The Eagles have insisted they’re not going to cut wide receiver Riley Cooper — instead putting him on a leave of absence after he was caught using a racial slur on video.
But around the league, opinion is mixed among team executives about his future in the league if the Eagles decide to turn a trial separation into a permanent one.
“Very tough to trade him right now,” one unnamed executive said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “Time passes – not sure how much time – but he would be signed if cut.”
Trading for Cooper right now would be insane, actively seeking out controversy at a time when every team is hopeful for a new season.
Even claiming him off waivers would take a coach and a G.M. with a huge amount of self-confidence and job security, to bring in a player many consider radioactive because of his remarks.
But talented players get second chances. One exec pointed to Kerry Collins, who rebounded for a long career after a similar incident earlier in his career with the Panthers. But second or third wideouts aren’t in nearly the same kind of demand as quarterbacks, making it harder to draw that comparison.
“Can never say never,” a second executive said. “All it takes is for one team to have an interest. After all, Kerry Collins came back after his situation in Carolina.
“But [Cooper is] not a high-end player, so a lot of teams won’t want to deal with the issue in or out of their building.”
The concept of more-trouble-than-he’s-worth is significant, as receivers who have done more are available now (the 49ers just signed a pair yesterday).
Cooper’s best chance at putting the incident behind him might be with the Eagles, since he has background there, and at least a few people there support him. Introducing him to a brand new place, where he’s only known as “the guy who said that thing” would mean starting from scratch, and there might not be many teams willing to spend the time or energy required to integrate him into their system.