PHILADELPHIA – It was not a great class of wide receivers in NFL free agency this year.
The Philadelphia Eagles, who released Riley Cooper and have not re-signed free agent Seyi Ajirotutu, were looking to add a veteran wide receiver. They have invested draft picks at the position – first rounder Nelson Agholor last year, second-round pick Jordan Matthews and third-round pick Josh Huff in 2014 – but could use a veteran to catch passes as the young guys develop.
Cincinnati’s Marvin Jones signed a five-year, $40 million contract with Detroit last week. Miami’s Rishard Matthews went to Tennessee for $15 million over three years. Mike Wallace went from Minnesota to Baltimore for two years, $11.5 million.
The Eagles weren’t looking to spend that much. That’s why they waited until the second week of free agency to address the position. Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Givens is visiting the NovaCare Complex Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Givens, 26, also visited the New York Jets this week.
Before being traded to Baltimore last year, Givens spent three seasons with the St. Louis Rams. The 6-foot, 203-pound Givens was the Rams’ fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft. His quarterback in 2012 was Sam Bradford, now the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
Givens caught 42 passes for 698 yards, both career highs, as a rookie in 2012. With Bradford tearing his ACL in 2013, the Rams went through a revolving door at quarterback. Givens caught 34 passes for 569 yards in 2013 and 11 passes for 159 yards in 2014.
He was traded to the Ravens last season and caught 19 passes for 346 yards.
Howie Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, said last week that the team wants to let its young wide receivers grow. Matthews has had the most success, catching a total of 152 passes for 1,869 yards and 16 touchdowns in his two-year career.
But the Eagles like Matthews as a slot receiver. New coach Doug Pederson will use three-wide receiver sets, but he also likes to use tight ends in his offense. To get more playing time, Matthews could move outside, where he hasn’t gotten much experience.
Agholor had a disappointing rookie season. He caught 23 passes for 283 yards. The Eagles' offense, which was hampered by inconsistent offensive line play, was one problem. An ankle injury that cost Agholor three games and limited him in others also played a role.
Huff has started four games in two seasons. He has caught 35 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
It will be interesting to see Agholor and Huff play in Pederson’s version of the West Coast offense. But the Eagles could use a veteran presence who can be a reliable target.