Top 10 Receivers in Philadelphia Eagles History
Who Are the Greatest Eagles Receivers of All Time?
Since their inception in 1933, the Eagles have had many of the greatest receivers to ever play football. Of the 11 Hall of Famers who spent considerable time in Philadelphia, two were wide receivers. The Eagles have also had some great tight ends and running backs. With such an incredible history of strong receivers, it's hard to determine which were the best in the team's history, but there are many factors that can help answer that question. This article will cover the top 10 receivers in Eagles history by looking at career statistics, franchise records, significant moments and games, impact on the franchise's history or future and overall success.
Good receivers are a necessity in the NFL. Since the league's inception, the game has progressed to a pass-first offense. Without the help of great receivers, teams wouldn't be able to stretch the field or create big plays through the passing game. As a lifelong football fan, and after years of following the Eagles since the days of coach Andy Reid, I hope this list honors the greatest Eagles receivers in history.
10. Fred Barnett (1990–95)
Fred Barnett was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He spent the next six seasons with the team, earning a reputation for his acrobatic catches and big-play ability. In his rookie season, he scored eight touchdowns on only 36 receptions, one of which was a 95-yard touchdown—one of the longest in Eagles history.
In his second season in Philadelphia, Barnett began to show his ability despite the lack of QB Randall Cunningham. In his third season, with the return of Cunningham, Barnett earned a Pro Bowl selection with 1,083 yards and six touchdowns. The following season he injured his knee and missed the majority of the year, but he rebounded with the best season of his career in 1994 with 1,127 yards and five touchdowns. Despite earning the Comeback Player of the Year Award, he was snubbed for his second Pro Bowl selection. Barnett was one of the most electrifying receivers in Eagles history and was a threat to score on any given play.
Barnett's Greatest Moment
In 1990, Barnett's rookie season, the Eagles faced off against the Bills. QB Cunningham hiked the ball from the five-yard line, stepping back into the end zone. Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith was bearing down on Cunningham for a potential safety, but Cunningham made an incredible ducking move to avoid the defenders and get away. Cunningham launched the ball all the way to the opponent's 40-yard line where Barnett and a Bills defender awaited a jump ball. Barnett jumped into the air and snagged the ball, turning and running away from two Bills defenders for a total gain of 95 yards. The play was listed 72nd overall in the NFL's Top 100 Plays of All Time.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey number: 86
- Career games: 81
- Receptions: 308
- Receiving yards: 4,634
- Receiving touchdowns: 28
- Accolades: 1992 Pro Bowl selection
Barnett has two daughters who were awarded athletic scholarships at the University of Virginia. Myla was there for lacrosse and Hailey was there for crew.
9. Brian Westbrook (2002–09)
Brian Westbrook is one of the greatest receivers in Eagles history that never played at the wide receiver position. Despite being a running back, Westbrook still managed to end his career as the fourth overall leader in receptions for the franchise. He was selected in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and became one of the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL by his second season. He was able to amass 426 receptions for 3,790 yards and 29 receiving touchdowns in only eight seasons.
In 2004, Westbrook led all running backs with 73 receptions for 703 yards, catching 83.9% of all passes thrown his way. He helped the Eagles make it to their first Super Bowl appearance in 24 years, where he caught seven passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
In 2007, Westbrook had the greatest statistical year of his career. He caught 90 of his 118 targets for 771 yards and five touchdowns. These amazing receiving numbers, along with his great rushing ability and returning ability, helped him lead all NFL players in yards from scrimmage for the season. He's easily the greatest scoring threat in Eagles history, and a top receiving option regardless of his position.
Westbrook's Greatest Moment
He is most well known for a punt return that beat the Giants in 2003, but I believe his best play as a receiver came in the 2008 season. The Eagles were facing the Vikings in the NFC wild-card game. Philadelphia led 16–14 in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were on their own 29-yard line and Westbrook caught a screen pass out of the backfield. With blockers in front, he weaved his way through defenders, breaking away from an ankle tackle and turning on the jets to escape for a 71-yard touchdown. The score ultimately sealed the game and the Eagles went on to win 26–14.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 36
- Career games: 107
- Receptions: 426
- Receiving yards: 3,790
- Receiving touchdowns: 29
- Accolades: 2x Pro Bowl selection (2004, 2007), 2007 All-Pro selection, Eagles Hall of Fame selection
Westbrook holds the NCAA career all-purpose yards record with 9,512.
