The numbers were just fine and, in fact, more than fine for Olamide Zaccheaus in 2022 playing for the Atlanta Falcons – a career-best 40 receptions (on only 61 targets) for 533 yards and three touchdowns. The value of Zaccheaus, however, exceeded the raw numbers.
His ability to play multiple wide receiver positions, his dependability, his blocking skills, and the overall attitude he brought to the Falcons were highly praised by the coaching staff and quarterback Marcus Mariota, who teamed with Zaccheaus to create a special connection. Deep into the 2022 campaign, late November to be exact while Mariota was still Atlanta's starting quarterback, Zaccheaus ranked 10th in the NFL in yards per catch (14.96), 13th in reception percentage, catching the ball on 80.6 percent of his targets, and 20th in yards per target (12.1).
Those numbers fell off when rookie Desmond Ridder started the final four games of the season – Zaccheaus had only eight receptions in those weeks – but the overriding imprint was already made: In his fourth NFL season, Zaccheaus was firmly on the rise.
That's what makes him so attractive to the Eagles, who on Thursday announced that Zaccheaus agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2023 season.
Zaccheaus will come right in and add to a very strong wide receiver corps. He has the skill set to contribute from the slot with his quickness and speed and short-area route-running skills. Zaccheaus isn't the biggest target at 5-feet-8, but he's a sturdy and strong 193-pounder who uses his strength and burst well – Zaccheaus averaged 4.8 yards after the catch last season, 20th-best in the league.
He has versatility as a route runner, can separate in the short and intermediate area, and the Eagles can also leverage his speed to challenge defensive coverage on vertical routes. Another positive for a player who has lined up outside and who has been most productive inside: Zaccheaus made good on 93 percent of "catchable" balls and has displayed consistent hands in his four NFL seasons.
For Zaccheaus, this is a special signing. He grew up in Magnolia, New Jersey – about a 20-minute drive from Lincoln Financial Field. Zaccheaus starred as a defensive back and running back at St. Joseph's Preparatory High School in Philadelphia before playing collegiately at the University of Virginia.
So, Zaccheaus is coming home and he's doing so with his best NFL football in front of him. His numbers have improved every season since signing with the Falcons after the 2019 NFL Draft – from three receptions as a rookie to 20 in 2020 to 31 in his third season to a breakout performance in 2022.
The Eagles lost Zach Pascal in free agency (Arizona) and now add Zaccheaus to a talented mix that includes stars A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith as the starters, Quez Watkins as a big-play threat with outstanding vertical speed, second-year man and punt returner Britain Covey, veteran Greg Ward, a bigger receiver (6-2, 205) in Tyrie Cleveland, and Devon Allen, who returns for a second season after spending 2022 on the practice squad.