Philadelphia Eagles News

Free Agency Preview: WR & TE

Sticking with the offense after previewing the impeding free agents at quarterback, running back and fullback, we move on to the wide receivers and tight ends. The Eagles' biggest question mark regarding a potential free-agent receiver was answered in some form when the team designatedDeSean Jackson as their franchise player. But is there room to add more toys to Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg's offensive cupboard?

On The Roster:
WR -  1. DeSean Jackson  2. Jeremy Maclin  3. Jason Avant  4. Riley Cooper  5. Chad Hall  6. Ronald Johnson  7. Jamel Hamler 8. Mardy Gilyard
TE -  1. Brent Celek  2. Clay Harbor  3. Brett Brackett

2011 Eagle(s) Hitting The Market: The lone free-agent-to-be among the Eagles' wide receivers and tight ends from the 2011 season is Steve Smith, who was signed a free agent last summer. Smith played in nine games for the Eagles, catching 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. He missed the final three games of the regular season after being placed on injured reserve with a bone bruise in December.

Adam Caplan's Free Agent Rankings:
WR: 1. Wes Welker (Franchised)
2. Vincent Jackson
3. DeSean Jackson (Franchised)
4. Marques Colston
5. Dwayne Bowe (Franchised)
6. Reggie Wayne
7. Steve Johnson (Franchised)
8. Mike Wallace (RFA)
9. Brandon Lloyd
10. Pierre Garcon
11. Danny Amendola (RFA)
12. Terrell Owens
13. Braylon Edwards
14. Eddie Royal
15. Robert Meachem

TE: 1. Fred Davis (Franchised)
2. John Carlson
3. Visanthe Sciancoe
4. Jeremy Shockey
5. Jacob Tamme
6. Joel Dreessen
7. Daniel Fells
8. Bo Scaife
9. Martellus Bennett
10. Kellen Davis

Where's The Fit?: *With Jackson set to return and *Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper already in the stable of wide receivers, it would appear that there isn't much need for a big upgrade at wide receiver. The consensus area in which the Eagles offense can improve in the passing game, aside from turnovers, is inside the 20-yard-line, where the team has ranked 14th in red-zone efficiency in consecutive seasons. The most mentioned impending free agent who could help in that regard is Plaxico Burress, who has already made his affinity for the Eagles known. Of course, for an offense that prides itself on explosive plays, more playmakers will never hurt.

At tight end, Brent Celek is entrenched as one of the more reliable players in the league at his position. He re-emerged as a dangerous threat in the passing game during the second half of the 2011 season, when he doubled his production from the first half of the season. In all, he finished with 62 catches for for 811 yards and five touchdowns on the year. However, in a league where athletic tight ends have become one of the primary weapons because of the mismatches they create, there is still room for improvement from the position. Clay Harbor has improved immensely as a blocker, but he did only catch 13 passes for 165 in his second season with the Eagles. Harbor, a fourth-round pick in 2010, is a player for whom the Eagles expect improvement, but competition for the second tight end is something the Eagles can be expected to pursue, in some form or another, this offseason.

Intriguing Names: Aside from Burress, it would be a bit of a surprise to see the Eagles go after any of the "bigger name" free agent wide receivers. Could someone like Reggie Wayne make a positive impact with the Eagles? Sure, but he would likely mean more to a suitor without as much talent at the position. Of the supposed second-tier receivers, Robert Meachem is a proven big-play receiver with the kind of speed that would open up the field well, but he too could be targeted by a team destitute on the outside. One player who could prove to be an ideal fit, considering the Eagles' hope to improve the return game, is Ted Ginn Jr., who has excelled in that role for both the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers (just ask the 49ers how much they would have liked Ginn to be on the field during their NFC Championship Game loss). Eric Weems, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, is another player with proven return ability.

Meanwhile, the tight end class doesn't offer much in the way of gamebreaking offense. Martellus Bennett is immensely talented physically but was a consistent underperformer with the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps a change of scenery, and the opportunity to take on the Cowboys twice a year, would be ideal. Jacob Tamme has also shown that he can contribute in the passing game, but he will also likely have opportunities for a larger role elsewhere.

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