As draft weekend nears, the rumor mill and the reports of "players available in a trade" are increasing at a frenetic rate. And, yes, the wide receiver position is one that is front and center in the headlines these days and is certainly worth discussing here.
What do the Eagles think about their receivers? Well, they have clearly been on the record talking about the group and they have aggressively upgraded the positions in the last couple of off-seasons. Two springs ago the Eagles signed Kevin Curtis as an unrestricted free agent. Last April the Eagles used a second-round draft pick on DeSean Jackson.
And since then, head coach Andy Reid has been vocal in his praise about the team's corps of wide receivers.
Now? Well, Cleveland is very publicly dangling Braylon Edwards on the trade market. Arizona came out on Wednesday and said that they would "listen" to offers for wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
And names like Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt and Chad Johnson (OK, Chad Ochocinco) continue to be debated. Wide receiver is suddenly a buyer's market, with a glut of veteran "names" on the market, some real talents said to be on the trading block and a good-but-not-great group waiting to be drafted.
Unusual, really, the way many out there see it. If these receivers are true top talents – and the numbers say they are in many cases – why are they available? If the "No. 1" wide receiver is so valuable, why are they being traded and cut and so available?
Makes me think about a lot of things here …
So what will the Eagles do? I don't know the answer to that, as a lot of things are cooking behind the scenes at this time of the year. But I know there are many different ways to look at this roster picture.
The Eagles genuinely like their wide receivers. They think Curtis will bounce back big time after a sports hernia injury limited him last season. They think Jackson has big, big-time talent and that he is ready to take another step forward after a strong rookie campaign. They think Jason Avant is a prototype slot receiver who dominates the middle of the field on third down.
They think Reggie Brown is a talent who is going to have another chance to produce in 2009. And they like Hank Baskett enough to have tendered him at a second-round contract level, so they clearly want Baskett to be part of the plan this year.
At the same time, the Eagles have always said they are interested in upgrading any spot on the team – wide receiver included, obviously – if they feel they can acquire a difference-making player. The question is, then, are the players ""available"" those kinds of players? It is a question Reid and Co. will have to answer, one way or another.
Another question to consider is the wide receiver position itself. If you prioritize needs here, on this current roster, where does wide receiver fall in the pecking order? Furthermore, what does a true "No. 1" wide receiver really guarantee a team?
The last true "No. 1" wide receiver to win a Super Bowl was probably Marvin Harrison (and Reggie Wayne) of the Colts in the 2006 season. Otherwise, the starting wide receivers on Super Bowl teams have been good, but not superstar-laden. The Steelers won last year with Hines Ward (81 catches, 1,043 yards) and Santonio Holmes (55-821). The Giants won the year before with Plaxico Burress (70-1,025, 12 touchdowns) and Amani Toomer (59-760). In 2005, Ward caught 69 passes for 975 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead the Steelers.
And we've gone through the whole New England Super Bowl thing with a bunch of OK receivers. Tampa Bay won in 2002 with Keyshawn Johnson catching 76 passes and Baltimore rode a great defense to off-set a ball-control offense to win the Super Bowl in 2000.
This is a fascinating time for the Eagles. They hold so many pieces in the draft puzzle, and the sense now is that the team is weighing all of its options – and there have to be many with teams reportedly interested in making deals – to determine what is best for this team.
There are certainly needs on this team, mostly, as seen here, on the offensive side of the football. The Eagles believe they are in the right position, heading into a draft without gaping holes, capable of competing for a Super Bowl right now with the present roster intact.
At the same time, they are looking for clear, compelling upgrades at every position. And there are some players who are, reportedly, on the market at wide receiver. Choices, choices. The Eagles are playing their strong hand behind the scenes, and we all wonder what moves they will make between now and the end of the draft weekend.