The Philadelphia Eagles believe they have the answer to the question that has haunted mankind since its inception: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper or both?
General manager Howie Roseman previously admitted re-signing both wide receivers would be “complicated.” Now, according to Jeff McLane for the Inquirer, the Eagles are ready to prioritize a deal with Maclin as it likely comes down to a decision between the two.
Both Maclin and Cooper are scheduled to become free agents a little more than two weeks away on March 11.
There’s been some debate over which one the Eagles should keep, but Maclin over Cooper is a no-brainer. Maclin is vastly more talented and posted better production in each of his last three full seasons than Cooper in 2013 despite playing in a less-productive offense. He’s a weapon no matter the type of route or where the Birds are on the field.
Maclin is coming off of a torn ACL that claimed his ’13 campaign, which does muddy the situation. However, the 19th overall pick from the ’09 draft said last week he expects to be 100 percent for training camp.
McLane reports the Birds’ plan is to sign Maclin on a one-year deal.
Cooper filled in admirably this past season, and much of the fanbase seems to have fallen in love with him, but the reality is he has limited ability. His size and ball skills make him a dangerous deep threat when matched up against a smaller cornerback down the field, yet are negated somewhat by the fact that he struggles to defeat press coverage or create separation on short and intermediate routes.
What are the odds Cooper is every going to haul in six receptions of 40 or more yards in a season again?
There’s also the signability factor with Cooper. ProFootballTalk suggests there will be an active market for Cooper in free agency. A lot of interest could spark a bidding war for his services.
There would undoubtedly be a high level of interest in Maclin if he were to hit the market as well, notably from the New York Jets. However, it’s easier for the organization to come to terms on a one- or two-year deal because it removes any form of commitment from the equation.
McLane’s report adds the Birds could sign a third receiver once free agency opens, and describes Jason Avant’s departure as “likely.”
Look for the Eagles to take a wide receiver in the draft as well, perhaps even with their first-round pick.
As for the possibility of re-signing both Maclin and Cooper, it just doesn’t seem viable from a salary standpoint. The Eagles were already second in cap space allotted to the receiver position in ’13, and that was with both players on their rookie contracts. Mac will receive a slight raise at least, while Coop could be poised to break the bank after his big season.
With free agency just a couple weeks away, it seems we’re heading for one of their departures in short order. If the Eagles have their way, they’ll be waving good bye to Cooper.