8. DeSean Jackson (2008–13, 2019–Present)
DeSean Jackson is one of the fastest wide receivers in Eagles history, clocking in a 4.35-second 40-yard dash. His time with the team in the early 2010s was one of the most exciting times for offense lovers in Eagles history. Not only was Jackson able to blow past defenses and score at will from anywhere on the field, but he was a great return man for the team as well. In fact, he was the first player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl twice in a single season for two different positions: as a wide receiver and as a return man.
In Philadelphia, Jackson became a household name and a fan favorite. He was even given a shout-out in the movie Silver Linings Playbook—a film that takes place in Philadelphia—when a side character notes that "DeSean Jackson is the man." His incredible speed and cocky attitude resonated with fans. He was so fast that he would often run backward into the end zone, or run across the field to showboat before crossing the plane of the end zone.
In the years Jackson has played in Philadelphia, he has accumulated 373 receptions for 6,397 yards and 34 touchdowns. He currently averages 17.1 yards per reception; he led the league in this stat in 2010. He currently sits at sixth in receptions and fourth in receiving yards in franchise history.
Jackson's Greatest Moment
Jackson's greatest moment was when he beat the Giants on a punt return to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history in the Miracle in the New Meadowlands. However, his greatest receiving play was almost as special. On Dec. 12, 2010, Jackson and the Eagles faced off against their rival, the Cowboys, for control of the NFC East. A victory was needed to keep playoff hopes alive as it was a close race with the Giants. Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were on their own nine-yard line. Jackson had injured his foot earlier in the game, but he was about to show that it didn't matter one bit. He ran a short out route and caught the ball about 10 yards downfield, breaking off of his defender after the catch. He immediately sprinted past a second defender, juking past a third, and he was off to the races. With a final effort a Cowboys defender dove at Jackson's feet, but he easily pulled away to cap off a 91-yard touchdown. Just before he crossed the plane, he stopped at the one-yard line, turned around completely and fell backward with his arms up in celebration in front of the entire stadium.
Eagles Stats and Accolades*
- Jersey Number: 10
- Career games: 90
- Receptions: 365
- Receiving yards: 6,276
- Receiving touchdowns: 34
- Accolades: 2008 All-Rookie Team, 3x Pro Bowl selection (2009, 2010, 2013), only player in NFL history to be selected to Pro Bowl for two positions in one year
* All stats and accolades current as of the 2019 season.
Jackson is the only player in NFL history to be selected at two different positions for the Pro Bowl in a single year. He was selected as a wide receiver and a return man.
7. Terrell Owens (2004–05)
Terrell Owens is one of the biggest personalities in NFL history. His career is most well known for his time with the 49ers, after which he joined the Eagles. However, the transition wasn't a smooth one; he became mired in a controversial legal battle with the 49ers.
The 49ers argued that Owens's agent had missed the deadline to void the final years of his contract, but Owens argued that the date they were referring to did not apply to his situation. Owens missed out on free agency when he didn't notify the 49ers by February 21 to void the final three years of his contract. Owens had a clause in his contract to void the contract by the first week in March—but a collective bargaining override, which was created in 2001, changed the date to February 21. The 49ers believed they held rights to Owens, but Owens believed he was a free agent. Soon the two were working on deals simultaneously, with Owens working on a contract to join the Eagles for $49 million over seven years, and the 49ers trading Owens to the Ravens for a second-round pick. Eventually, the players union got involved and the three teams worked out a deal. Owens would join the Eagles, the Ravens would get their pick returned to them and the 49ers received a conditional fifth-round pick and a defensive end. Owens officially joined the Eagles in 2004.
Owens's time with the Eagles was cut short due to money squabbles, but during his short two years with the team he was an unstoppable force. While he only played in 21 total games due to injury and suspension, he finished his time in Philadelphia with 124 receptions for 1,963 yards and 20 touchdowns. To this day, Owens has the highest yards per game and receptions per game in franchise history. While his time with the team was short, his impact on the field was some of the most dominant at the position for any team at any point in history. As one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, Owens had some of his best moments wearing silver and midnight green.
Owens's Greatest Moment
On Dec. 19, 2004, Owens was a victim of a horse-collar tackle that resulted in a fractured fibula and sprained ankle. He was likely going to remain injured and unable to play for the rest of the season, including the upcoming postseason. The Eagles made a great playoff push and were on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance in 24 years. Owens decided he was not going to spend his only Super Bowl appearance on the sideline. With the help of his personal trainer, he used a hyperbaric chamber and a microcurrent to speed his healing process. He suited up for the Super Bowl and outplayed every Eagle on the field. He finished the game with nine receptions for 122 yards, notching more catches and yards than anyone on his team. The team ended up losing the game 21–24, but it wasn't due to any lack of determination or skill from Owens.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 81
- Career games: 21
- Receptions: 124
- Receiving yards: 1,963
- Receiving touchdowns: 20
- Franchise leader: Yards per game, receptions per game
- Accolades: 2004 Pro Bowl selection: 2004 All-Pro selection, 2018 Hall of Fame inductee
Owens once wore a throwback Cowboys Michael Irvin jersey after a loss to the Cowboys in 2005. He would play in Dallas the following season.
6. Pete Pihos (1947–55)
Pete Pihos was selected in the fifth round of the 1945 NFL Draft. Despite this, he went on to finish his college career with the Indiana football program where he had great success as a fullback and was on the only undefeated team in Indiana's history. Pihos also found academic success in college, and he went on to attend law school. When he graduated in June of 1947, he signed to join the Eagles, where he played defensive end and fullback.
Pihos helped the Eagles make it to three straight NFL championships in his first three seasons, losing his first and winning the following two. In the 1949 championship, he scored the only offensive touchdown in the game. His success would continue to follow him until 1952 when he only caught 12 passes in the entire season. Despite this, he still made the Pro Bowl and made a conscious effort to train hard in the offseason. His training paid off and he had the best three statistical seasons of his career, which ended up being his final seasons.
In those last three seasons, Pihos led the league in receptions each year. In 1953, the year after his 12-catch season, he led the league in every statistical category with 63 receptions for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns. Even more amazingly, this was done in a 12-game season. Pihos currently sits at sixth place in franchise history for receiving yards and seventh place for receptions. This is impressive since he played in an era where running was the primary offensive strategy.
Pihos helped change the league into a passing league. He and the Eagles showed that throwing the ball could be a winning formula—and this helped change football forever. In his time with the Eagles, he went to six Pro Bowls, was a five-time All-Pro, won two NFL championships and led the league in receptions three times and yards twice. He was the original go-to receiver in the NFL, and his impact helped lead him to the Hall of Fame in 1970 and be selected for the NFL All-1940s Team.
Pihos's Greatest Moment
In 1949, the Eagles faced off against the Rams in the NFL championship game. The Eagles were the defending champions and the game took place in their opponent's backyard, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. With the home team fans roaring and torrential downpours drenching the field, the outlook for the Eagles' passing offense looked incredibly bleak. The field became an absolute mud pit. In the second quarter, Pihos ran right up the middle of the field splitting two defenders. His quarterback threw a dart right between two men, with Pihos catching it just behind them. The two defenders collided and fell to the ground as Pihos ran into the end zone untouched, scoring the only offensive touchdown of the game.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 35
- Career games: 107
- Receptions: 373
- Receiving yards: 5,619
- Receiving touchdowns: 61
- Accolades: 6x Pro Bowl selection (1950–55), 5x All-Pro selection (1949, 1952–55), Eagles Hall of Fame selection, 1970 Hall of Fame inductee, NFL 1940s All-Decade Team selection
While Pihos is known for his receiving ability, he also played defense and even scored a defensive touchdown in 1952.
5. Zach Ertz (2013–Present)
Zach Ertz is a tight end who was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Since that day, he has dominated as one of the NFL's best tight ends and has also been one of the most highly targeted receivers. In fact, since targets have been a recorded statistic, Ertz has the most targets in Eagles history. He also has the most receptions in a single season for any Eagles player and holds the NFL record for most catches by a tight end in a season.
Ertz has only played eight seasons with the Eagles, but he currently dominates in multiple receiving categories for the franchise. He's first all-time in targets, second in receptions, fifth in receiving yards and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns. NFL teams have started to target athletic tight ends like Ertz to offer more offensive weapons on the field. He was part of the team's only Super Bowl victory and currently has three Pro Bowl selections.
Despite his incredible talent, Ertz didn't begin his career as a superstar. When he was drafted, he was named the backup tight end by then-coach Chip Kelly. Kelly wanted to implement a three tight end system, similar to how the Patriots used multiple tight ends, but as the years went on Ertz began to eat up more and more targets.
After only starting 15 games in his first three seasons, he started to take over in 2016. He started 12 of his 14 games and has never given up his starting role since. His hard work has made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia, where he has accumulated 533 receptions for 5,803 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Ertz's Greatest Moment
In Super Bowl LII, the Eagles trailed the Patriots 32–33. Deep in the fourth quarter, the Eagles faced a fourth down with one yard to go. Quarterback Nick Foles found Ertz right on the line of scrimmage where Ertz was tackled but reached out to get the first down. The play likely saved the game for the team and set up a great drive that reached the 11-yard line. On third down, Ertz lined up wide to the left and ran a short in-route. Foles found Ertz, who caught the ball at the six-yard line and then sped past a falling defender to score what would be the game-winning touchdown. Ertz finished the game with seven receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown. Those two catches helped to solidify one of the greatest Cinderella stories in NFL history as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl in team history.
Eagles Stats and Accolades*
- Jersey Number: 86
- Career games: 106
- Receptions: 525
- Receiving yards: 5,743
- Receiving touchdowns: 35
- Franchise leader: Most receptions in a single game (15), most receptions in a single season (116)
- League leader: Most receptions in a single season for a tight end (116)
- Accolades: 3x Pro Bowl selection (2017–19), Super Bowl LII champion
*All stats and accolades current as of the 2019 season.
Ertz was one of the top-rated tight ends in the country coming out of Monte Vista High School, which is only one hour north of Stanford, where he went to college.
4. Tommy McDonald (1957–63)
Tommy McDonald was selected in the third round of the 1957 NFL Draft. He was originally selected as a running back but rarely saw the field in his first season outside of kick returns. However, when McDonald got a chance to play the wide receiver position, he amazed the team with two catches in his first game—both for touchdowns.
McDonald wasn't a large player by any means. He stood at only 5'9" and weighed only 178 pounds. Despite his small frame, he missed only three games in his first 11 years. His size allowed him to be quick and agile, making acrobatic catches that often led to the end zone. Between 1958 and '62, McDonald had 56 touchdown receptions in just 63 games. He also caught a pass in 93 consecutive games.
McDonald's dominance on the field and big-play ability made him one of the Eagles' best receivers and led to an induction into the Hall of Fame. He currently leads the franchise with 19.2 receiving yards per catch. During his time in Philadelphia, he had 287 receptions for 5,499 yards and 66 touchdowns. He was selected for five Pro Bowls over that time period, and he was also part of the Eagles' 1960 NFL championship team, catching a touchdown in the game. That team was the only team that felled Vince Lombardi's Packers in a championship game.
McDonald led the league in many statistical categories throughout his career. He led the league in touchdowns twice and in yardage once. In 1961, he finished the season with 1,144 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the league in both statistical categories. During that season he also set the franchise's single-game record for yards in a game against the Giants with 237 yards. He's not only one of the greatest Eagles wide receivers of all time, but one of the best receivers in the NFL as well.
McDonald's Greatest Moment
McDonald and the Eagles faced off against Vince Lombardi and the Packers in 1960. At the time, no one knew that Lombardi and the Packers would go on to be one of the greatest dynasty teams of all time, but the Eagles knew that the team was a threat since they were favored to win. McDonald caught a pass deep from quarterback Norman Van Brocklin in the second quarter to take the lead over Green Bay 7–6, shaking off a would-be tackler inside the five-yard line as he went. The play helped the Eagles win their third championship since the franchise's inception in 1933—and their first championship in 11 years. The win would also go down as Lombardi's only loss in a championship game.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 25
- Career games: 88
- Receptions: 287
- Receiving yards: 5,499
- Receiving touchdowns: 66
- Franchise leader: Most yards per catch (19.2 yards per catch)
- Accolades: 5x Pro Bowl selection (1958–62), 1998 Hall of Fame inductee
McDonald was one of the last players to wear a helmet without a face mask. He is also the smallest player inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame.
3. Pete Retzlaff (1956–66)
Pete Retzlaff was picked by the Lions in the 22nd round of the 1953 NFL Draft, but he never played for the team. He served two years in the Army, and when he returned his rights were sold to the Eagles.
Retzlaff had never caught a single pass in college, but the Eagles were desperate for talent and moved him to the end position anyway. He started his career slowly, only catching 22 passes in his first two seasons with the franchise. During his third season, he led the league in receptions with 56. He went on to be selected to five Pro Bowls and was a part of the 1960 championship team.
