March 5, 2024   8 MIN READ

Slot Machines

Projecting 5 Free-Agent Slot WRs For Birds


The Eagles’ three slot receiver options from 2023 – Quez Watkins, Julio Jones, and Olamide Zaccheaus – are all set to hit free agency next week when the new league year begins.

After a disappointing production from the slot last season, it’s unlikely the Eagles retain all – or any – of their free -agent slot receivers and more likely they’ll address the position in free agency or via the deep class of wide receivers in the 2024 NFL draft.

With this and their cap space in mind, I’ve come up with five possible signings the Eagles should consider going into free agency.

But first, some background:

The Eagles will likely narrow their scope to free-agent receivers who have inside-outside versatility because the team has historically valued versatility and likely will be more creative under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

It’s still acceptable, and valuable, if a receiver can play in the slot and outside, but for the purpose of this story – looking at slot options – no free agent receiver who played fewer than 50% of their snaps from the slot in 2023 were considered.

In total, 26 receivers fit the bill for slot receivers on the open market.

Also, the Eagles are invested in third-year pro Britain Covey, a receiver and punt returner, and aren’t likely to replace him in the return game, which means slot receivers with punt return acumen – such as Braxton Berrios and Jamison Crowder – weren’t considered as it would be a senseless allocation of cap space to sign a receiver/returner without expecting him to return.

Slot production was also a major consideration in determining options for the Eagles.

Based mostly on statistical production and contract value, here are the five best options:

Olamide Zaccheaus

GETTY IMAGES: On limited snaps, Eagles WR Olamide Zaccheaus made the most of his opportunities from the slot.

The Familiar Face: Olamide Zaccheaus

If the Eagles intend to return any of their incumbent slot receivers, they should bring back Olamide Zaccheaus.

Here are his statistics in comparison to all Eagles slot wide receivers in 2023:

Zaccheaus led all Eagles slot receivers in yards per reception, rating when targeted, and first downs per reception. However, he had the fewest targets of the three impeding free agents and made the most of his limitred opportunities. 

In comparison to the entire unit, Zaccheaus had the highest yards per reception and first downs per reception while in the slot. 

While his sample size is very low, Zaccheaus showed he’s still the most deserving to be retained out of those three incumbents. 

Here’s how Zaccheaus ranked among the 26 NFL receivers who fit the slot criteria:

Due to his low volume of receptions, Zaccheaus’ thresholds weren’t able to be implemented. Therefore, the data might not be as relevant in terms of rankings.

Still, he ranked first in yards per reception and top-10 in touchdown catches, yards, and first downs per reception.

The Price Tag

Zaccheaus signed with the Eagles for the veteran minimum of $1.08 million. The veteran minimum for a player’s sixth season in 2024 is $1.125 million and this will likely be the price to retain Zaccheaus.

He could fetch a higher retention price, but it shouldn’t be too much more than the veteran minimum based on his production. 

Tyler Boyd

The High Volume Choice: Tyler Boyd 

Tyler Boyd is one of the best No. 3 receivers in the NFL and has been a staple of the Bengals passing attack.

But the Bengals are struggling to retain their second option – Tee Higgins was franchise tagged – while also needing to extend their primary option (Ja’Marr Chase) in the following season. 

Boyd, 30, has recorded more than 500 yards in seven of his eight seasons, along with two 1,000 yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. He’s a very capable receiver who provides depth and versatility, but he’s coming off one of his worst career seasons.

Some of his struggles can be attributed to quarterback Joe Burrow’s injuries, but it’s important to understand that Boyd might also be at a point of regression.

Still, his 501 yards from the slot would have been the most by any Eagles wide receiver in 2023 and he would add another passing threat for Moore and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. 

Here’s how Boyd stacks up to the other free agent slot receiver choices:

Higher volume probably hurts Boyd’s relative stats – such as yards per reception – especially when considering that some of the receivers in the group had very few opportunities.

