While fans are tantalized by the mere possibility of signing Alshon Jeffery or trading for Brandin Cooks, it’s far more likely the Eagles will settle for a veteran wide receiver within their modest means. For that reason, Pierre Garcon is not at all an implausible target.
To take that thought process one step further, Mike Jones for The Washington Post has gone so far as to say the Eagles “are expected to want” Garcon. Expected. That doesn’t necessarily indicate the Redskins wideout is at the top of the free agent wish list, but it does strongly suggest there is going to be some interest is there.
The logical question here is, “Why?” Clearly, there are superior receivers available, Jeffery and Cooks being the tip of the iceberg. Garcon turns 31 before the season even begins, so his inevitable decline might be near. Plus, if we’re being specific about the Eagles’ needs, we’re talking about speed on the perimeters, which Garcon was never a burner.
Is Garcon the best, most logical fit for the Eagles? Probably not, but it does make some sense when you consider the organization’s situation and how events are likely to unfold in the coming days.
Once again, consider the Eagles’ financial situation. While moves are no doubt coming to free up some cash, the club is currently sitting at just $8.6 million under the salary cap. With a series of trades and releases, the Eagles will be hard-pressed to come up with much more than $20 million by the time free agency opens on March 9, and that might be generous.
Even if the Eagles have $20 million, signing any of the top-tier free agents will be a large drain on those funds. Jeffery made $14 million last season and could fetch a comparable amount long-term. Cooks is looking for a huge extension, too, plus is expected to cost a first-round draft pick. Kenny Stills of all people is said to be seeking $12 million annually on the open market. Any young, remotely high-profile receiver out there is going to get paid this offseason.
Which brings us back to Garcon. Because of his age and body of work, the nine-year veteran is unlikely to command anywhere near the kind of money being bandied about above, nor the commitment in contract length. What’s more, he’s an extremely reliable target.
Just last season, Garcon racked up 79 receptions for 1,041 yards, which were the second-highest totals of his career. Granted, 2016 might was a bit of an outlier, but it showed he can still play. And in the eight years since he became a starter, Garcon has averaged 70 receptions and 880 yards per campaign. Those are respectable totals, not to mention he hasn’t missed a game since 2012.
The downside is clear. Garcon is not a permanent fix and could decline at any moment. He doesn’t fill the Eagles’ need for speed, no is he a serious threat in the red zone with just 37 career touchdowns.
Then again, what do the Eagles need more from free agency: one of the brightest, young, most expensive stars available, or a credible receiver of any kind who can get open and will actually catch the passes coming from Carson Wentz?
This is the type of understated move savvy front offices will make. Sure, there are ways to structure contracts in such a way where the Eagles can be players for Jeffery, Cooks, Stills or DeSean Jackson. Then again, once the bidding begins, there are other NFL teams that have more to spend and will flex their muscles when the time comes.
That doesn’t mean the Eagles will be shut out of the market. It just means they may have to look at the advantages to making the less popular choice.
Rating the Rumor: Not ideal, but not at all unlikely