Through training camp and the early portion of preseason, there’s been much ado about the Eagles seemingly refreshed group at wide receiver. With Heisman winner DeVonta Smith now in the fold, Quez Watkins seemingly the breakout star of training camp, and Jalen Reagor growing more comfortable by the day, there’s ample reason to be excited for this group heading into the upcoming season.
However, one name that has incidentally fallen through the cracks at receiver is Travis Fulgham, the third-year wideout who at times appeared to be the future of the position last season. Across a five game stretch from week 4 through 8, Fulgham’s 29 catches for 435 yards and 4 TD’s was a momentary bright spot for an otherwise abysmal wide receiver room. Despite that level of output, reported “bad practice habits” pushed him out of favor with the coaching staff, causing his production to taper off as the year wore on.
With a new season upon us, the prevailing hope for Fulgham is that he would build off that hot stretch of play and turn in a more consistent campaign in what’s likely a make-or-break year for him. So far, he’s failed to make a strong impression through training camp and the first preseason game.
A lackluster showing at this juncture of the season certainly doesn’t mean that the goose is cooked for Fulgham—we know that he’ll make the roster—but it’s a disappointing development from an otherwise positive camp for the receiver position. Given the concerns over Fulgham’s practice habits/work ethic, you could argue that he has more to prove in this preseason than anyone in the group, and thus far he hasn’t delivered.
The good news for the Eagles offensive coaching staff is that they suddenly have alternatives at the position that they didn’t have the luxury of last season. Assuming each is healthy, the aforementioned Smith, Reagor, and Watkins figure in as the team’s top three receivers. Though such a development lowers the stakes on Fulgham stepping up and winning a starting job like many had hoped, it certainly doesn’t mean we should give up on him as an investment.
Having a fourth wideout like Fulgham as an option to call upon gives the Eagles offense a true complement of skillsets at the position. With Smith, Reagor, and Watkins all possessing varying mixes of speed, burst, and agility; Fulgham would give the passing game a dynamic of size, physicality, and contested-catch ability that’s currently lacking.
Though DeVonta Smith figures to be capable releasing off the LOS as the Eagles starting “X” receiver, there isn’t a capable option to fill that role behind him. Adding a reliable Fulgham to the mix—someone who has proven capable of releasing and winning along the boundary—not only provides insurance behind Smith, but it allows the Eagles flexibility to move him (and everyone else) around the formation how they see fit (a luxury Sirianni doesn’t have without Fulgham in the fold).