With Arrelious Benn Down Too, Eagles Have Little Choice but to Keep Riley Cooper
Ten days after four-year starter Jeremy Maclin suffered a season-ending injury to his right ACL, new arrival Arrelious Benn has already gone down with a similar knee injury. His left ACL is torn, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, leaving the Eagles with only three healthy receivers with more than 30 career receptions.
One of those receivers—and the only one taller than 6'0"—is Cooper, who returned to the team Tuesday after a five-day leave of absence stemming from an incident in which he was caught making racist comments on camera.
Benn, who is still only 24, was a second-round pick in 2010. He failed to live up to expectations with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but there were high hopes for him in Philly.
Those are dashed now, leaving Cooper, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant as the only experienced wideouts in town.
Damaris Johnson and Greg Salas have a combined 46 career receptions, but there's nothing beyond that. Ifeanyi Momah went undrafted out of Boston College and could be a dark horse thanks to his freakish combination of speed (4.4 second 40-yard dash) and size (6'7").
Should the Eagles sign a free agent like Brandon Lloyd or Laurent Robinson?
It's probably safe to conclude now that Cooper would easily make the final roster based solely on his on-field ability. And as we've stated, this is a business. If the Eagles are doing what's best for the team, they absolutely have to keep Cooper assuming it becomes apparent the debacle won't be a distraction in the short- or long-term future.
There's an outside chance the Eagles look instead to replace Maclin, Benn or Cooper on the open market. General manager Howie Roseman stated after Maclin got hurt that the team would keep things in-house, but maybe this development will cause the front office to rethink that strategy.
Brandon Lloyd and Laurent Robinson are still unemployed. Lloyd, 32, went over the 900-yard mark with the New England Patriots last season, while the 28-year-old Robinson had 11 touchdowns with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. Deion Branch and Randy Moss are also hanging around, but both are well past their career sweet spots.
A signing like that could change things a little, but you'd still have to believe at this point that Cooper's career will survive that embarrassing episode. Right now, the Eagles simply can't afford to let him walk.
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