But Boyd hits some major categories; he had the most targets, receptions, and yards of free agent slot receivers. He’d add another dynamic playmaker to the Eagles’ attack.  

The Price Tag

Boyd signed a four-year, $43 million ($10.75M APY) extension in 2019 after one of the best seasons of his career. He’ll likely need a contract close to that value, but might command less due to statistical regression and age.

Adam Thielen’s one-year, $10 million contract with the Panthers last season is likely instructive on Boyd’s contract. Thielen predominantly played the slot and had similar statistics (slightly better than Boyd) in his contract year, his final year with the Vikings.

It should be expected that Boyd would command around $8.5 million to $11 million per year on the open market. 

Curtis Samuel

GETTY IMAGES: Curtis Samuel has been a multidimensional weapon for the Commanders.

The Fun Choice: Curtis Samuel

Curtis Samuel is probably the most dynamic slot receiver on the market. The former Commander is a versatile player and the Eagles generally value versatility.

However, Samuel’s versatility likely comes at a cost. He has flashed throughout his career, but has not been able to consistently maintain success. 

Here’s how Samuel performed from the slot in 2023 compared to the others:

Samuel recorded the second-most targets and receptions and most touchdowns among eligible slot receiver free agents. 

Again, he flashes but remains inconsistent. Like Boyd, Samuel is unfairly punished in some category rankings for his high volume. 

The Price Tag:

Samuel signed a three-year, $34.5 ($11.5M APY) million deal with Washington in 2021. He was coming off the best season of his career in 2020, with the Panthers, which is important to consider. 

However, the salary cap and wide receiver compensation have only increased since 2021.

Also, Samuel is younger (27) than Boyd (30), so the Thielen comp probably wouldn’t be as fitting.

Two other, more realistic comps are Michael Gallup (Dallas) and Jakobi Meyers (Las Vegas), both of whom predominantly played the slot and were similarly aged to Samuel in their latest extensions.

Meyers logged the most yards and touchdowns among all slot receivers on the most targets and receptions, but Gallup was the most efficient and picked up the most first downs per reception.

Samuel projects somewhere between both, being more efficient in yards after catch.

Meyers signed a three-year, $33 million deal ($11M APY) and Gallup’s extension was a five-year, $57.5 million ($11.5M APY)) deal.

It makes sense that Samuel would slot somewhere between these values. The most realistic outcome for Samuel is between $10.5 million-$12 million per year. 

Lil'Jordan Humphrey

GETTY IMAGES: Broncos WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, at 6-5, is anything but a small slot receiver.

The Intriguing Choice: Lil’Jordan Humphrey

Broncos slot receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey is one of the most intriguing free agents who should also be relatively cheap, perhaps only costing the veteran minimum.

For starters, despite his name, he’s anything but little at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He also played approximately 64% in the slot last season and caught a high-effort 54-yard touchdown against the Chargers in Week 17. 

Here’s how Humphrey compared statistically last season:

Humphrey’s best statistics are inflated by big plays he made on little volume. However, it’s still impressive that he’s fourth in yards, first in yards per reception, fourth in touchdowns, second in yards after catch per reception, third in QBR when targeted, and eighth in first downs per reception.

The Price Tag:

Humphrey will likely be available for the veteran minimum for a sixth year player of $1.125 million. 

Jaylen Guyton

GETTY IMAGES: Chargers WR Jaylen Guyton played last season under new Eagles OC Kelllen Moore.

The Moore Connection: Jalen Guyton

Guyton would likely only be a depth option. He made significant contributions for the Chargers in 2020 and 2021 but has done very little since while also battling significant injuries. 

However, Guyton played under Moore last season and could be a cheap depth piece for the Eagles, depending on his relationship with Moore.

Here is how Guyton’s statistics from the slot were last season:

The Price Tag:

Guyton would likely cost the veteran minimum of $1.125 million for a sixth year receiver.

– Sam Finkel is a staff writer for who focuses on analytics.

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