The Philadelphia Eagles have been working hard to retain most of their in-house talent. Already this offseason, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Vinny Curry have signed extensions to stay with the team. However, not everyone can stick around as massive contracts still loom for certain players. The Eagles got the ball rolling on creating cap space by releasing Riley Cooper.
According to Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com, the Eagles have announced they have released Cooper who was a fifth-round draft pick back in 2010. Cooper was a breakout star in 2013 which earned him a five-year, $22.5 million contract with a $4 million signing bonus. He never regained that form and this year he put up just 46 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns. Releasing him freed up plenty of cap space, but it leaves the Eagles young at the receiver position.
Releasing Cooper was not a surprise, but the team must make moves to replace him. As of right now, the Eagles will be moving forward with Jordan Matthews as their No.1 receiver. The 23 year old has just 22 starts in his NFL career. He struggled with drops in 2015. Nelson Agholor will move into the No.2 role. He was a first-round pick in 2015, but struggled with consistency in his rookie season. Outside those two players, the Eagles have Josh Huff as their next most experienced player. They need to add someone.
Free agency could be where the Eagles make a move. Players like Travis Benjamin, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Kearse and Rishard Matthews are all available. They might not be home run hits, but they have experience as reliable players. The Eagles will not be making a move for Alshon Jeffery.
With the No.13 draft pick the Eagles could grab a rookie, but they have used a lot of picks at that position over the past few years. Selecting someone like Laquon Treadwell, Braxton Miller or Josh Doctson might give the team another athletic player, but it does not help with experience. Agholor is a good example of a highly-touted rookie who took a long time to develop into an NFL talent. The Eagles would be much smarter getting someone in free agency.
Releasing Cooper might not be the only move the Eagles make in terms of roster cuts. Darren Sproles also has a question mark above his head. According to Philly.com, the Eagles would prefer to trade Sproles rather than release him. With DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews both returning, the Eagles could part ways with Sproles, but if a trade cannot be attained than he likely stays put.
All of these moves help, but the biggest one still lingers and that is the contract to Sam Bradford. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Eagles will not use their franchise tag on the quarterback and will chase other options like Nick Foles. The Philadelphia Inquirer denied this report, so it will be interesting to see which way the Eagles go on this.