By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
On Monday night, news broke that the Eagles were signing former AAF quarterback Luis Perez.
As it turns out, Perez will not be the only AAF player to get a chance to earn a spot with the Eagles as the team signed two wide receivers from the league on Tuesday.
The receivers, Greg Ward Jr. and Charles Johnson, each have some level of experience in the NFL prior to their joining the AAF for it’s inaugural and apparently only season.
They join a wideout corps that is lead by Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. That leaves two or three spots open, though one could argue that Mack Hollins, who spent all of 2018 on IR, has the inside track to the fourth receiver spot.
Ward was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Eagles in 2017. Since he was a quarterback in college, he was not expected to make the team as a newly converted wide receiver. He struggled with some drops in the preseason, totaling nine catches for 63 yards that preseason. He also had a fumble.
In the 2018 preseason, Ward seemed unable to get open. He totaled just four receptions for 29 yards. That was a terrible showing for a receiving corps that essentially consisted of Nelson Agholor alone.
Ward appeared in seven AAF games, however, which adds the amount of reps he’d get in an additional two preseasons. He certainly didn’t set the league on fire, totaling 22 catches and 214 yards, but he was adequate and was one of the stars of the AAF’s week one.
Ward proved to be a good punt returner in his time in the AAF, even returning one for a touchdown. Should Darren Sproles chose to retire, the Eagles are currently without a return man. Ward could earn himself a roster spot by becoming that guy.
Charles Johnson lead the AAF with 45 catches for 687 yards. Since he was the best receiver in the league, you’d have to imagine that if any AAF receivers are going to do well in the NFL, it’d be Johnson.
He has already spent time with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets, however, and his only game action came with the Vikings, so expectations shouldn’t be too high.
In 39 games with the Vikings between 2014 and 2016, Johnson caught 60 of 109 passes for 834 yards and two touchdowns while fumbling only once. His 2013 season with the Browns and 2017 season with the Panthers were both cut short due to season-ending injuries early on in the year.
Johnson will almost certainly not become a superstar for the Birds, but could become a very good option to have as a backup on the roster in case a scenario like the one that plagued the wide receiver room in early 2018 were to occur again.