Zach Pascal and Eagles agree to a one-year contract

The Philadelphia Eagles did exactly what we all expected them to do, signing free agent wide receiver Zach Pascal to a one-year deal Monday afternoon, according to an official team announcement.

Bleeding Green Nation wrote about this for the first time possibility inevitability finally almost two weeks ago (and then again earlier today† Here’s what we had to say then:

Nick Sirianni REAL loves Pascal.

Check out this quote from when Sirianni was the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator in 2019:

“Zach Pascal has a block on a linebacker in that game, which is unbelievable,” Sirianni said of an important run in the win over the Titans. “I told Zach today, hopefully he knows it’s the biggest compliment I can give him. I said, ‘I hope Jacob Sirianni, my son, plays football like you do.’ And I made it very clear to the offensive line that my son is not going to be built like them. So I told Zach first and Zach was incredible in that piece.”

Not convinced? Check out these connections outlined by my BGN Radio co-host, Jimmy Kempski:

At his first-ever press conference after becoming head coach of the Eagles, Sirianni named Pascal among 13 players with whom he felt he had built special relationships from his previous coaching stops. […] Before the Eagles’ final preseason game, Sirianni said he showed the team videos of players entering the final preseason game on the roster bubble and had their ticket more or less stamped on the final 53-man roster. Pascal was one of the players Sirianni showed the team. And finally, Pascal was an integral part of Sirianni’s “dawg mentality“theme the Eagles have adopted in Sirianni’s rookie head coaching season, as documented in a great story by Zach Berman of The Athletic.”

Sirianni was Pascal’s offensive coordinator for three seasons. In addition, Kevin Patullo, the Eagles passing game coordinator, was Pascal’s position coach in Indy for two years. It’s easy to imagine the coaching staff pining for Howie Roseman to sign him.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they get their way. But it may be that Pascal fits exactly what the Eagles are looking for in free agency. And that’s not what most fans would probably like to see: a high-volume, top-end kind of pass-catcher.

The problem with that thinking is that the Eagles may not be inclined to break the bank for an experienced receiver. For starters, consider that they pitched the ball less often (in terms of passing-play percentage) than any other team last year. If DeVonta Smith already fails to get the regular looks he deserves, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles putting huge resources into it already. another volume target. The Eagles also praised Quez Watkins, indicating they don’t consider themselves barren outside of Smith.

No one denies that the Eagles need to add more talent to the receiver and adding Pascal would hardly be a sexy signing. He averages just 472 yards per season. But the 27-year-old would fit their budget and could very well qualify as an underrated player. Pascal’s numbers continued to climb until Carson Wentz arrived in Indy last year. Wentz doesn’t exactly have an extensive history of getting the best out of his receivers, as he does with, say, tight ends.

The thinking here is that Pascal would be a souped-up version of JJ Arcega-Whiteside. That is, a very good run-blocking receiver that can contribute more than JJAW in the passing game as a legitimate additional option alongside Smith and Watkins. [Plus, he could help on special teams.]

It should be noted that Pascal was hardly the Eagles’ first option. They reportedly chased the likes of Christian Kirk, Allen Robinson, and Calvin Ridley before they got to this point. But with wide receivers barely lining up to play with Jalen Hurts, the Birds had to resort to a fallback option.

The Eagles that Pascal signs won’t stop them from adding more receiver talent, be it through trade or the 2022 NFL Draft. For now though, the newest addition projects as a top three receiver on the team. The Eagles can/shall rotate their pass catchers, but Pascal mostly fits in the slot with Smith and Watkins on the outside. Jalen Reagor has been relegated to fourth receiver (at best) with Greg Ward rounding out the group.

Speaking of Reagor, Pascal is sharing an unfortunate business with the Eagles’ first round for 2020. Out of 94 eligible receivers (minimum 20% targets), they were the bottom two receivers in Pro Football Focus’s “yards per route run” metric last season. Not good!

Pascal’s position in that category in previous seasons:

2020 — 79th out of 101 recipients
2019 — 60th out of 102 recipients
2018 — 102nd of 109 recipients

Pascal was judged more favorably by the DYAR stat of Football Outsiders outside last year, when he was ranked 87th out of 91 qualifying players.

2020 — 37th out of 87 recipients
2019 — 33rd out of 80 recipients
2018 — 65th of 79 recipients

Bottom line: This is hardly an exciting addition. The Eagles need even more talent at the wide receiver. But the Eagles had to do it something at this position and, well, they did, so there’s that. Pascal could be a good role player for this team.

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