This offseason, in an attempt to boost a putrid receiving corps, the Eagles went out and signed two veterans in Rueben Randle and Chris Givens.
Both were one-year contracts, without much guaranteed money — what are commonly referred to as “prove-it” deals. But a couple weeks away from final cuts, their two roster spots seem to be in jeopardy.
So, have they actually proven anything yet?
“Well both of them really have come on,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday. “I think with Chris' skill set, a speed guy, he's done a nice job catching the ball this week – as all of them have done. Rueben is kind of the veteran, the savvy guy, the smooth, more of the silky runner. And [they are] really two veteran guys that lead that young receiver group.”
It will be hard to lead the receiver group if they’re not on the team — and that certainly seems to be a possibility. The Eagles went out and traded for Dorial Green-Beckham, while undrafted rookie Paul Turner has come on strong, fighting for a roster spot.
Of course Randle and Givens both said they expect to make the roster. They’re confident and they should be. If not, then what’s the point?
They each came to Philly on such cheap and short deals because they had something different they needed to prove and the Eagles gave them a shot to do it.
Randle, 25, finished out his rookie deal with the Giants last year with a good season: 57 catches, 797 yards and eight touchdowns. Yet as a free agent, Randle’s deal with the Eagles was worth just $1.025 million with just $500,000 guaranteed. The problem for Randle in the NFL hasn’t been talent, it’s been his personality and his perceived effort.
Talking in the spring, Randle said the Giants judged him incorrectly because of his laid-back personality. When asked if Eagles view him differently, Randle said, “I hope so.”
Then there’s the issue of his on-field effort, which came into question while he was with the Giants and has already come into question since he’s been with the Eagles.
“I understand that,” Randle said. “I feel like I get read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort. I get a lot of [flak] from that. If I go out there and make a one-handed catch and make it look effortless, I get praised for it. If I do all these other things effortlessly, it’s like I’m not giving much effort. It’s just kind of one of those things, you just have to go out there and make some plays and see how it goes from there. I don’t read into it too much. I put my best foot forward each and every game.”
In the first two preseason games, Randle played 54 snaps, was targeted five times and had three receptions for 13 yards.
Then, there’s Givens, 26, who had his best NFL season as a rookie with Sam Bradford in 2012. The Eagles signed him to a one-year deal worth $840,000, with $180,000 guaranteed, hoping he could rekindle the on-field chemistry he once had with the quarterback.
What did he want to prove coming to Philly?
“That I’m a guy that they can depend on and I’m a guy that can do more than one thing,” Givens said. “I’m a guy that really takes working on my craft and becoming the best player that I can be to heart. And that I’ve really put in the work and the time to do all the things that I need to do and be in the right place all the time.”
Givens hasn’t played much in the first two preseason games. In 17 snaps, he’s been targeted just once and doesn’t have a catch. Givens said he’s not worried about his lack of preseason snaps because if the Eagles needed to see him play more, he’d be in.
The veteran also said he doesn’t feel pressured by the younger receivers who are pushing hard for a roster spot; Givens said he’s never been one to worry about what other guys are doing. He just wants to focus on himself.
So has he proven what he wanted to so far?
“I think I have,” Givens said. “I feel like I definitely surprised a lot of people as far as being able to run routes and catch the ball and things like that. It’s just one of these things where I continue to work on it every day and being able to show that I can do all the things that are asked of me in this offense.”