Never in a million years would I expect so many Philadelphia Eagles fans to be fine with the idea of signing Dez Bryant. But I understand what many of them are thinking.
In 2017, it looked like the Eagles had finally removed themselves from the days of wide receiver woes with a trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith, plus up-and-coming rookies in Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson.
Fast forward to 2018. Jeffery is still recovering from shoulder surgery, Smith is traded, and Hollins is on injured reserve. They signed Mike Wallace, only for him to break his leg on his first catch as an Eagle. Kamar Aiken is just meh. DeAndre Carter had one catch before being released Tuesday, and Gibson has none.
Against the Buccaneers, it seemed like the only wide receiver out there for the Eagles was Agholor. The offense was far from anemic, but it wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard. On Monday, Doug Pederson confirmed that the team is looking to add a veteran wide receiver to the mix, at least as a short-term solution.
A lot of fans threw around the idea of trading for Josh Gordon, who, while having plenty of potential, is still generally unreliable and more likely to miss games than play in them. It’s hard to pass up talent like that, but the Browns were fed up with him for a reason.
I’ve even seen a couple fans throw around Corey Coleman’s name. Despite being a first round pick in 2016, Coleman has only accumulated 718 yards and five touchdowns in 19 games over two seasons. Injury problems have been an issue, and he was just cut by yet another team (ironically, the Patriots, who were making room for Gordon). If he’s not worth it to the Bills or Browns, I’m not sure why the Eagles would be interested in him either.
That brings us to one of the most polarizing players to play in the NFC East in the last decade. Let’s give Bryant some credit where it’s due, though. From 2011 to 2014, he obliterated defenses, capping off the four-year stretch with 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014.
Now it’s time to be realistic. His production fell off a cliff since then, and while he played a full season last year, he’s had a couple injury issues in recent years. In 2017, he 838 yards and six touchdowns, which, while still productive, was not worth the All-Pro-level money he was making.
It’s unfortunate that we even have to have this conversation. Whenever a notable player is released by a team, fans love to say the Eagles should sign him, sometimes as a joke and sometimes in all seriousness. Many people seem to seriously think Bryant would be a good option for the Eagles in 2018.
One of the biggest things Bryant was criticized for in Dallas was his bad attitude and tendency to create problems among his teammates. The Eagles won the Super Bowl because of their keen ability to form a group of players who fit well together and didn’t create problems off the field. Bringing in Bryant could easily disturb the equilibrium that they’ve spent so much time crafting.
I can’t imagine him being happy with being the third or fourth target in this offense, which is the likely scenario once Jeffery returns. That’s a mess waiting to happen.
Plus, based on what Bryant is asking for money-wise, it’s not even feasible for Philly to sign him. Sure, it’s possible he’s decreased his asking price, and he might be more willing to do so for a playoff contender and division opponent of the Cowboys, but the Eagles only have about $5.5 million in cap space at the moment, according to overthecap.com. For what it’s worth, Bryant reportedly turned down an offer from the Ravens valued at around $7 million per year back in April.
Eagles need to keep some cap space in case they need to sign someone else down the line because of additional injuries. Also, they need space for any players who have incentives that are categorized as “not likely to be earned,” because if the players do reach these incentives, the boost in salary counts against the cap immediately.
I know signing Bryant is the big-name splash that fans want, but it’s not the smart move. I trust that Howie Roseman will be able to find a better option.