Riley Cooper's release leaves Eagles very young at receiver

PHILADELPHIA -- Riley Cooper was the last wide receiver left on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster who was on the team before Chip Kelly arrived.

DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant lasted just one season with Kelly. Jeremy Maclin spent one season rehabbing a torn ACL and one season leading the team in receiving before his departure.

Damaris Johnson, who is only 5-foot-8, didn’t even make it out of Kelly’s first training camp in 2013.

Cooper, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2010, spent three seasons as a starter for Kelly. He was released Monday as part of the new Eagles regime’s removal of as many reminders of Kelly as possible. The ironic thing is that Cooper was drafted by Howie Roseman and Andy Reid. He became a Kelly guy after the fact.

But now Cooper, who started 45 games in three seasons (including one playoff game), is gone.

Who’s left: That leaves Jordan Matthews, a second-round pick in 2014, as the Eagles’ most senior member of the wide receiving corps.

Matthews, 23, has started 22 games in his NFL career. He has caught 152 passes for 1,869 yards and 16 touchdowns. That’s a very promising start to a career, but it doesn’t leave the Eagles with much experience.

Matthews has played primarily in the slot during his two seasons. Kelly usually started three wide receivers, so there was a spot for Matthews. If new coach Doug Pederson uses two-wide receiver sets more often, as Reid did, then Matthews will either be coming off the bench or moving to one of the outside receiver spots.

Nelson Agholor, last year’s first-round pick, started 12 games as a rookie. He was on the field for 58 percent of the offensive plays in 2015. He caught 23 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown.

It was an underwhelming debut, but it must be remembered that Agholor was playing in Kelly’s offense. One of the foundations of Kelly’s scheme is that the quarterback goes through a series of reads and throws to the player who is most open. A lot of offenses work that way, but most also include plays that are designed to get a particular receiver free. This is one of the reasons why Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and Antonio Brown all get a lot of catches.

It will be fascinating to see how Agholor develops with a season under his belt and in a new offensive scheme. He’s also likely to be working with a new quarterback, as well. But Agholor has the speed and the skill set to be an effective receiver.

Josh Huff was the next wide receiver in terms of playing time in 2015: He was on the field for almost half of the offensive plays. Huff caught 27 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

Huff was also the quintessential Kelly player, an Oregon product drafted in the third round, ahead of Donte Moncrief, John Brown and Martavis Bryant. Like Agholor, Huff could well blossom in Pederson’s offense. Huff is not likely to get the benefit of any doubts this season, though.

Seyi Ajirotutu, who was signed primarily for special teams, is due to be a free agent. He caught one pass for four yards in 2015.

Jonathan Krause was the only other wide receiver on the 53-man roster (after the release of veteran Miles Austin). Krause caught two passes for 11 yards in a late-season cameo appearance.

Now what: Remarkably, a team that used three picks in the first three rounds of the 2014 and 2015 drafts on receivers goes into the offseason with a fairly significant need at the position.

It’s not that Cooper was such a great player, but he was at least a reliable player -- a known quantity. Matthews has put up good numbers over his first two seasons, but Agholor and Huff are basically projections right now. They could develop into good wide receivers -- Maclin being the best comparison the Eagles could hope for -- but they could also turn out to be more like Freddie Mitchell or Todd Pinkston.

Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery is the best wide receiver slated to be in the free-agent market. He is only 26 and should be a Pro Bowl-caliber player for the next five years. On the other hand, Jeffery will cost an awful lot more than Maclin was asking for last year when the Eagles decided he was too expensive.

There are other possibilities in free agency, but none that would make a major impact.

This year’s draft doesn’t yet appear to be as well-stocked with wide receivers as the past two drafts. Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell is one of the few likely to be taken in the first round. But the Eagles, who have the 13th pick, have enough other major needs that they might hesitate to use a second consecutive first-round pick on a wideout.

They can add depth, but the bottom line is the Eagles really need Agholor or Huff, or both, to emerge.