Why Eagles’ Jalen Reagor isn’t focused on trade rumors or social media insults following an offseason of loss

Former first-round pick Jalen Reagor is buried on the Philadelphia Eagles' depth chart. He is facing an uphill battle in a summer of learning and loss.

PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Reagor knows what you’re thinking.

He’s seen the personal attacks on social media and heard the jeers from Eagles fans at the NovaCare Complex during practices in training camp. The former first-round pick is also well-versed in what “boos” sound like at Lincoln Financial Field. He knows that fans aren’t going to buy into the hype of a strong summer and that most of them want him to be traded … for basically anything. But none of that really matters to him.

Jalen Reagor looking to rebound after offseason of loss

This offseason, Reagor endured a couple of tough life lessons through loss.

In January, Reagor’s grandmother — who he credits with raising him — passed away. He then lost his best friend, former NFL cornerback Jeff Gladney, in a deadly car crash in May. Those losses gave Reagor a lot to think about as he entered his third NFL training camp.

He leaned heavily on his father, Montae, a former Eagles and Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman, for emotional strength and wisdom. Through those hard times, Reagor pushed forward with added perspective. He also got in the best shape of his career.

Reagor believes that’s exactly how Gladney would want him to carry on in his memory.

“I’m not all the way through [the grieving process], but I know I have a job to do,” Reagor said. “And I know what [Gladney] would want me to do. I’m just continuing to [honor] him every time I touch the field — give it to him and God — and do the best that I can.”

Reagor entered last year’s training camp out of shape. This offseason, his wide receivers coach, former NFL wideout Aaron Moorehead, believes he returned to Philly in better shape than most of his teammates.

“He came in as good a shape as anyone in the camp this year, and it’s showed by the way he’s played,” Moorehead said.

Reagor has routinely made headlines for his sensitivity to social media. And while the occasional hiccup — like a dispute over his playing toughness early in camp — has occurred, he’s in a better place mentally because of the personal experiences he’s had over the past few months.

He knows what’s important in life, and he’s not trying to dwell on the criticisms of faceless posters or disgruntled fans.

“Just put my head down and go to work,” Reagor said. “Not really worried about anything else, just focused on myself.”

Down the totem pole

While Reagor returned to camp with an improved physique and attitude, he found himself deeper down the depth chart than in years past.

The team traded first- and third-round picks to the Tennessee Titans to acquire top wideout A.J. Brown in April. Philly then immediately gave Brown a four-year, $100 million contract extension.

Brown’s arrival ruled out a starting role for Reagor. He had already been succeeded in the lineup by DeVonta Smith, last year’s first-round pick, and draft classmate and friend, Quez Watkins, last season.

So, Reagor came into the summer fighting for a job with the fourth spot on the totem pole being his best option for playing time.

“I love a good challenge,” Reagor said. “It’s a humbling experience because you go from being a first-rounder to you battling — but I like challenges, though.”

Stay or trade?

The Eagles can’t cut Reagor, as that move would enact a $6.04 million dead-money hit, according to Over The Cap.

The team’s only option in a potential divorce would be through a trade. While Reagor’s name has repeatedly been mentioned in trade rumors, and the Baltimore Ravens — according to a league source — showed some interest in him during the offseason, the Eagles don’t seem to be in a rush to unload him for just about anything.

In particular, Reagor has the backing of Moorehead, who has known him since the coach and Reagor’s father were teammates in Indianapolis in the 2000s. Moorehead hasn’t given up on the former first-round pick, even if his depth chart is now stacked to the brim.

“He’s had a nice camp so far, he’s made plays, and he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Moorehead said. “He’s got to come in and challenge himself every day to be great on the field, off the field, and continue to take care of himself. We have had no issues this year.”

In order for Reagor to have a role with the Eagles, he needs to outlast veteran Zach Pascal — a favorite of head coach Nick Sirianni — undrafted standout Britain Covey, Deon Cain, Greg Ward, John Hightower, Lance Lenoir, Devon Allen, and Keric Wheatfall for a job. The Eagles also have listed Reagor as their top punt and kick returner on their first unofficial depth chart, which could lead to a game-day place to make plays.

But does Reagor want a new opportunity through a trade? Publicly, he’s standing firm on his goal to revitalize his potential where it all started.

“I want to be here for the rest of my career,” Reagor said. “But, you know, it’s a business — a business of production. I’m going to handle my end, and I’m going to let them handle theirs.”

Make-or-break preseason

Last summer, Reagor made a couple of circus catches that tantalized the fan base and gave the Philly faithful hope that he had turned the corner from his underwhelming rookie season. Reagor went on to play 67% of the offensive snaps, but he caught just 33 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns.

That’s why it’s understandable that fans are a little hesitant to buy into Reagor’s positive reviews through three weeks of camp. The wideout has been running mostly with the second-team offense, even with Smith sidelined with a groin injury. Despite the depth reps, though, Reagor has made the most of his targets, especially of late.

On Wednesday, Reagor worked with the starters and was able to beat No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay on an out route. Starting QB Jalen Hurts looked Reagor’s way and put the ball where only he could get it. Reagor made a highlight fingertip catch before heading out of bounds for a 10-yard gain in 11-on-11 team drills.

“It’s one of those things that the coaches game plan,” Reagor said about the play. “If Slay would have played off, you have a certain conversion — but he played off, I came full speed, and a great throw by Jalen. It’s my job to make the quarterback look good.”

That highlight added to a handful of big plays made in previous practices, as Reagor has routinely used his deep speed to get open for chunk plays. He hasn’t been perfect — no wideout can make that claim — but he’s looked consistently capable of making plays when the ball goes to him, which is a steady improvement from his first two years.

As one source told Pro Football Network, Reagor is “locked in.”

All that said, the Eagles still might spotlight Reagor in the preseason to shop him to the highest bidder before final cuts. Or, maybe, they’ll finally help him get in rhythm with Hurts and the starters as Smith recovers on the sideline.

Either way, Reagor knows he can’t worry about the end result. He just needs to do his job.

“We’ve got a hell of a room,” Reagor said. “It’s a competition in there. Obviously, people have their jobs, some people don’t, and some people are fighting. So, you’ve got to come in, and when people go down, you’ve got to step up. When people are up, you’ve just to make sure you’re ready when it’s your time.”

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