The Philadelphia Eagles have had hard luck at the wide receiver position over the last decade. From poor high draft picks to ineffective free agents, the Eagles just can't seem to figure out -- or in some minds, care about -- the wide receiver position as they do with other areas on the roster. Last season Carson Wentz became the first quarterback in the 100-year history of the NFL to throw for 4,000 yards and not have a single wide receiver with 500 receiving yards. The proof is in the pudding.
Thanks to Travis Fulgham, Wentz shouldn't have a issue trusting a wide receiver in 2020. Yes, Travis Fulgham -- a 2019 sixth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions -- has become the wide receiver that Wentz can finally rely on, a diamond in the rough the Eagles haven't had at the position since Harold Carmichael ( a seventh-round pick in 1971). The Eagles have a brutal history at the wide receiver position -- outside of a few outliers -- which is what makes Fulgham shining with the franchise all the more improbable.
Who is Travis Fulgham? Here's how the wide receiver ended up in Philadelphia and some incredible feats he's reached in his first two games with the Eagles.
Travis Fulgham's career timeline
- Only played two years of high school football at Broad Run High School in Virginia. He didn't live in the United States until ninth grade because his parents were Foreign Service Officers with the United States Agency for International Development.
- Walked on at Old Dominion and redshirted in 2014. Earned a scholarship after a week into practice with the Monarchs in his freshman year, finishing with 128 catches for 2,044 yards and 18 touchdowns in 39 games. Fulgham finished with 63 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns in his senior season, earning an invite to the Senior Bowl.
- Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round (No. 184 overall) in 2019. Signed a rookie deal in May and was waived in September of that year, but re-signed to the practice squad a day later.
- Called up to the Lions' active roster in December of 2019, playing 63 offensive snaps and 26 special teams snaps. Targeted three times and had no catches.
- Lions waived Fulgham on August 9 of this year and the Green Bay Packers claimed him off waivers the next day. Green Bay waived Fulgham nine days later.
- Eagles claimed Fulgham off waivers on August 20 and cut him on roster cutdown day (September 4). Philadelphia signed Fulgham to the practice squad and he went unprotected for the first two weeks of the year (any team could have signed him to their roster). The Eagles protected Fulgham for Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals and promoted him to the active roster for their Week 4 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
- Caught the game-winning 42-yard touchdown pass in a 25-20 upset victory over the 49ers on October 4. Fulgham finished with two catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
- Eagles kept Fulgham on active roster for Week 5 matchup against Pittsburgh Steelers. Fulgham finished with 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown, the only player in Eagles history to record 10 catches for 150 yards in his first five career games.
Fulgham's breakout performance
Fulgham had 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 38-29 loss to the Steelers, making some franchise history in the process. Fulgham is just one of 11 Eagles players in franchise history to have 10 catches for 150 yards in a game and the first NFL player since Anquan Boldin in 2003 to have 10 catches for 150 yards in a game in the first five games of his career.
Fulgham has 12 catches for 209 yards through two games with the Eagles, the fifth-most for any player in franchise history through his first five career games. He is the first player with a touchdown catch in each of his first two games as an Eagle since Terrell Owens in 2004.
"Travis gives the quarterback a big catch radius. He's so long, he's athletic -- you don't have to be perfect with throws for Travis to make a catch. There's a comfort zone with Travis that I think quarterbacks will enjoy because they don't have to be perfect. And he's going to be where he needs to be. He's going to run tight routes, even with his size he can get in and out of breaks better than most people that are smaller than him. You put those two things together and it makes the quarterback very comfortable. And we talk about that in our room all the time, about putting quarterbacks in the comfort zone and he does that." -- Old Dominion WR coach John Allen on Fulgham to CBS Sports senior draft writer Ryan Wilson in February 2019
Read the full Fulgham interview here.
The Eagles are set for Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson to return from injury this week as both players started off the practice week as limited participants in preparation for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. Jeffery has been out since last December with a LisFranc injury and Jackson has missed the past two games with a hamstring issue.
First-round pick Jalen Reagor is still on injured reserve after undergoing thumb surgery, but Jackson and Reagor shouldn't affect Fulgham's snap counts. That will come down to Jeffery, who plays the "X" like Fulgham and is a possession receiver. Will the Eagles bench their breakout star -- and their best wide receiver in 2020 -- for a 30-year-old that has a $15,396,500 cap hit this year?
"It is hard to say, 'Hey Travis, we're going to push you to the side because here comes a couple of guys,'" Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said this week. "At the end of the day, we've got to select the four or five guys that we feel give us the best opportunity on game day. Some of it could be based purely on matchup. Obviously, Travis has made a case to continue to play and play at a high level."
Fulgham's performance justifies he should play over Jeffery and remain in the starting lineup, freeing up Jackson and Reagor as the deep threats on the other side of the field. He also gives rookies John Hightower and Quez Watkins more time to develop and grow on the practice field. Fulgham can also line up in the slot, another checkmark in the plus column for the coaching staff.
The Eagles have to look no further than the player who trusts Fulgham the most: Carson Wentz.
"He's a big-time player and we've seen what he's done in practice now for a while and how he's kind of come along within our offense, within our system," Wentz said this week. "With the injuries and everything going around, he was the next guy up. We looked out there and said, 'Hey, we're confident in this guy to get it done.' He's been making play after play. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him."
Case closed. Fulgham should remain in the starting lineup.