I understand that it's not my money and that a hard salary cap exists in the National Football League, so Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has every right to claim, via CSN Philly's Reuben Frank, that bringing back both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper is "complicated."
But if the Eagles have their priorities straight, they'll find a way to make it happen.
Both wide receivers are slated to become unrestricted free agents next month, but Maclin should be cheap and won't demand a long-term deal coming off a lost season due to ACL surgery and Cooper is a very important piece to the puzzle who won't be out of the team's price range.
In the NFL in this day and age, you need as many offensive weapons as possible, especially when you've got a young quarterback like Nick Foles. Chip Kelly certainly understands that, which is why the Eagles have to re-sign both Maclin and Cooper in order to fully shore up the wide receiver position.
|Age||Last full season|
|Riley Cooper||26||47 REC, 835 YDS, 8 TD|
|Jeremy Maclin||25||69 REC, 857 YDS, 7 TD|
Pro Football Reference
Roseman hinted that they could turn to the draft, but that's too hit-or-miss when we're talking about a top-four receiver, which is what the Eagles would need if they were to keep only one of their two impending free-agent wide receivers.
I realize that the Eagles fared just fine without Maclin last year. Jason Avant is a good depth receiver who is reliable in even a season-long pinch. However, this team should no longer be looking to fare "just fine." With a target on their back in 2014, they'll be required to get better in order to get back to the playoffs and make a run.
Maclin makes them better. Much better, right away, and at a decent price.
If the Eagles have to decide between Maclin and Cooper, who should they re-sign?
It's not as though they're pushing against the salary cap. According to the guys at EaglesCap.com, they have $20.5 million in space right now, but the only other starter slated to become a free agent is the very important Cedric Thornton.
Maclin and Cooper would both presumably demand top-end No. 2 receiver money. By current standards that would mean about $5-7 million per year, which is the range Miles Austin, Josh Morgan, Nate Burleson, Wes Welker and Brian Hartline are in. If they even remotely front-load Cooper's deal, which would presumably have a longer term, they can probably spend less than $10 million on both in 2014.
The Eagles could easily afford to sign both receivers, plus Thornton, with money left over to fill out the roster. It'd be tight by the time we reached the fall, but that's how it goes if you're in it to win it.