<
>

Alshon Jeffery joining Eagles may have biggest impact on NFC East

It's unanimous among our reporters that Alshon Jeffery should make Carson Wentz and the Eagles better. Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

Which free agent signing will have the biggest impact in the division? ESPN's NFC East reporters make their picks:

Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys reporter: I’m going with Alshon Jeffery. If he can stay healthy and on the field, I think the Eagles have found Carson Wentz a bona fide No. 1 receiver to make his life a lot easier. I’ve spent the last 10 years covering Tony Romo and he always had a top receiver -- Terrell Owens, Miles Austin (at least for a short run), Dez Bryant -- to help his development and ascension up the quarterback ranks. Jeffery is a matchup nightmare for most cornerbacks. He runs well. He makes big plays. He is what Wentz lacked in many ways last season.

John Keim, Washington Redskins reporter: Philadelphia’s signing of receiver Alshon Jeffery. The NFC East has been more about player losses than signings, which is why the pickings aren’t deep for this category. Terrelle Pryor can help Washington, but he’s helping to replace something lost. Brandon Marshall gives Eli Manning another target in New York. But Jeffery will give second-year quarterback Carson Wentz what he lacked as a rookie: a big-time target. Signing speedy receiver Torrey Smith alongside should help both, too. The question with Jeffery will surround his availability, thanks to injuries two years ago and a suspension in 2016. But he’s a big target for a big quarterback. Jeffery has some flaws as a receiver, but he knows how to use his body well, allowing quarterbacks to take chances with him. Last season, his catch percentage was 56.5 – or 119th in the league (and two spots below Pryor). But his big-play ability can help Wentz and, therefore, the Eagles.

Tim McManus, Philadelphia Eagles reporter: The Eagles picked up the top receiver on the market by inking Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $14 million. Suddenly, Carson Wentz goes from having arguably the worst outside receivers in the NFL to being armed with a legitimate No. 1 in Jeffery on one side and a deep threat in Torrey Smith (he signed a 3-year, $15 million deal) on the other. While the Giants' (Brandon Marshall) and the Redskins’ (Terrelle Pryor) receiver acquisitions are significant, no move changes the dynamics on offense quite like the one for Jeffery. He will provide a reliable target for Wentz, shielding off defenders and flying high for catches in the red zone, and will help create spacing for receiver Jordan Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz on the inside.

Jordan Raanan, New York Giants reporter: It has to be Alshon Jeffery with the Eagles. Did you see their wide receivers last season? If Jeffery is on the field (injuries are always the question with him) he’s such a substantial upgrade from what they had last year, when Jordan Matthews was their No. 1 receiver. Jeffery gives quarterback Carson Wentz a weapon on the outside that he didn’t have during his rookie year. He can go up and get the ball and make tough catches in tight spaces. Was Nelson Agholor going to do that for him last year? Dorial Green-Beckham? Please. Jeffery is also playing on a one-year deal worth less ($9.5 million guaranteed) than he expected on the open market. So he should have extra motivation for a big season; otherwise he will never get paid. I like his chances working with a young, ascending quarterback who will welcome a legitimate pass-catching option.