Grading the Eagles’ moves: WR Torrey Smith

Grading the Eagles’ moves: WR Torrey Smith

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.

Grade: A+

Related: Grading the Eagles' moves: WR Alshon Jeffery

Forget Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan, Johnny Gaudreau wants to play for Flyers someday

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Forget Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan, Johnny Gaudreau wants to play for Flyers someday

Forget about Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan. (Forget about Millville too — sorry, Mike Trout.)

Another South Jersey star athlete has his eyes on playing for a Philadelphia franchise someday.

Yes, we're talking about Carneys Point, New Jersey's very own, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.

On a radio hit Friday with 94WIP's "Morning Show," Gaudreau expressed his interest in one day putting on the orange and black.

“It would be sweet to play [in Philadelphia] someday,” Gaudreau said. “You never know in sports, but it’s a lot of support back here in South Jersey and the Philly area.

“I’ve got a ton of family here, all my friends. All my friends come back here, all my good friends and kids that I’ve played with my whole life are from South Jersey.”

The problem is, "Johnny Hockey" has five years left on his six-year, $40.5 million contract extension he signed with Calgary signed before last season. 

In the final year of his contract, 2021-22, Gaudreau has a modified no-trade clause … and yep, the Flyers are reportedly on that list too.

Gaudreau, who turns 24 on Aug. 13, scored 18 goals and 61 points in 72 games last season with the Flames. The 5-foot-9, 157-pound Gaudreau has 73 goals and 204 points in 232 career games in Calgary.

The former Hobey Baker Award winner will be turning 29 when he's able to reach unrestricted free agency.

Could he be what Jeff Carter was to the Kings in 2012 to the Flyers in 2022?

Only time will tell.

H/t to Sportsnet.

Why Philadelphia must reject LeBron James

Why Philadelphia must reject LeBron James

Why do the Sixers always have to ruin everything?

First they get our hopes up with a draft and free agency period that actually involved picking good players who aren’t injured or committed to playing overseas. It was just what we’ve wanted for years: A complete rejection of the foul legacy of Sam Hinkie.

But then Markelle Fultz got hurt in Summer League, with an “ankle sprain” that I’m sure will heal properly and not cause any setbacks that might cause Fultz to sit out some or all of training camp, the pre-season, or his entire rookie year. I trust the Sixers’ medical staff. After all, they helped get us to where we are today.

Then the Sixers had the gall to charge fans to sign up for the season ticket waiting list -- if you ask me, after the last four years, season tickets should be free. Just about the Sixers have exciting players and might be better, they think they can charge more for tickets? That’s ridiculous!

Then something even worse happened: LeBron James, it appears, is FRIENDS with Ben Simmons. And based on that... we’re hearing LeBron might sign with the Sixers as a free agent next year.

NO. Absolutely not. Even though I’m usually more on his dad’s side when it comes to the Sixers, I agree with Spike Eskin: I’d rather lose a championship without LeBron than win one with him.

The reasons are simple. LeBron isn’t one of us. He’s not a Philly Guy. He’s not loyal. He’s from Ohio. He doesn’t get our lunchpail mentality. Remember The Decision? All the choking? And besides, when you win a championship with a big free agent, it doesn’t really count. If he wins with us, he'll just move on to the next team. 

And don’t you dare compare his chasing a ring with Pete Rose signing with the Phillies in 1979. That was totally different.

And most importantly, there's this:

Luckily, football season is about to start, and at least there’s some good news on that front. Ezekiel Elliott has been getting arrested at an Okafor-like clip. Chris Christie lied about tanning at a closed public beach, showing once again that Cowboys fans can’t be trusted with power. And free agent D’Angelo Williams announced that, because of how terrible their fans are, he would never sign with the Cowboys. Everything about them just screams 3-13.

The Eagles? Eh.

Other Philly sports takes:

I was with Iverson through the practice rants, his feuds with teammates and coaches, his sad alcoholism and throwing his naked wife out of the house. But skipping BIG3, here in Philly? He’s gone too far.

Ben Simmons, though, is the anti-Allen Iverson: He regularly produces highlight-reel excitement in practices, but never plays in games.

This Phillies team badly needs toughness, discipline and splittle-inflected rage. Yes, it needs Larry Bowa.

I’m all for the Phils trading for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Then, all they have to do is trade all their remaining outfielders for Mike Trout.

Joel Embiid needs to stop putting his long-term health at risk with dangerous, risky stunts like standing in the crowd at the Home Run Derby.

A little presumptuous of Carson Wentz, founding a charitable foundation after just one year in the league. You have to EARN that.

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