2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, WR: Is Jordan Matthews due for a contract extension?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, WR: Is Jordan Matthews due for a contract extension?

Was there a worse collection of wide receivers in the NFL in 2016 than the Eagles' group? Hard to say, but as bad as the unit was, at least they had two things going for them — they were young and cheap. Jordan Matthews was the oldest at 24 years old (once Josh Huff was released, anyway), while Nelson Agholor had the biggest cap hit at a little over $2 million.

That means there might be room for improvement with the players who are already here, and if nothing else, at least the Eagles didn't pay through the nose for such a lousy overall performance.

No doubt, the Eagles will look to upgrade the talent level at the position in the offseason, although it will be interesting to see what they do about Matthews as well. The club's leading receiver is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and happens to be the only wideout on the roster who's established himself as a viable target in the NFL, much less a weapon.

And make no mistake, Matthews is a weapon. While '16 was his worst season yet in terms of production with 73 receptions for 804 and three touchdowns, his first three years in the NFL put him in rare company. He's one of only seven players in history to post at least 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns during that span. The others: Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss.

Matthews is clearly a step down from that who's who of Pro Bowlers. Regardless, he's still incredibly underrated, and as things stand right now, the Eagles probably can't afford to let Matthews go. 

While the front office has another year to make that decision, waiting for Matthews to post a career year and then hit the open market ala Jeremy Maclin wouldn't be wise. The Eagles should be proactive this time, even though the result is costs go up for 2017.

Looking at some of the contracts signed by wide receivers in comparable situations last offseason, Matthews' deal won't be cheap. Doug Baldwin, Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns all re-upped with their respective clubs for four years at an average over $10 million and going as high as $11.5, with guarantees ranging between $12 and $20 million.

A new deal for Matthews can be structured in such a way that the first season will carry a reduced cap figure, although his number couldn't possibly get any lower than it is now. If the Eagles do this, it will increase spending for '17 — and they should go ahead and do it anyway.

WIDE RECEIVERS UNDER CONTRACT

Nelson Agholor
Age: 24*
Age: $2,557,465

Like it or not, Agholor is a near lock to make the Eagles' roster in 2016, and it boils down to dollars and cents. Should the 2015 first-round draft pick be released, his cap hit nearly doubles to over $4.94 million due to the remaining prorated bonuses from his rookie contract. If that sounds familiar, it's because the front office ran into essentially the same problem with Marcus Smith this past offseason. It's not like anybody is trading for him, either. Now, if Agholor doesn't show some improvement in training camp or at least carve out a role on special teams, the Eagles could decide the roster spot is more important than money. He wasn't THAT useless though, finishing with 36 receptions for 365 yards and two touchdowns — not so invisible as to eat twice his salary.

Jordan Matthews
Age: 25*
Cap Number: $1,574,768

Keep in mind, Matthews also missed two games due to injury this season and was hindered in others. Otherwise, he almost certainly finishes with more yards than his rookie season, and would've had an outside shot to beat out his career high for receptions and yards set last season. The complaints about dropped passes are warranted. The knock that Matthews hasn't recorded a 1,000-yard season is not, when just last year he racked up 85 catches, 997 yards and eight scores. Think what he could do with Carson Wentz entering his second season and another quality receiver on the outside to draw some of the attention away. Matthews may have a couple of Pro Bowls in him yet.

Dorial Green-Beckham
Age: 24*
Cap Number: $944,418

At least Green-Beckham had somewhat of an excuse for his last of production. The second-year pro only joined the Eagles by way of trade with the Titans in August, and by all accounts, he's not the type who's going to pick up a brand new offense in record time. Regardless, DGB's struggles went beyond numbers. It's amazing that somebody with his size and speed can't seem to threaten defenses perfectly or make the occasional acrobatic catch. Even the routine grabs were troublesome, as evidence by his 48.6 percent catch rate. That being said, he still managed to finish with almost identical numbers to Agholor (36 rec., 392 yds., 2 TD). Green-Beckham is young, gifted athletically, and there's no risk in bringing him to camp — his entire salary can be recovered in the event of his release.

Bryce Treggs
Age: 23*
Cap Number: $540,000

For a brief period in the wake of Josh Huff's release, it appeared Treggs might actually have a shot to make an impact. In his first game active, the undrafted rookie out of Cal caught two passes for 69 yards against the Giants, including a 59-yard grab that turned out to be the longest play by an Eagles receiver all season. Treggs' success turned out to be short-lived, however, as he wound up catching just one more ball the rest of the way. He has tremendous speed, but little else going for him. The Eagles nabbed Treggs off waivers from the 49ers after cut-down day and stashed him on the 53-man roster, but he'll have to show more in '17 to make the team again.

Paul Turner
Age: 24*
Cap Number: $540,000

Turner was the official Eagles preseason darling and leading the NFL with 17 receptions and 165 yards over four exhibition games. That didn't manifest itself in an opportunity to come off the practice squad and play until Week 12, and even then, he didn't see the field much. Outside of six catches for 80 yards in a Week 13 beatdown at the hands of the Bengals, Turner appeared in only three more games and caught only three more passes. He's undersized at 5-foot-9 and doesn't provide much value on special teams, making for a difficult path to the roster. Best guess is Turner would have to outperform DGB to merit a spot on the roster, although that's before seeing any other moves the club might make.

