Howie Roseman has some tough decisions to make this offseason. The future of core pieces like Brandon Graham, Jason Peters, and Jordan Hicks, are up in the air.
While the Eagles can’t keep everyone that is looking for a new contract within the next two seasons, one player they should not let get out of Philadelphia is WR Nelson Agholor.
According to CBS NFL Insider Jason La Confora, the Eagles could be open to a trade involving Agholor if the two sides can’t agree on an extension that would lower the $9.5 million salary cap hit his 5th-year option has on the books.
The Eagles are rumored to be "open" to trading Nelson Agholor https://t.co/Yn9i5ag8jk
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 28, 2019
Even if the Eagles can’t lower that number significantly, they cannot afford to lose the former USC Trojan for a number of reasons.
The Eagles will have to spend money at WR regardless
Agholor at $9.5 million is what receivers of his caliber make in the NFL.
For example, Jets WR Quincy Enunwa, 49ers WR Pierre Garcon, Jaguars WR Donte Moncrief, and Packers WR Randall Cobb all are making $9+ million annually.
While Dolphins WR Albert Wilson, Redskins WR Paul Richardson, and Jaguars WR Marqise Lee all make $8+ million a year.
Lets take a look at Agholor’s stats over the past two seasons compared to the others.
2017-2019 Nelson Agholor stats:
126 receptions 1,504 yards 12 touchdowns
Average 2017-2019 stats of other $8+ million receivers:
84 Receptions 1,092 yards 5 touchdowns
Agholor has averaged more receptions, yards, and touchdowns over the past two years than the average of those receivers. If you asked any GM who they would rather have between Agholor and those receivers listed, Agholor would likely be the choice.
This also shows that #2 WR caliber receivers make more on the open market than they likely should. So if the Eagles don’t think Agholor is worth it and suddenly have a serious need at WR, they would likely have to replace Agholor with a free agent that would cost somewhere in the $7-$10 million dollar range anyway.
Receivers like John Brown, Golden Tate, or even Adam Humphries will likely get that money in an open market.
They can elect to draft a receiver but with the way receivers take time to develop, they will need a veteran to compliment Alshon Jeffery.
The roster needs to add youth and speed. Not lose it.
The Eagles core isn’t on its last legs. They also however aren’t the youngest team in the league. At 25 years old, Agholor has a lot of years left to grow with Carson Wentz (26 years old) as a core piece of the offense.
The former 2015 first round pick also offers something the Eagles offense needs to add even more of. Speed. Wentz has the big receivers to throw to and the technician route runners. The only player that has been able to use speed to get down the field on a consistent basis is Agholor.
Agholor had eight receptions of 30+ yards in 2018. He has 14 in the last two years. Unlike some one-dimensional burners, those plays have come off vertical routes on the outside, plays in the slot, play-action, etc.
That is a strength the Eagles need to add more of on top of Agholor. Not lose the deep threat Carson Wentz already has proven chemistry with down the field.
Agholor has gotten better every year
It isn’t fair to “box score scout” when determining Agholor’s value. On multiple occasions in 2018, Agholor was not targeted on potential big plays.
Stop using stats to define a WR.
Inconsistent QB play in 2018 is biggest reason Agholor’s numbers were meh. pic.twitter.com/WJMVCfmK4X
— Tyler Steege (@TSteegeNFL) February 12, 2019
While his career high in receiving yards was the 768 yard mark set in 2017, Agholor raised his reception total in 2018 from 62 to 64, surpassed 700 receiving yards again with 736, and had two more receptions of 30+ yards.
That was all despite Wentz struggling to make plays down the field after suffering a stress fracture in his back, and the addition of Golden Tate that limited Agholor’s role in an offense that already spreads the ball around.The Eagles used Tate in the role Agholor previously filled and the offense suffered because of it.
Pederson spoke about Agholor yesterday at the NFL Combine glowing about the receiver who never let his reduced role deter him.
“Love this guy — first in, last out,” Pederson says of Agholor. Says addition of Tate affected Agholor (negatively) pic.twitter.com/KRrVaR34RG
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) February 27, 2019
Nelson Agholor arguably had the worst start to an NFL career anyone has ever had. Seeing him come from being benched in 2016 to becoming the dangerous, versatile threat he is has been one of the best story lines on the team.
Hopefully the Eagles and Agholor can agree on an extension because the young play-maker is too valuable to lose.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate