Jalen Reagor begins the most important Eagles training camp of his life in one week.
Right now, the Eagles’ wide receiver is a borderline first-round bust. He has this preseason to turn around his career, to make sure he is on the 53-man roster in September.
But unless Reagor is a major factor at camp, he likely will get cut — first-round draft status notwithstanding. Jalen Reagor cut? Yes, we think so.
The Eagles have a serious financial investment in Reagor. He signed a four-year, $13,270,677 rookie contract that includes a $7,211,401 signing bonus. The contract includes a fifth-year option for the Eagles to pick up for the 2024 season.
If the Eagles find a trading partner for Reagor, 23, the cap hit would be $1.8 million. If he’s cut, the cap hit would be $2.4 million.
Losing $2.4 million isn’t the end of the world but it would be the end of Reagor in Philly. Is the money worth it to dump an underachieving receiver? Yes, it might be.
Teams don’t want to give up on first-round picks starting their third season but the Eagles might have to make a business decision.
The receiver room is overflowing with talent, perhaps more talented receivers than Reagor and certainly without his baggage.
REAGOR NEEDS CONSISTENCY
“There’s no denying that Jalen has talent,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said at the team’s organized team activities. “He just has to continue to try to be consistent. That was our discussion …
“One of the things that we talked about was, well, ‘OK, you’re not at TCU where you get 11 balls thrown to you a game. You might get three or you might get two. Take advantage of the ones that you get and just be consistent with it.’
“And that’s what we’re working on right now.”
In the offseason, there were rumors the Eagles were shopping him. The NFL Network reported there was a deal in place to the Ravens for safety Chuck Clark.
The Eagles addressed their wide receiver shortcomings on draft night when they traded for the Titans’ A.J. Brown. The sides worked out a $100 million contract extension and there were celebrations galore. The Eagles, finally, landed their big-time wide receiver.
Do you know where there weren’t any celebrations? In Jalen Reagor’s house. Reagor’s job, already endangered, was closer to extinction. He wasn’t going to beat out Brown or DeVonta Smith for a job.
When a team invests that kind of capital — a treasured first-round pick — on a player, they want a return on that investment. For a top pick, a team will give him a long look to prove himself.
No general manager wants the baggage of a failed draft pick following him around. First-round picks are expected to be difference-makers, to be major contributors.
Reagor is neither.
REAGOR’S WORST MOMENT — POSTERIZED
No athlete wants to be remembered for their worst moment in sports.
But that’s where Reagor is.
Many remember Ben Simmons passing up a dunk in a Game 7 vs. Atlanta … Mitch Williams giving up a World Series-winning home run in 1993 to Toronto’s Joe Carter … Boston’s Bill Buckner misplaying a ground ball vs. the Mets in the 1986 World Series.
Reagor’s two seasons with the Eagles were defined by a potential game-winning pass he dropped after it hit him in the face mask against the Giants in November.
These infamous moments live with you and, probably, haunt you long after your playing days end.
The image was captured for all to see. The photo showed the ball hitting Reagor directly on the face mask and his arms whiffing at the ball.
The photo went viral and the fans went venomous.
Reagor wasn’t some guy on the beach in Sea Isle trying to catch a pass from a frat brother. He’s professional football player, a wide receiver whose main job is, duh, to catch the football.
A minute earlier, Reagor had dropped a pass down the left sideline at the 3-yard line.
To his credit, Reagor shouldered the blame after that game. “You gotta take the heat … this is for me to take ownership.”
The loss ended a two-game winning streak and was the only defeat in seven games as the Eagles saved their season and clinched a wild card spot.
TEAMMATES ARE ON HIS SIDE
Reagor’s future depends on his performance before an audience of coaches, executives and teammates who desperately want him to succeed.
Some teammates, notably Darius Slay, have stepped up and supported Reagor. Slay talked about Reagor’s work ethic, ability to learn and grow into the job.
Going into training camp, Reagor is not one of the starters — Brown, Smith and Quez Watkins are ahead of him, as is free-agent acquisition Zach Pascal. The Eagles might only keep five wide receivers, so Reagor likely is competing with these players for one roster spot: Greg Ward, Britain Covey, Devon Allen, John Hightower, Josh Hammond, Keric Wheatfall and Deon Cain.
Someone might emerge from that group and they would be more economically tolerable.
The Eagles have tried Reagor on punt returns and kickoff returns. His numbers weren’t inspiring— 7.3 yards per punt and 21.2 yards per kick return, which rank 50th and 57th in the league.
Reagor also has been haunted by the player drafted one spot after him — Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
- Jefferson had made the Pro Bowl in both of his seasons.
- Jefferson has 196 catches for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns.
- Reagor’s career stats: 64 catches for 695 yards and three measly touchdowns.
A ruthless online reference last season summed up Reagor’s struggles and Jefferson’s stardom:
- “Reagor through Week 11: 23 catches, 170 yards, two touchdowns.”
- “Jefferson *in* Week 11: 8 catches, 169 yards, two touchdowns.”
If Reagor had been a fifth-round pick, he would be gone. He’s still on the team and he still has an opportunity to turn around his career and be a productive player on a playoff team.
He’s still in the Eagles’ picture. It’s all right in front of him.