A look through 10 possible free-agent WR targets for Eagles

A look through 10 possible free-agent WR targets for Eagles

There have been plenty of reports already this offseason linking the Eagles' to soon-to-be free agent wide receivers. 

Not a big shocker. 

The Eagles, thanks to an unbelievably inadequate group of receivers in 2016, will continue to be linked to anyone with a pulse who can catch footballs. Already, we've heard Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Kenny Stills. There will be more. 

While talking in Mobile, Alabama, last month at the Senior Bowl, Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman hinted toward his preference to signing a free agent rather than trying to draft one, but it doesn't mean the Eagles won't do both. 

"I think if you take out the 2014 wide receiver class and you look at this, it's really been historically a tough position to acclimate in the National Football League," Roseman said about the class in 2014 that included Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks. "It hasn't been a plug-and-play position. And I think that class changed everyone's thoughts a little bit, but the reality is we have years of data that it's a hard position to come into the National Football League and contribute at, that it's a developmental position and you have to look at it when you're drafting guys in that perspective."

That doesn't necessarily mean the Eagles won't draft a receiver; it just means they won't rely on filling the hole by only drafting. They're very likely to sign a receiver in free agency. 

Here's a look at 10 options, in no particular order: 

Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery (6-3, 218) just turned 27 on Tuesday and seems to have a lot of really good football ahead of him. In 2013-14, he caught 174 passes for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. Since then, Jeffery played just nine games in 2015 and missed four games last year with a PED suspension. But forget all that. He's the best receiver on the market and he's going to get paid this offseason. 

For the Eagles: Sure, Jeffery would be a great fit on the field, but the price might drive the Eagles out of contention. 

Pierre Garçon
Garçon is 30 and will turn 31 in August. He's been a pretty good receiver throughout his career, with a peak in 2013. In 2016, he had another solid season, with 79 catches for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad. 

For the Eagles: Not sure this would be a home run for the Eagles. Sure, he would make them better in 2017, but he's not the explosive type of player the team desperately needs. 

Victor Cruz
Give Cruz credit. It looked like his career might be over until he returned in 2016 to catch 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown. Not great numbers but certainly better than what the Eagles had last year. Cruz is 30. 

For the Eagles: Doesn't make much sense (see story). Cruz doesn't appear to have much left and is a better fit in the slot. That's where Jordan Matthews has already established himself for the Eagles. 

Kenny Britt
At 28, Britt is coming off his first 1,000-yard season in 2016 just in time to hit the market as a free agent. Britt had some off-the-field troubles early in his career but seems to have moved past that. He posted highs in receptions and receiving yards last season and is a pretty good deep threat. 

For the Eagles: Sure, Britt should be on their radar. He can stretch the field some and is somewhat of a proven commodity, although they shouldn't expect the type of season he had in 2016 again. 

DeSean Jackson
Yeah, you're already pretty familiar with DeSean. The most amazing thing about him is he's 30 now but hasn't lost his big-play ability. The speed is still there. In his three years in Washington, he's averaged 19.0 yards per catch. In his six years in Philly, he averaged 17.2. He's actually getting better as a deep threat as he ages. 

For the Eagles: Yeah, a reunion makes plenty of sense. Jackson is aging but is also the type of big-play receiver the Eagles have missed since they had … DeSean Jackson. It also seems like he wants to come back. Again, price might get in the way. How much will the Eagles be willing to pay a 30-year-old speed receiver and what type of deal will Jackson be offered elsewhere? 

Kamar Aiken
Aiken (6-2, 213) is coming off a season where he caught just 29 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown. That's a disappointment after a 75-catch, 944-yard season in 2015. His 2016 season was bad for him, but could be good for teams who want a bargain. 

For the Eagles: Aiken is a lesser free agent compared to others and his 12.0 yards per reception average isn't great, but there's some potential there and a bargain could be something the Eagles are interested in. He was forced to play the slot in 2016, but I'm not sure that's where he fits best. 

Terrelle Pryor
Pryor, the 6-4, 223-pound former quarterback, had an impressive 2016 season, establishing himself as a real threat as a receiver in the NFL. He caught 77 balls for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. He's 27 but appears far from reaching his potential. He's among the top available receivers. 

For the Eagles: If Pryor actually hits the market, the Eagles should be interested. But it seems kind of unlikely that's going to happen. The Browns should either franchise him or try to sign him long-term. 

Robert Woods
Woods, 6-0, 190, has been pretty consistent since entering the league as a second-round pick. In his four NFL seasons, he's averaged 50.8 catches and 612.8 yards per season. Solid, but not worth big money. 

For the Eagles: Woods has some talent but has been stuck in Buffalo. And after four NFL seasons, he's still just 24. Would be worth looking. 

Terrance Williams
The former third-round pick put together four good seasons in Dallas, with his lowest receiving yards-season coming in 2016. His best year was 2015 when he caught 52 balls for 840 yards. 

For the Eagles: It seems likely the Cowboys will let Williams walk and he wouldn't make a bad No. 2 option for the Eagles. Before last season, he had always been above 16 yards per reception, which should be enticing. 

