February 21, 2024   5 MIN READ

Piece Out

Spare Parts Quez Watkins, Bradley Roby, Justin Evans Likely Headed For Exit


With a pair of veteran pass catchers on expiring contracts, and a host of unproven entities filling out the position, the Eagles will surely be in the market for another wide receiver in free agency.

While I fully expect them to take a piecemeal approach to restoring depth, I also see intriguing late-round options in April’s draft.

Perhaps 26-year-old receiver Britian Covey, a third-year pro who led the NFL in punt return yards in 2023, gets a legitimate opportunity to carve out a larger role.

The Eagles will also likely need to implement an extreme makeover at safety, an area that failed to meet the mark for a variety of reasons. Moreover, the way the position is currently constituted will not be sufficient for new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

As a free-agent primer, our Inside the Birds “Stay or Go” series featuring one offensive position group and one defensive position group daily continues with wide receiver and defensive backs.

On Monday, I looked at quarterbacks and defensive tackles. On Tuesday, I examined running backs and edge rushers.

Quez Watkins

GETTY IMAGES: After a disappointing fourth season, Quez Watkins’ return to the Eagles is uncertain.

WR Quez Watkins

The 2023 season once forecasted to be a redemption year for embattled Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins. Backed by head coach Nick Sirianni’s support, the fourth-year wideout managed to stave off free agent Olamide Zaccheaus in training camp and was theoretically positioned to serve as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver on a top-heavy unit.

Even corralling an occasional deep shot would have been a considerable improvement from a 2022 campaign marred by egregious miscues. Watkins instead hauled in just 15 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, his lightest output apart from his rookie season. He also came up woefully small as a manufactured-touch player.

With production and consistency lagging, the Eagles tried working Zaccheaus and veteran free-agent signing Julio Jones into the mix to remedy a glaring void. The continued downward trajectory also did little to quell the outside scrutiny confining Watkins.

Game-changing speed comes at a premium, however, and at 25 years old, Watkins will have a team willing to bring in an intriguing reclamation project. Regardless, a change of scenery – fleeing the pressure cooker – should offer Watkins a different perspective. As for the Eagles, I’d expect them to explore many options, including – but not limited to – free agency.

Verdict: Go

WR Julio Jones

An in-season addition, Jones, a future Hall of Famer in the twilight of his career, undertook a cameo-sized role behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Appearing in 11 games, Jones reeled in 11 receptions for 74 yards and three touchdowns on 19 targets. In what may well have been the final game of his career, Jones brought in all three targets for 22 yards in the Eagles’ Wild Card matchup in Tampa, with the third yielding a concussion following a thunderous hit.

The Eagles need to invest and groom home-grown talent behind Brown and Smith, so Jones likely wouldn’t have been retained anyway, but the thinking here is that he retires.

Verdict: Go

WR Olamide Zaccheaus

Zaccheaus was a player I had suggested as a logical fit for the Eagles last offseason, as his short-area quickness and run-after-the-catch ability offered a different dimension to the passing game. I even felt Zaccheaus would unseat Watkins in the receiving hierarchy. But aside from a long touchdown off a broken play on Monday Night Football and a leaping circus catch in the back of the end zone against Buffalo, Zaccheaus didn’t factor into the passing attack.

Instead, Zaccheaus – who was repeatedly adamant about not needing the ball to make a play – made his mark as a blocker, springing several splash plays throughout the season. Deployed sparingly and confined to a rudimentary offense that suppressed his strengths, Zaccheaus could easily be looking to seek employment elsewhere. But the thinking here is that Kellen Moore’s impact could be enticing for Zaccheaus, and the Eagles will likely want to retain its lone, experienced depth option. And it wouldn’t exactly break the bank.

Verdict: Stay

CB Bradley Roby

The Eagles put in a call to Roby in late September in hopes of patching together the nickel cornerback carousel. Roby, 31, acclimated quickly, typically handling early downs while rookie Eli Ricks came on in obvious passing situations. Appearing in nine game, including a pair of starts, Roby accounted for 55 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and served as a veteran mentor for the younger cornerbacks. Still, Roby was brought in to be a temporary reinforcement in a time of need and doesn’t factor into the Eagles’ future. The offseason plan should include getting younger and developing a young secondary.

Verdict: Go

Justin Evans

GETTY IMAGES: The oft-injured Justin Evans once again struggled to stay healthy in his first season with the Eagles.

S Justin Evans

A nondescript, snakebitten dart throw who clawed to the fringes of a crowded Eagles roster, Evans defied considerable odds by seizing a starting role when the Eagles opened the season in Foxborough, Mass., against New England. But the unlikely resurgence wouldn’t last long for Evans, who missed all of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons due to various injuries.

The veteran safety lasted just four games, compiling 182 snaps, before a knee injury landed him on injured reserve. Despite being designated to return late in the season, opening the 21-day window practice window, Evans was unable to make it back, ending his season. While he showed some signs of promise, Evans would be fortunate to be signed by another team – or even the Eagles counting on him in 2024.

Verdict: Go

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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