Retzlaff's consistency throughout his career made him one of the best receivers in Eagles history. He currently sits third in receptions, second in receiving yards and fifth in receiving touchdowns in franchise history. He was also the league's MVP in 1965 when he was given the Bert Bell Award.
Retzlaff's success didn't end there. He went on to be the president of the NFL Players Association from 1962 to '64. He was well respected around the league for his talent and his intelligence. From 1969 to '72, he served as the Eagles' vice president and general manager. As one of the most involved players in Eagles history, Retzlaff was honored when his number was retired and he was inducted into the Eagles' Hall of Fame.
Retzlaff's Greatest Moment
Retzlaff headed into the NFL as a running back who never caught a pass in college. He became a great receiver when Norman Van Brocklin joined the team as a quarterback. Van Brocklin claimed Retzlaff ran routes like his friend Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, with whom he had played in Los Angeles. With Van Brocklin's help, Retzlaff began to train himself to catch the football with his hands instead of his body. Coupling this new skill with his already great route running talent allowed him to lead the league in receptions in 1958.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 44
- Career games: 132
- Receptions: 452
- Receiving yards: 7,412
- Touchdowns: 47
- Accolades: 5x Pro Bowl selection (1958, 1960, 1963–65), 1965 All-Pro selection, 1965 Bert Bell Award recipient, Eagles jersey no. 44 retired, Eagles Hall of Fame inductee
Despite his illustrious catching career in the NFL, Retzlaff never caught a pass in college.
2. Mike Quick (1982–90)
Mike Quick was selected 20th overall in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft. While he didn't start a single game as a rookie, he burst onto the scene in his second season with the Eagles, leading the NFL in receiving yards with 1,409. He went on to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in the following two seasons and became a perennial Pro Bowler during his first five seasons. After that, his career began to slow down due to severe patellar tendonitis. However, the end of his career didn't end his time with the silver and midnight green.
In 1998, Quick went on to become the Eagles' color commentator for local Eagles broadcast stations. He has remained there ever since with Philadelphia broadcast legend Merrill Reese. Anyone living in the Philadelphia area recognizes Quick's voice when they tune into the Sunday games and hear his commentary.
It's no secret that Quick is a fan favorite in Philly. Had his career not been marred with injuries, he would have a bust in Canton today. Between 1983 and '85, Quick was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, averaging nearly 68 catches for 1,236 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite his injuries allowing him to play a full season only three times, he currently sits ninth in receptions, third in yards and is tied for third in touchdowns in franchise history.
Quick's Greatest Moment
In 1985, the Eagles were in overtime with the Falcons, tied 17–17. Philadelphia was backed up as far as they could be, inside their own one-yard line. With Quick lined up to the right, quarterback Ron Jawarski threw to him. Quick caught the ball and squeezed between two defenders who were only inches away. From there he had nothing but grass ahead, and he sprinted down the field to win the game with a rare 99-yard pass play.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 82
- Career games: 101
- Receptions: 363
- Receiving yards: 6,464
- Receiving touchdowns: 61
- Franchise leader: Longest play in a single game (99 yards)
- League leader: 1983 receiving yards leader (1,409 yards)
- Accolades: 5x Pro Bowl selection (1983–87), 2x All-Pro selection (1983, 1985), Eagles Hall of Fame inductee
Quick has been a color commentator for the Eagles since 1998. His 99-yard touchdown is the longest play in overtime history.
1. Harold Carmichael (1971–83)
Sometimes it can be hard to choose the top name in a top-10 list—but that isn't the case with Harold Carmichael.
Carmichael was a physical specimen of power and size. Standing at 6'8" and weighing in at 225 pounds, Carmichael looked down on everyone. He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL Draft and began his career as a tight end. He didn’t have much production in this role, but he was moved to the wide receiver position in the following season. His third year with the team would prove to be a breakout season.
In 1973 Carmichael led the league in receptions and yards with 67 catches for 1,116 yards. He also tied for fourth in touchdowns in the league with nine. He remained consistent over the next three years, though his production did fall due to poor quarterback play—but he became dominant once again with the arrival of quarterback Ron Jawarski in 1977. After that season, he was selected to three straight Pro Bowls, averaging 52 receptions for 920 yards and nine touchdowns over that time.
