By Annie Ross
The Eagles signed free agents Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, adding a pair of veterans who still have considerable upside. The one-year, $9.5 million deal Jeffery took to rebuild his value in Philly, in particular, is a steal.
The new additions, along with fourth-round size-speed freak Mack Hollins, should provide QB Carson Wentz opportunities to create big plays downfield.
Wentz has the arm strength and instincts to chuck the ball wherever he wants, but he struggled to impress on deeper passes last season, whether because of a lack of suitable weapons or a conservative scheme that coach Doug Pederson installed for him as a rookie. Wentz’s average pass traveled just 7.3 yards in the air, which ranked 26th in the league. When Wentz did throw deep (16-plus yards in the air), he was 24th in QBR and 26th in passer rating.
To be fair, 4.3 percent of Wentz’s deep passes were dropped in 2016, the seventh-highest rate in the league. His overall drop rate of 5.1 percent ranked fifth-highest. Jeffery has played in only 21 of 32 games the past two seasons, but he has dropped just two of the 188 passes thrown in his direction by the likes of Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer in that span. At the very least, Jeffery should be a safe pair of hands for his new quarterback.