NELSON Agholor starting at WR on the outside is almost a given at this point. Many fans are split over whether or not Jordan Matthews should play the other outside spot, or remain in the slot. (Personally I like the idea of him on the outside, as I said in this past article. ) Other options that fans are discussing for the outside, are Miles Austin or Josh Huff due to their speed and ability to potentially stretch defenses.
What I find curious is the way fans seem to have just written off Riley Cooper. We all know that the contract extension he got last year, makes it stupid to cut him right now due to dead money (see the contract) . That all-but guarantees him a roster spot in Philly this year, unless some team is willing to trade us for him. Whether people like it or not, Cooper got that extension because the coach sees something that he likes in him. But what could that be? Let’s take a look.
Cooper has a few things in his favor actually. Standing 6’4 and 230 pounds, he is the most physically imposing WR on the roster right now. His run blocking is generally well regarded. Since being called upon as a starter two years ago, he has never missed a game. His first fumble as an NFL player came last year, during his fifth season. He’s used to catching wounded ducks from Tim Tebow. If DeSean Jackson can keep drawing double-coverage, Cooper could have another year like…Oh wait. Never mind.
To be honest even Cooper’s best year wasn’t that big of a deal considering the circumstances surrounding how it happened. Under those circumstances another WR would have made more of Jackson drawing so much attention. In fact, Jeremy Maclin frequently did just that. The boiled down truth is that the Eagles should have let Cooper walk last year, but instead they shot themselves in the foot, and gave themselves little flexibility with him.
Today it would be an extra two million and change to free up a roster spot by cutting Cooper. However, it could be looked at as an investment! Look, given the commitments to players like Agholor and Matthews, the blatant favoritism of Huff, the upside of rookie Devante Davis, and the speed and kick return experience of Quron Pratt, eating three million or so (only for this year), by cutting Cooper and Miles Austin now, frees up practice reps and time to develop all of these young receivers. It allows us to potentially field a stable of young studs.
People aren’t discussing Cooper because they have too many other reasons not to. We know what he is, and more importantly, after five years, we know what he isn’t. The smart play for the long-term, is to line Cooper up wide. I mean wide like way wide. Not just along the hash marks, the numbers, or even the sideline, wide. More like the parking lot, wide. Like playing bocce ball at 10th and Carpenter, wide. Or waiting for a cab at Chelten and Germantown, wide.
The wider out we can get Cooper (and Austin) the better for this team it’ll be in the long run.