this week while sitting at home on his Kentucky ranch as his team went through optional practices in the Twin Cities.

Zimmer was under strict orders to leave the team and rest his right eye, which has needed eight surgeries to try to repair a detached retina. The lingering issues have led some to wonder if he would be forced to shorten his career.

Zimmer has heard the speculation all week long. The hard-nosed coach said he has reached out to some of those doubters personally this week.

"I'll be back shortly," Zimmer vowed in a conference call with reporters on Friday. "One eye or two, it doesn't matter. I'll be back. We can put that retiring thing to bed quickly."

Zimmer missed one game last season due to the problems with his eye . He tried to work through the issues, but said on Friday that he was told to skip this week's practices and go home to allow his eye to recover.

"It's not much fun," he said. "Usually I love it down here in my place here. But I don't love it too much this week. It was kind of a forced situation. But for the long run it's the best thing for me."

Giants: Smith trying to resurrect career
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Geno Smith didn't catch a break in his final two seasons with the New York Jets, and it seems his chances of resurrecting his career with the Giants are facing obstacles.

Not only does Smith have to beat out incumbent Josh Johnson for the backup quarterback job to Eli Manning, his prospects of making the team took another hit in the NFL draft when the Giants selected Davis Webb with their third-round draft pick.

The 26-year-old Smith doesn't seem concerned.

Speaking after the Giants organized training activities Thursday, Smith sounded confident for a player who had a promising rookie season four years ago and then regressed, in large part due to inconsistency.

"Honestly, I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anyone other than myself," said Smith, who has played in only three games in the past two seasons, starting one. "I am just trying to be my best every single day, focusing on trying to be perfect. I know that is a far goal to try and reach, but just trying to be perfect every day and understanding what is required of me once I step onto the field, and then trying to get it done."

Redskins: Injured Moreau final draft pick to sign
ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins have signed the final member of their 10-player draft class, third-round pick Fabian Moreau.

The team announced the deal Friday.

The cornerback out of UCLA tore a pectoral muscle at his pro day in March. He was projected to be a first- or second-round pick before the injury and went 81st overall to the Redskins.

Moreau says doctors told him it was a five-month recovery, putting him on track to be ready by late in the preseason. The 23-year-old was at Washington's practice facility for rookie minicamp and the first sessions of organized team activities.

Coach Jay Gruden says the team is playing by ear the injury situations of Moreau and fourth-round pick Montae Nicholson and hopes they learn the schemes for the secondary as they rehab.

NFL: Judge tosses lawsuit over cheerleader wages
SAN FRANCISCO -- A lawsuit accusing the NFL and team owners of conspiring to suppress wages for cheerleaders lacks evidence to support that claim, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed the lawsuit by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader. The suit sought class action status on behalf of all NFL cheerleaders.

"To state an antitrust claim here, plaintiff must plead not only `ultimate facts, such as conspiracy, and legal conclusions,'" Alsup said. "The complaint must answer the basic questions of `who, did what, to whom (or with whom), where, and when?'"

An email to an attorney for the 49ers cheerleader, Drexel Bradshaw, was not immediately returned. The cheerleader was only identified in the suit as "Kelsey K."

Alsup gave her an opportunity to amend the lawsuit and refile it by June 15.

The lawsuit was among a spate of legal actions in recent years accusing NFL teams of failing to pay cheerleaders for hours they spent practicing and making public appearances.

ESPN hires Chip Kelly as college football studio analyst

ESPN hires Chip Kelly as college football studio analyst

Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly is joining ESPN as a studio analyst next season.

ESPN announced Friday it has signed Kelly to a multiyear deal.

Kelly will primarily be part of Saturday pregame, halftime and wrap-up shows on ESPN2. He'll also provide NFL analysis on Sundays during SportsCenter.

The 53-year-old Kelly spent the last four seasons in the NFL, coaching the Philadelphia for three years and San Francisco for one. Kelly was fired by the 49ers after going 2-14 last season. He was 26-21 with a playoff appearance for the Eagles.

Before jumping to the NFL, Kelly spent four seasons as Oregon head coach and went 46-7. In 2010, Kelly led the Ducks to the BCS title game and was The Associated Press coach of the year.

"I spoke with a lot of people this offseason about different situations for me -- in coaching and TV," Kelly said in a statement. "I had various opportunities in both. In the end, I have had a relationship with ESPN for many years from when I was coaching and after speaking with them, I decided it was the best step for me to take."

Kelly figures to be in demand at the college level when head coaching jobs begin opening next season. Spending a season or two doing television has been a common path for coaches between jobs. Urban Meyer spent a season at ESPN between resigning from Florida and landing at Ohio State. So did Rich Rodriguez after being fired by Michigan and before being hired by Arizona.

"I have been a coach for nearly the last 30 years," Kelly said. "Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different perspective, but I didn't take the job with the intention it will lead to something specific. I love the game of football and working with good, smart people; ESPN presents an opportunity to combine those two things."

Kelly will fill an opening left by Butch Davis, who became head coach at Florida International.

Kelly was considered one of the most innovative coaches in college football. His up-tempo spread offenses dominated defenses and were mimicked by teams all over the country.

"As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach," said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer. "We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process."