NFL

The Eagles Missed a Massive Opportunity to Get the Best Receiver in the League

The Philadelphia Eagles are currently 3-5-1, somehow sitting atop the NFC East with a mediocre record. It’s the perfect opportunity to supercharge their roster and become worthy of first place. Fans need something to assuage their fears, given that Carson Wentz has shown himself to be anything but a dependable starting QB.

The wish list before the trade deadline was long. Yet the day came and went without any big moves. It’s a change from the deadline wheeling and dealing the organization did over the past few years. But it turns out that the one deal they took seriously was also one that fans wrote off as a pipe dream.

The trade rumors that had Eagles fans’ hopes up

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According to NJ.com, the Eagles had little interest in most of the wish lists fans threw around leading up to the trade deadline. Instead, they set their sights high. DeAndre Hopkins, the best wide receiver in the NFL, was the prize they wanted.

The Texans star was one of the top trade targets around the league. If the Eagles were to make one big move that would have the largest impact on their record going forward, the former Houston Texans receiver easily topped the list. It would have been a perfect fit in many ways, not least because of the dearth of dependable free agents on the 2020 Eagles so far.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The Eagles weren’t just poking around at Hopkins. The deal was ready to go, but the Philly front office declined, as per ESPN‘s Adam Schefter, due to Hopkins’ desire for a quick extension at his new home. The Eagles let the deadline pass, and Hopkins went to the Arizona Cardinals.

Zach Ertz’s injury magnifies the missed trade opportunity

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz walks off the field with cornerback Darius Slay and quarterback Carson Wentz | Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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With an inexperienced core of receivers, Hopkins could’ve been a big boost for this year. That goes double considering the injuries that have dogged the Eagles throughout 2020. NJ.com reports that the Birds’ receivers, in particular, have been hit hard.

According to Yahoo Sports, Zach Ertz never found his stride in 2020. But the 30-year-old WR didn’t get much of a chance, finding himself on the injury list on October 30th. The Pro Bowl-quality that defined his last few seasons was probably part of the decision to leave Hopkins on the shelf. 

It’s a situation that puts the Eagles’ relationship with Ertz in a different light. Rather than risk another poor season, he’ll instead become a trade target. That leaves the Eagles’ receivers in a precarious position, with no concrete solution in sight.

The current wide receiver situation in Philadelphia

Hopkins could’ve made a big impact in 2020. But the real benefit of a potential trade would’ve been a huge bet on the Eagles’ future. The lack of steady-handed free agents is a sore spot, and Philly was within inches of covering up their biggest gap.

It’s all magnified by the Ertz injury, but even the deadline situation wasn’t a good look. Hopkins went to the Cardinals in a widely-disparaged one-sided trade. It could have — should have! — been the Eagles in the win column here. It’s a somewhat understandable mistake, given that, as USA Today reports, the Eagles organization was initially excited about their young offensive group.

Now, the weight shifts to 25-year-old Dallas Goedert. Barring a shift back toward talks similar to the Hopkins trade, Philly will instead have to build around him. It’s mostly about his age, rather than a proven NFL-level resume, that centers Goedert in this discussion. But with Hopkins in Arizona, and shyness toward free agents, it’s likely the best the Eagles have to work with entering 2021.