Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper (14) catches a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Why The Eagles Need Cooper More Than Maclin

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What to do at wide receiver?

Two of the Eagles’ top receivers are due to become free agents this year. Philadelphia wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are both due to hit free agency. I expect both to consider offers from elsewhere. Cooper, fresh from an off-season marred by idiotic comments, has emerged as a top contributor on Chip Kelly’s offense. Cooper has developed a superb relationship with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and is becoming a key player in Kelly’s scheme. However, he has had a couple of drops at key moments and has only really blossomed over the last eight weeks. Has he really done enough to earn a long term deal at wide receiver?

Prior to 2013, Jeremy Maclin had emerged as a blossoming star on the Eagles roster. Before his season-ending injury, I had expected Maclin to outperform Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson within the Eagles offense. Maclin has safe hands, a mature attitude and the skill set required to be a number one receiver in this league. Will he be able to return to that level of play in 2014, following a serious injury?

The Eagles need a dynamic option opposite DeSean Jackson. Cooper, I feel, is the better fit right now. He adds extra height to the Eagles offense, is a legitimate red zone threat and has shown the ability to make difficult catches in tight spots. His perceived racist comments last summer are likely to diminish his value to other teams, as coaches wonder whether their locker room would accept him. This makes it more likely that the Eagles could tie up a three or four year deal for a discount price.

Maclin, however, is now an unknown quantity. If he would return to the Eagles on a one year deal, I would take the option, but Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman would be wise to show caution. A torn anterior cruciate ligament is a tough injury for a wide receiver to recover from. Particularly one who relied heavily on his pace and route running skills to evade defenders. Injuries like this often re-occur, or lead to similar injuries in the other knee as the body overcompensates.

A wiser choice for the Eagles may be to keep hold of Cooper, let Maclin walk and take a shot on a wide receiver in the draft.

If you were Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly, what would you do?


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Tags: Jeremy Maclin NFL Free Agency Philadelphia Eagles Riley Cooper

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