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Thursday August 11th, 2011

If healthy, Steve Smith can provide the Eagles a serious receiving threat, but that's a big if. (Tim Sharp/Reuters)

The Eagles made yet another free agent splash Wednesday, stealing wide receiver Steve Smith from the Giants with a one-year, $4 million deal that includes $2 million in guaranteed money (and turning Giants fans against Smith in the process).

But with Smith still trying to get back from a knee injury suffered last season, just how risky was the move for Philadelphia?

Well, that may all depend on how long Smith's recovery process drags out. ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweeted late Wednesday that mid-October -- right around the Eagles' Week 7 bye -- was when team doctors believed Smith could get into the lineup. A few hours later, Adam Schefter moved up that timeline, with a report that the "Eagles expect WR Steve Smith to contribute early on and not start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list."

Which diagnosis is correct could determine how successful this signing was for Philadelphia.

If Smith's healthy and ready to go within the season's first couple weeks, the Eagles have landed themselves a talented young receiver and a strong route runner. We saw Smith, when he was playing at 100 percent, reel in 107 catches for 1,220 yards in 2009.

If he can't get back on the field until Week 8 or beyond, though, then Philadelphia's really gone out on a limb. One big reason for concern is that starter Jeremy Maclin, coming off a 10-touchdown season, is currently sidelined with an undisclosed illness -- a report Thursday suggested he might not be available at the start of the season.

Say Smith's recovery slows and Maclin can't go. That would put the Eagles' two highest-paid receivers out of commission (Maclin will make just north of $2 million this season).

It would also turn the starting WR duties, opposite DeSean Jackson, over to Riley Cooper or Jason Avant. While Avant's a solid possession receiver and Cooper can be dangerous in the red zone, neither comes close to Maclin's ability level.

Long story short, despite the ruckus they've created in free agency, the Eagles have their issues, just like every other team.

The question now is if Smith will help ease those concerns or if he'll add to them. And we may not know the answer for weeks.

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