David Watford
Age: 24*

One of three receivers to sign a futures contract at the conclusion of the season, Watford signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie out of Hampton, where he played quarterback. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, he has good size, although the Eagles probably view him as more as a good athlete to keep around on the scout team than a prospect at wideout.

Marcus Johnson
Age: 23*

Johnson was also brought in as an undrafted rookie out of Texas and initially made the Eagles' practice squad, but was released after Sam Bradford was traded to make room for emergency quarterback Aaron Murray. Johnson was eventually restored to the scout team in December, but obviously he's not a priority prospect.

Rasheed Bailey
Age: 24*

Does this name ring a bell? The Eagles originally signed Bailey was an undrafted rookie in 2015 out Division III Delaware Valley, where he absolutely crushed the competition, finishing his senior year with 80 catches, 1,707 yards and 19 touchdowns. He's since spent time on the practice squads of the Jaguars and Chargers, but just on Wednesday he returned to the Eagles on a futures deal. While a fan favorite, Bailey has been three places now and has yet to crack a 53-man roster, so don't count on his fortunes changing in his second stint with the Eagles. Then again, in this receiving corps, you can't exactly rule anything out, either.

* Ages as of 12/31/17

Pete Rose says Bryce Harper's style of play would work well in Philadelphia

Pete Rose says Bryce Harper's style of play would work well in Philadelphia

Earlier this month Vegas put some pretty decent odds on Washington Nationals' star Bryce Harper landing with the Phillies in free agency when 2019 rolls around.

Our very own Mike Murphy made a pretty decent case for it: championship contention, boatloads of money, hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, etc. The Phillies and Haper do make some sense.

And then today on 97.5 The Fanatic's midday show with Rob Ellis, after discussing the loss of Phillies' legend Dallas Green, former Phillies great and MLB hit king Pete Rose weighed in on the prospect of Harper joining the Phillies.

Rose was asked if he thinks Harper would fit in well in Philly.

"Yes, because he plays hard," Rose said.

"Trout would be a good player in Philadelphia," he added. "It seems like all the great players in MLB today -- the superstars -- they all play hard. It's hard to be a great player today and not play hard. Because people aren't stupid. People are watching you on a nightly basis." 

"If you don't play hard, don't go to Philadelphia. That's gonna be the wrong place for you to play. And that's a credit to the fans in Philadelphia."

Rose also believes the Phillies have a man at the top who is willing to make a big splash in order to win.

"Mr. Middleton will spend whatever you need to win. I love John Middleton. He's a great owner. I would have loved to play for him because he's not stingy with his checkbook."

"You have to have somebody who knows what parts of the puzzle to give the money to. You don't have to rebuild, you have to add two or three ingredients to your situation so you can win."

Rose will have a chance to get on the Phillies Wall of Fame, so you will likely be hearing more from him this summer.

Alshon Jeffery turned to Adam Schefter before signing with Eagles ... or did he?

Alshon Jeffery turned to Adam Schefter before signing with Eagles ... or did he?

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

The casual sports fan probably thinks media guys like Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN's Adam Schefter are wizards. They're not. They just work really, really hard at what they do and have come as close to mastering their trade as seems possible.

Much of how they do exactly what they do is a mystery, but thanks to a very interesting piece in Sports Illustrated's MMQB, we're given a glimpse behind the curtain of Schefter's wizardry.

MMQB's Tim Rohan was given amazing access to mirror Schefter during his biggest day of the year: the first day of NFL free agency.

It's a fascinating portrait of a guy who is working at all times. ESPN has prevented him from driving a car because it wants him to be able to access his phone freely -- and safely -- at all times.

Schefter is basically an information dealer. Acquiring information, providing information, and telling the public about information when the time is right. The last part is tricky, but as Schefter explains it, years of experience have taught him how to interpret certain sticky situations.

One of the anecdotes of particular interest to Philadelphia Eagles fans involved free-agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who reportedly reached out to Schefter shortly after 11 a.m. on that day.

In the middle of Schefter’s flurry of calls, Alshon Jeffery (49 Markman points) rings him, wanting to know how much money the other free-agent receivers are making. Players sometimes contact Schefter with questions like this because he likely has that information even if he hasn’t reported it, as is the case here. Indeed, as they talk Schefter receives a text saying that Torrey Smith will be signing with the Eagles.

Schefter goes through the contract numbers on Smith, Jackson and Pierre Garçon, slowly, so Jeffery can apparently write them down. “It’s all about the guarantee, Alshon,” Schefter says. “It’s all about the guarantee … Your average per year could be $100 million. It doesn’t matter. If they’re going to guarantee you the majority of the contract, that’s what you want.”

Schefter asks where Jeffery is going. Jeffery doesn’t have an answer yet. Schefter asks that Jeffery notify him when he does make a decision and leaves the conversation at that.

The article goes on to explain that Schefter often provides information to people in hopes of receiving information back, first -- the scoop. But later in the day, a different reporter breaks the Jeffery-to-the-Eagles deal.

Details of that interaction were news to just about everyone ... including Jeffery. The new Eagles wide receiver tweeted out a response to that claim.

Regardless, the story paints the picture of a hard-working reporter who has mastered the art of juggling people and cell phones.

>>24 Hours... with Adam Schefter [MMQB]