Eagles: Making sense of Howie’s comments about the wide receiver position

Howie Roseman held a conference call with media today regarding the progress of the offseason, and the most interesting answers were predictably about the lack of action at wide receiver, and what the plan at the position is moving forward.

Here’s the comment that’s getting the most play:

“We view our receiver situation differently than the public.”

This quote is mostly being mocked on social media, and for understandable reasons—the Eagles had the worst receivers in football last year.

With that said I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

You’d be foolish to take the comment at face value; the Eagles are out of leverage as it pertains to WR—everybody knows they’re looking to upgrade the position, and not only has it hurt them in trade talks, but it leaves them vulnerable in the draft (whether they try to trade up, or someone leaps them to get their guy). His modest comments are mostly an attempt to gain some of that leverage back, though whether or not anyone buys that company line is unlikely.

On the flip side, I truly think the organization believes Greg Ward is more than ‘just a guy’, and the team is reportedly still high on JJ Arcega-Whiteside—which isn’t crazy given he just turned 23. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that, but it’s a reasonable position to take.

It’s also an easier statement to understand when you consider the teams plan to keep Alshon Jeffery, who was previously considered a lock to be cut. Howie essentially confirmed Alshon’s return, and added:

“He knows how people are looking at him right now, he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. His number one priority is getting healthy.”

I, along with most of the fan base, am shocked that they intend to keep Alshon around. Not only has he struggled to stay healthy, but a great number of people believe the rumor that he was the anonymous source who trashed the offense and Carson Wentz last season. While he denies it, there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence suggesting it could’ve been him, and thus the perception has stuck.

Whether the team believes that he wasn’t the actual source, or they simply feel like they can move past it is moot—all signs point to Jeffery being back in midnight green next season. If he can get and stay healthy then he’ll certainly be a welcome difference-maker. He’s not what he used to be—that much is obvious—but beggars can’t be choosers, and we can do (and have done) a lot worse than a healthy Jeffery.

In addition, Howie made another revealing comment when asked where they stood in the DeAndre Hopkins trade discussions, he essentially said they “weren’t offering the same deal” that the Cardinals got.

Now that’s a paraphrase, and he didn’t go into much detail, but I have to assume that Howie would have been willing to make a deal somewhere in the ballpark of Arizona’s offer.

I have no idea why the Texans wouldn’t offer a similar deal to the Birds, but I think the more revealing part about the comment is that he was clearly willing to be aggressive to address the wide receiver position—trading a second rounder and guaranteeing over $20 million per year to a skill player is a bold move, and it’s not indicative of a team who’s comfortable with their WR room.

It can be hard to square some of Howie’s comments, but I think the most honest statement he had was when he said he didn’t anticipate the wide receiver market being as cheap as it was. With the benefit of hindsight he indicated that he would likely have taken a different approach to free agency, but that’s all in the rear view now.

After being widely anticipated to add wide receiver(s) through the open market, the Eagles didn’t spend a penny at the position, and fans and media are scrambling to understand what the strategy was, and is moving forward.

Howie shed plenty of light on his thought process, but was deliberately vague on what we should expect moving forward. Whether or not that’s by design, or reflective of the fact that the team doesn’t have a solid plan themselves is becoming harder to tell.

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