While most of the public focus is on whom the Eagles might hire to replace Mike Groh as the team’s offensive coordinator, a couple of interesting names have surfaced as potential candidates for the vacant wide receivers coaching job.
According to a league source, former NFL wideouts Hines Ward and Bobby Engram are being considered for the opening.
Ward, 43, who played 14 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, just finished his first season as an offensive assistant with the Jets.
Engram, 47, who also had a 14-year NFL playing career, has been an assistant on John Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore for the last five years. He spent the first four coaching the team’s wide receivers, and took over the tight ends this season when Harbaugh brought in former Eagles assistant David Culley to coach the Ravens’ wideouts.
Because Ward isn’t a primary assistant, the Eagles wouldn’t need permission from the Jets to speak with him about the WR coaching opening. It’s not clear whether they need, or have, permission from the Ravens yet to speak with Engram.
Whomever the Eagles hire, it will be their fifth wide receivers coach in the five years Doug Pederson has been the head coach. Former Eagles wide receiver Greg Lewis had the job in 2016, followed by Groh in 2017 before he was promoted to offensive coordinator, Gunter Brewer in 2018, and Carson Walch this past season.
Walch, like Groh, was fired last week.
The Eagles haven’t had a WR coach with actual NFL playing experience since Lewis was fired. He lasted only one year here, but was then hired by Andy Reid and has been the Chiefs’ wide receivers coach for the last three seasons.
Ward is one of the best wide receivers in Steelers history. He caught 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns in his 14 seasons with the team.
After retiring in 2011, he spent three years as a studio analyst for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Last year, he was the player relations executive for the short-lived pro spring league, the Alliance of American Football.
Ward spent last summer as a coaching intern with the Jets, then was hired full-time as an offensive assistant, primarily working with the team’s wide receivers coach, Shawn Jefferson.
Ward played two years with Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley after Staley signed as a free agent with the Steelers in 2004 following seven seasons with the Eagles.
According to the league source, Ward has had conversations with Staley, as well as others in the Eagles organization, about the opening.
Engram, who played his college ball at Penn State, played for Chicago, Kansas City, and Seattle during his NFL career. He finished with 650 career receptions for 7,751 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Engram spent two years as the wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh before joining Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore in 2014.