Kenny Stills
Like Woods, Stills won't turn 25 until April, which is a good thing. The former fifth-rounder has 164 catches for 2,738 yards in his four seasons and is a legitimate deep threat. His 16.7 yards per reception is something to note. 

For the Eagles: A cheaper DeSean Jackson? Possibly. But even if Stills isn't much cheaper than Jackson, he at least likely has a lot more tread on the tires. The Eagles should definitely be interested. 

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

The Eagles need cornerbacks. Plural. 

It's not a secret that the team's biggest weakness heading into next week's draft is at the cornerback position. So it would stand to reason that their best bet might be to simply take the best one off the board when they're on the clock at 14.

But NFL Network's Mike Mayock, on his annual pre-draft conference call marathon extravaganza Friday, said he thinks they should take a different approach. 

Looking at the top corners in the draft, Mayock is convinced Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore will be off the board well before the Eagles are on the clock at 14. His next rated corner is Gareon Conley. After that, Mayock has Marlon Humphrey but pointed out his major flaw of struggling to find the football in the air. 

So if Conley makes it to 14, the Eagles should pick him, right? 

Not so fast. 

"So I look at it this way, if Conley's on the board at 14, you have to compare him to the best playmaker on offense on your board," Mayock said. "Because I'm not convinced the Eagles should go defense, to be honest with you. 

"If Conley's not there, I think you want to go get your corner in the second or third round and I think they need two corners. But my perspective is, you drafted Carson Wentz. You better support him. You signed two wideouts in free agency (Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith) who are both effectively one-year contracts. Your slot receiver, (Jordan) Matthews is in the final year of his deal. (Brent) Celek, the tight end, is 32 years old. 

"So you might sit there and go, 'This year looks OK,' but get a running back. Get a (Christian) McCaffrey or a Dalvin Cook. Get a tight end, O.J. Howard. Get weapons. Get one of those wideouts you like. So I would be comparing Conley to the highest playmaker you have on the board offensively. And I might be leaning towards offense if it was me." 

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. 

When Zach Ertz looks at the recent history of great quarterback-tight end duos in the NFL, he can't help but notice one thing stands out. 

"Those guys have been together for a long time," Ertz said Thursday afternoon. 

Brady and Gronk have been together for seven seasons. Cam and Olsen have been together for six. And Brees and Graham were together for five. 

"And I think just having that, where you're on the same page regardless of the coverage," Ertz continued. "If they give you this coverage, you know exactly what you're going to do. If they give you that coverage, he knows exactly what I'm going to do. When to expect the ball vs. certain coverages, it might be a little earlier, it might be a little later. So it's just that constant camaraderie where we're able to know what the other person is thinking without thinking about it."

Ertz hopes that's the kind of relationship he can forge with Carson Wentz, who will enter his second NFL season in 2017. 

Ertz and Wentz spend a lot of time together in the facility and away from it. A group of Eagles went to Ertz's wedding earlier this offseason, and of course, Wentz was present. If it seems like Ertz is going to great lengths to build a rapport with his quarterback, he is. 

After going through Mike Vick and Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford, the Eagles' starting tight end finally has a quarterback that isn't going anywhere for a while.  

"It's going to be huge," Ertz said about playing with Wentz for a second straight year. "I think when Carson was drafted, from the receivers and tight ends, that was the one thing we were really excited about. That we knew for the next five, 10, 20 years, hopefully, in Philadelphia, we knew who our quarterback was going to be."

Since he was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Stanford, Ertz has been an extremely productive player. But that has set up huge expectations as fans wait for a "breakout year." Zach Ertz might never be Rob Gronkowski, but the numbers are hard to argue. 

In the first four years of his career, Ertz has 247 catches for 2,840 yards and 13 touchdowns. Since 2013, here's the list of tight ends who have more catches and yards than Ertz: Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates. 

Ertz and Jeremy Maclin are the only two players in Eagles history to put up those numbers in their first four seasons. 

The argument often heard about Ertz's numbers is that they come in garbage time. Ertz has historically been an absolute beast in December. In the last few years, that hasn't meant much to a struggling Eagles franchise, but if they're in the playoff hunt in upcoming years, they'll probably want that trend to continue. 

The one statistic that doesn't seem to match the others: touchdowns. While Ertz has been among top tight ends in the league in receptions and yards, his 13 touchdowns rank 17th among tight ends since 2013. (It's not a stat, but for what it's worth, Ertz would likely be among the league leaders in touchdowns called back for penalties in the last few years.)

"I want to be the guy in the red zone, believe me," Ertz said. "For the first four years in my career, I think the most touchdowns I had in a year was four. So this year, we didn't have a lot of red zone touchdowns and that falls on us as players to get it down when we get down there, make plays when the ball's in the air. That's something I do pride myself on, making those tough and contested catches, whether it be in the red zone or third down. I want to be more of a go-to guy in the red zone, but I've got to earn that this spring and summer, earn that trust of the quarterback as well as Doug (Pederson). It's going to be a process, but when you look at the great tight ends in the league, the first thing that stands out is touchdowns."