The Eagles will be addressing the Wide Receiver position this offseason. That is about the only definitive thing we can say at this point. The only questions are how and by adding whom?
Since this is the time of year for mock drafts, mock free agency, opinions on how to fix the team, moves to make, etc., this is me just pondering about a move that could make a lot of sense…
Trade for DeAndre Hopkins.
Let’s consider a few things that Howie Roseman has stated recently and then try to “read some tea leaves”…
“We’re going to surround him (Wentz) and do the right thing for that kid so when he looks back on his career he knows he had every chance to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia.
But I think from our perspective, we want to make sure he’s on board with some of these things. Probably more free-agency than the draft because it’s hard for him to get caught up on the draft prospects.”
So, here we have Roseman basically saying that he wants to surround Wentz with talent and that he will likely have some input on free agency.
Then, there is this report from Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice saying there will be more salary cap space than expected:
“According to a source, the Eagles are expected to free up quite a bit of cap space prior to the start of free agency this year.”
Furthermore, we have Zach Berman of the Philly Inquirer thinking that the Eagles very well may not be looking to draft a WR in the first round this year based on this comment from Roseman:
“If you take out the 2014 wide receiver class and you look at this, it’s really been historically a tough position to acclimate in the National Football League,” Roseman said, referring to a class that included Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans, among other Pro Bowlers. “It hasn’t been a plug-and-play position. And I think that class changed everyone’s thoughts a little bit, but the reality is we have years of data that it’s a hard position to come to the National Football League and contribute. It’s a developmental position, and you’ve got to look at it when you’re drafting guys from that perspective.”
So, from all of this, one might be able to surmise that the Eagles will probably be looking at free agency as the more significant way to address the WR position.
The Eagles could certainly look at actual free agents and decide to go after one or two of them. Hell, we could speculate that since they just hired the former Bears’ WR coach, we have an inside track to Alshon Jeffery.
But, that’s too easy. I like thinking outside of the box sometimes because often the moves the Eagles make come out of left field and not so much what everyone “thinks” will happen.
Roseman is a wheeler and a dealer. Trades are his specialty. Whether it involves players, draft picks or a combination of the two, he is always working the phones and swinging deals. Furthermore, the man is motivated to make sure Wentz succeeds since his reputation moving forward as a General Manager will likely be directly linked to his success.
Now, let’s look at some other variables…
Hopkins has now completed four seasons in Houston. He is still under his rookie deal as the team exercised his fifth-year option. Since the new CBA has been in place, the Texans have re-signed each of their first round picks to an extension after their third year. That has not been the case with Hopkins.
Even though he has one more year, it would make sense that the Texans make a decision on his future this offseason. Do they want to pay him to keep him long term? Just let him play out his deal? Well, if they end up going into training camp without a new deal, it will likely be a distraction because a hold-out would be very possible.
That’s why, barring an extension, a trade could be appealing to Houston if they don’t really want to sign him long term.
In the past two years, the Texans have invested good draft resources into the WR position. In 2015, they selected Jaelen Strong in Round 3. In 2016, they selected Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in Rounds 1 and 3 respectively.
That’s a lot of draft capital at that position.
It’s reasonable to think that they may not want to pay a boatload of money to Hopkins if they want to develop Fuller, Strong and Miller.
On the Eagles’ side, a trade for Hopkins makes sense because he’s not only experienced, but still very young (only turns 25 in June). That fits nicely with the things Roseman said above.
Hopkins – 6’ 1” 215 lbs and runs a 4.4 40 — has been one of the best receivers in the NFL and has not missed a game in his four seasons. He has produced since Day 1 and had seemingly been “QB proof” until this past season when his stats suffered a little bit due to the struggles of Brock Osweiler.
Other variables to throw at this scenario are that Roseman has a history of talking trade with Houston (DeMeco Ryans) and they seem to have an infatuation with Houston players (Ryans, Connor Barwin and Brandon Brooks).
There is also something else that could lend a hand to this happening: the Texans lost their starting Center last year to free agency. The guy slated to replace him suffered a season-ending injury in the summer and went on IR.
They then had to turn to a UDFA in Greg Mancz. I can’t say exactly how Mancz fared this season, but I do know that Houston’s offensive line as a unit had some problems.
Why do I mention this? Well, there has been a lot of speculation that the Eagles may be done with Jason Kelce. Perhaps he could be part of a deal? Maybe throw in Mychal Kendricks to add to their ILB depth as well.
As far as what the Eagles would have to give up would be the tough part. I don’t think they’d part with their first rounder. But, I could see them giving up a 2nd in the deal. I’m not going to go too far in depth on what it would take to pull off a trade such as this, at this point I’m more enamored with the idea of landing Hopkins.
Purely speculation, but I would bet that if Hopkins is still not signed to an extension by the time free agency starts, Roseman will be on the phone with Houston finding out what it would take.
In other news on the trade speculation front, there has been some clamor about the idea of the Eagles trading for Antonio Brown.
The idea spawned from a Pro Football Talk article where Mike Florio speculated that Brown could be available for trade after angering the Steelers with his Facebook Live video and possibly being more concerned with his individual stats over team goals.
While the Steelers have shown in the past they aren’t afraid to do away with Wide Receivers they aren’t happy with (Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress), I think the chances of them letting go of Brown are slim and none. Fresh off an AFC Championship Game appearance and Ben Roethlisberger not getting any younger, they are in “win now” mode and Brown is a huge part of that.
Plus, Brown is a full four years older than Hopkins and the trade price would likely be higher. If I had a choice between trading for Brown or Hopkins, I’d choose Hopkins all day.