This offseason the Eagles have a big question at wide receiver, as two of their top three guys in Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are set to hit the free agent market. As much as the Eagles and their fans would love to have both of them back, that is very unlikely, and the Eagles may have to resort to having to choose one.
It looks like Maclin is the fan-favorite to be brought back, and who can blame them? Maclin was the team’s leading receiver in 2012 with 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven touchdowns
However, Maclin did just suffer a torn ACL back in August during training camp, and ACL injuries are very difficult to come back from, even with today’s medicine. Very rarely do you get a return like that of Adrian Peterson.
With Maclin being a receiver and having to make a significant amount of cuts on the field, you have to question how much he is going to trust his knee and how much of an impact he is going to be next season.
With Maclin being out, receiver Riley Cooper took full advantage of his opportunity as the Eagles number two receiver behind Desean Jackson, recording 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cooper does have his flaws, but some of them aren’t really that big of a deal. One flaw that is said about Cooper is that he drops a lot of passes. One example of this is his big third down drop against the Saints in the playoff game. Contradictory however, is that Cooper actually had less drops that Jackson last season.
One more reason that Cooper should be brought back over Maclin and it’s probably the most important. Riley Cooper has chemistry with Nick Foles. With Foles under center and including the playoffs Cooper had 81o yards and eight touchdowns on 45 receptions.
He proved that he could be a threat in the end zone as well as a threat on third down and on the deep ball. In fact 41 of Cooper’s 47 receptions in the regular season went for a first down or touchdown.
Cooper was basically a nobody before Maclin’s injury, he was just the stupid guy who made a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert. With Foles and taking advantage of his opportunity, Cooper became a legitimate number two target.
In six games with Foles in 2012, Maclin had 37 receptions for 479 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Cooper had 23 receptions for 499 yards and six touchdowns in his first six games with Foles.
They both have similar statistics in yards, but considering Cooper had 14 less receptions and double the amount of touchdowns, it could be detrimental to take Cooper away from Foles.
We have yet to see Maclin in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, but as of right now it looks like Cooper is a pretty good fit in it. There is no reason the Eagles should get rid of him and sign Maclin instead, other than for the stuff that Maclin has done in the past, which is irrelevant now coming off of a torn ACL.
The Eagles have a pretty tough decision coming up at the wide receiver position and what they do could very much affect their young franchise quarterback. If needed the Eagles could also draft a receiver in the first or second round of the draft.
Eagles general manager Howard Roseman and coach Kelly have a lot to think about this offseason, and whichever direction they choose, it will be to benefit the team. Whether the answer be Maclin, Cooper, or through the draft, they will do whatever is best for the team moving forward.