Although the Philadelphia Eagles signing of wide receiver Miles Austin was greeted with a whole lot of head scratching and question marks, it was actually a smart move. Now you’re probably asking yourself “a smart move? What is this guy thinking!?” Well, just hear (…or read) me out.
Ever since Jeremy Maclin signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, it was clear that the Eagles would need to add multiple wide receivers to fill the remaining void. Although the team didn’t pursue any of the high profile options at the position in free agency, they ended up signing former Cowboys and Browns wide receiver Miles Austin. Surely this isn’t the move fans were hoping for but it’s just the beginning for what head coach Chip Kelly is envisioning at wide receiver in his scheme in Philadelphia.
It’s no secret that Austin is constantly battling injuries, specifically to his hamstring, throughout his career. It’s also worth noting that Austin will be 31 years old by the time the season begins. But adding another injury prone player fits what Kelly has been doing this entire off-season. Of course it is concerning but it’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward option for the birds.
Although he’s clearly past his prime, Austin was playing reasonably well in Cleveland last season and that’s with a revolving door at quarterback and all the nonsense that went along with it there. His hamstring actually wasn’t a problem but his season was cut short due to a freakish kidney injury. Prior to suffering the injury, Austin actually played his best game of the season against the Buffalo Bills, finishing with 7 receptions for 86 receiving yards.
The Eagles signed Austin to a one-year, $2.3 million contract which also has another $700,000 available through incentives. That seems a bit pricey considering his injury history and age but there appears to be little to no guaranteed money in the deal. It may not seem like much, but that makes this deal a bit easier to understand.
Heading in to the 2015 season, there was no way the Eagles could be confident with Riley Cooper being the leader in the wide receiver meeting room. He’s a mediocre player that has never been “the guy” on a team and never will be. But Austin has been in the league for 10 seasons and has been the go to guy for a team before and played at a high level, specifically in 2009 and 2010 when he eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl both years.
Currently on the roster at wide receiver, Philadelphia has six players besides newly signed Austin. Those players are Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl, Quron Pratt and Will Murphy. They have 232 career receptions, 25 career receiving touchdowns in 51 career starts, combined between the six of them. 69 career starts. Austin has 348 career receptions, 36 receiving touchdowns in 69 career starts by himself. With those numbers, it’s easy to see why a veteran presence was needed.
Now that he’s in charge, it has become clear that Kelly isn’t afraid to take a chance on someone if they have injury concerns. He’s confident in his sports science approach to training and getting players in the best possible shape they can be in. Kelly traded for Kiko Alonso and Sam Bradford, signed DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews and Miles Austin, on top of also extending DeMeco Ryans‘ contract for another year. That’s a whole lot of injury risk that Kelly frankly doesn’t care about.
Whether that will pay off or not is yet to be seen, but it’s a bit easier to understand why Austin was brought in to Philadelphia. He may never post another 1,000 yard receiving season again but he’s a high character veteran that the younger guys can look up to and go to for advice, questions, etc. As fans, we often don’t care about what goes on “behind closed doors” regarding practices, positional meetings, etc. But having that veteran presence often goes a long way, just look at what Jason Avant did during his time here.
Avant wasn’t a “Kelly’s guy” and that’s likely why he was let go, on top of his diminishing ability on the field. But Austin still has a bit left in the tank if he can stay healthy, he posted solid numbers for the Browns last year, finishing the season with 47 receptions for 568 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games. It’s likely in Austin’s best interest to be in Philadelphia as well because of their sports science knowledge, if anyone can get whatever he has left out of him, it will be the Eagles’ training staff and Kelly.
By no means does the signing of Austin mean the Eagles are done addressing the wide receiver spot. There is still plenty of work to do and the team will likely spend an early pick on the position. But let’s stop overreacting to such a low-risk move that may end up reaping a big reward for Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles.
More from Inside the Iggles
- Eagles captains earn high praise on roster blending veteran leadership, youth
- How former Eagles star Cre’Von LeBlanc helped Renegades upstage Cowboys
- Eagles 2023 schedule: Every WR duo Darius Slay, James Bradberry will battle
- Imagining better names for Jason Kelce’s Good Guy Award
- Bold predictions for the Philadelphia Eagles offense in 2023