The Philadelphia Eagles were entering a crucial offseason this spring. Fresh off a surprisingly impressive 2021 NFL season, all eyes were on Howie Roseman and how he planned to improve the roster.
Making the playoffs in 2021 was undoubtedly an achievement. However, sizable additions needed to be made. The secondary, defensive line, and wide receiver room were the most notable position groups of concern.
Roseman did land a significant defensive end addition in Hasson Reddick. However, he swung and missed at both WR and safety. The Eagles had the most interest in adding a veteran wide receiver alongside DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, but were forced to settle on a less-than-exciting option in Zach Pascal.
That begs the question; why were the Eagles unable to land one of the big fish in the WR market?
The Eagles missed out on multiple impactful WRs this offseason
Allen Robinson, Christian Kirk, Davante Adams, Robert Woods, Amari Cooper, Juju Smith-Schuster. That’s just a few notable wide receivers who will be playing for new teams this offseason. According to several reports, the Eagles were interested in pretty much all of these players at one point in time. Robinson, Kirk, and Smith-Schuster were all intensely linked to the Eagles before they landed with their new teams.
97.5 The Fanatic’s John Kincade reported on-air that the Eagles had an interest in Robert Woods, but could not poach him from Los Angeles. Kincade also reported the Eagles were in on Jarvis Landry — an interest that has likely evaporated following the addition of Pascal.
Another report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had the Eagles as a team in the market for Allen Robinson, before he signed a three-year deal with the Rams.
As it typically goes in the NFL, Eagles beat reporters quickly squashed the idea of Philly “missing out” on any of these mentioned players. However, the Eagles promptly signing Pascal just a few days later proves Philadelphia was, in fact, interested in adding a WR this offseason.
The front office simply couldn’t land any of the big names.
Is Jalen Hurts to blame for the lack of WR additions this offseason?
A lot goes into a free agent deciding which team he wants to play for. Money, location, and potential connections on the roster and coaching staff are all factors that could’ve worked against Philadelphia this offseason.
However, with so many significant wide receivers seemingly ignoring the Eagles for other teams, one can reasonably assume Philly is not being viewed as an attractive destination for veteran receivers right now … which is typically an indictment on the starting quarterback.
Whether you’re a Jalen Hurts fan or not, it’s impossible to ignore the fact he’s one of the most run-heavy starting quarterbacks in NFL history. Last year, the Eagles had to completely revamp their playbook for Hurts, transforming the team into a run-first unit.
It helped Philly sneak into the postseason. However, it’s clearly not an attractive style of offense for veteran WRs who want to rack up receiving yards and touchdowns.
Will the Eagles double down on Jalen Hurts’ style of football?
Hurts is only 23 years old. He’ll likely improve as a passer moving forward. However, the odds of him turning into a Patrick Mahomes or a Josh Allen — someone who free agents are itching to play with — is incredibly slim.
Hurts ranked 21st in passing yards, 28th in completion rate, 22nd in passer rating, and 19th in QBR last year. That’s just the type of passer he is. In a league that contains ascending young talent like Mahomes, Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, and Lamar Jackson, Hurts will not be WRs’ first choice to catch passes from.
Juju Smith-Schuster even went on record saying the reason he chose the Chiefs — on a relatively small salary — is due to the presence of Mahomes. The quarterback position matters when it comes to attracting free-agent WRs to one’s team,
Ultimately speaking, the Eagles are being forced to double down on Hurts’ style of football in 2022. Pascal is a solid run-blocking WR who doesn’t offer much in the passing game — the perfect type of player to roster alongside Hurts.
However, the question is; how much longer can Philadelphia afford to operate like this? Are they willing to go full-blown run-first offense for the next decade? Or, are they willing to have a conversation about Hurts impacting their ability to be active in free agency?
Only time will tell, but it’s impossible to ignore the amount of swinging and missing the Eagles did at the WR position this offseason. It’s not a good look for a front office that likes to call themselves “aggressive.”
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.