The Eagles didn’t need a wide receiver. What the offense was missing specifically was speed on the outside – a deep threat, if you will.
Torrey Smith checks that box and comes at a bargain.
Critics can point to two disappointing seasons in San Francisco for Smith, whose production bottomed out with 20 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Yet, despite the down year (as part of a directionless franchise with terrible quarterbacks), his career 17.0 yards per reception ranks third among active NFL players.
Smith is only a year removed from averaging a league-leading 20.1 yards per reception. In 2014, he caught 11 touchdown passes as a member of the Ravens. In 2013, he totaled 1,128 yards receiving. And in 2012, he helped the franchise win a Super Bowl.
In four seasons with Baltimore and a competent quarterback in Joe Flacco, Smith averaged 53 receptions, 898 yards and 7.5 touchdowns per year. And what those numbers don’t account for is the fear he put in defensive backs. Once referred to as “king of drawing pass interference,” defenders were flagged 12 times for a whopping 261 yards in ’14 alone.
While that seems like a long time ago, Smith is only 28 and has avoided serious injury throughout his six-year career. There’s no reason to believe his abilities have eroded that much.
Then there’s his extremely team-friendly contract. The Eagles will pay Smith $5 million in 2017, which will be well worth it if he returns to form. Then there are team options worth $5 million in ’18 and ’19 as well, giving the club the opportunity to keep Smith should he perform while simultaneously eliminating all of the risks.
What’s not to like?
Even had the Eagles had done nothing else to address the receiver position in free agency, Smith would’ve been a significant addition. The offense’s 6.2 yards per pass attempt were tied for 30th in the NFL last season, while only four teams had fewer than six completions of 40 yards or more.
Smith brings an element to the offense that the Eagles were sorely lacking last year. Not only will Carson Wentz be able to take more shots downfield, but opposing safeties will have to back off to account for the deep threat, opening up the middle of the field for the passing attack and giving ball carriers more room to run.