Carmichael played all but one season with the Eagles, racking up incredible statistics that lead the franchise by a mile. He is first in receptions, yards and touchdowns in franchise history; only his receptions are currently in danger of being surpassed anytime soon. He leads the number two yardage leader by 1,566 yards and the second place touchdown leader by 13.
Carmichael had a long and successful career with the Eagles, and he continued his success after his retirement in 1984. From 1998 to 2014, he was the Eagles' director of player and community relations. He was selected to the Eagles' Hall of Fame in 1987 and is a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
Carmichael's Greatest Moment
Despite being the greatest wide receiver in Eagles history by a mile, Carmichael was snubbed by the Hall of Fame until 2020. His greatest moment was finally getting the credit he deserved after being passed by many other Eagles greats for the golden jacket.
Eagles Stats and Accolades
- Jersey Number: 17
- Career games: 180
- Receptions: 589
- Receiving yards: 8,978
- Receiving touchdowns: 79
- League leader: 1973 receiving yards leader (1,116 yards), 1973 receptions leader (67)
- Accolades: 4x Pro Bowl selection (1973, 1978–80), 1980 NFL Man of the Year, Eagles Hall of Fame inductee, 2020 Hall of Fame inductee, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team selection
At 6'8", Carmichael is the tallest wide receiver in NFL history.
Who Is the Best Eagles Wide Receiver Ever?
Harold Carmichael is the greatest wide receiver in Eagles history. Standing at 6'8" and weighing in at 225 pounds, Carmichael towered over his competition during his career in Philadelphia. He leads the team in every major statistical category for receiving and was honored by the team as part of their team Hall of Fame in 1987. The rest of the NFL caught up in recognizing Carmichael in 2020 when he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When Carmichael finally got inducted he said, "I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t know what to feel. I feel so numb. The first thing I thought about was growing up and the people that I was around and it just went from Jacksonville, Florida up to New Jersey now and just thinking about all the people that I would like to share this with. Because it wasn’t just me by myself, there were times when I wanted to quit but people said keep going. This is such an honor, something that everybody that played in the NFL, are playing in the NFL, this is where they want to get, and it’s a blessing to me to be able to be a part of it, the gold jacket guys.”
Cris Carter (1987–89)
The story of Cris Carter and the Eagles isn't one of greatness; rather, it is a story about what could have been. Carter was picked by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft. He went on to play three seasons with the team, racking up 1,450 yards and 19 touchdowns over that time.
After the 1989 season, and just as Carter was emerging as a star in the league, head coach Buddy Ryan cut Carter in a move that surprised the entire league. Carter has since made it known that the decision was the result of health issues that had caused a fallout between himself and Ryan. Carter was dealing with drug addiction, specifically to cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. Today, Carter attributes his turnaround in life to Ryan's decision to cut him, saying it was his lowest moment in life and a wakeup call. Carter went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Vikings.
Ben Hawkins (1966–73)
Ben Hawkins was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 1966 NFL Draft. He spent eight years with the team and accumulated 261 receptions for 4,764 yards and 32 touchdowns. During his rookie season, he dropped many passes. He had been hyped to be a much better player than he was—and when the boos began to descend Hawkins knew he had to focus up. In 1967 he led the league in receiving yards with 1,265 yards. He had 10 touchdowns and led the league in yards per game with 90.4. Hawkins sits at fifth for all-time receiving yards in franchise history.
When he was in college, Hawkins would regularly leave his chinstrap unhooked so that he could lift his helmet to catch his breath between plays. When he made it to the NFL, the habit had become so ingrained that he never hooked his chinstrap, which led to his helmet being knocked off multiple times. In 1973 the league added a rule that required chinstraps to be secured.
Jeremy Maclin (2009–12, 2014)
Jeremy Maclin was a staple of the Eagles' offense in the early 2010s. He was selected 19th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He was paired with DeSean Jackson and the duo made a deadly receiving core for quarterback Michael Vick. During Maclin's time with the Eagles, they were one of the best offensive units in the NFL, boasting a top-five offense in three of his five seasons with the team. While in Philadelphia, Maclin had 343 receptions for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Maclin is 10th all-time in franchise history for receptions and receiving yards, despite losing the entire 2013 season to a torn ACL. In the following season, he returned and had his best season with the team with 85 receptions, 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates for his inspiring return to the game after such a devastating injury.