The Eagles were the only team in the NFL that didn't have an "outside" receiver with more than 50 targeted passes last season. Most teams had two. Some had three. The Eagles, for various reasons, didn't have a consistent threat outside the numbers or downfield.

Only two of four regulars from last season remain on the roster. Riley Cooper was released last month and Miles Austin was mercifully cut with five games left in 2015. Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff return, as expected, but neither was drafted by new coach Doug Pederson or returning general manager Howie Roseman, per se, so their futures aren't as clear as if Chip Kelly had stayed.

But there was, in essence, very little the Eagles could have done with Agholor and Huff this offseason. There wasn't much the new regime could have done in free agency, either. Alshon Jeffery was the only bona fide star, and after the Bears used their franchise tag on him, there was a significant drop in starting-caliber receivers.

The Eagles, to no one's surprise, did add a veteran. They signed former Rams receiver Chris Givens to a one-year, $840,000 contract - otherwise known as a "show-me" contract. While the 26-year-old Givens is already by default the Eagles' most accomplished outside receiver, his arrival shouldn't alter what Roseman and Pederson said about the receivers prior to his signing.

"We feel we have three young receivers who have the opportunity to develop and grow here, deserve the opportunity to develop and grow," Roseman said. "We're excited about the opportunity for our coaches to get our hands on them."

Jordan Matthews is, of course, the third receiver Roseman spoke of, but he has played primarily in the slot, and there appears to be little reason to expect Pederson to move him outside. Matthews is certainly talented enough to play outside, but his skills are best utilized inside, as evidenced by the production (152 catches for 1,869 yards and 16 touchdowns) in his first two seasons.

So that leaves Agholor, Huff, and Givens as the primary receivers to battle for the two starting outside spots. The Eagles could expend an early-round draft pick on the position, but will they after using a first, second, and third in the previous two drafts and with other positions of need?

Not likely. Agholor and Huff have disappointed, but it's far too early to draw conclusions, especially with the former. Agholor may have finished last in the NFL in yards per route run, but a midseason ankle injury did him no favors and neither did a passing offense that was increasingly designed around Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz.

There was ample reason why Matthews and Ertz, who signed a five-year extension in January, became, and will likely remain, the focal points. But the Eagles won't have continued success over the middle and in the run game without an outside presence that stretches defenses vertically and horizontally.

The Eagles have the most riding on Agholor's development. The 2015 first-round selection was thrust into the starting spot vacated by Jeremy Maclin. He played 72.6 percent of snaps in 13 games, but finished the season with only 23 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown.

The injury and scheme had something to do with the lack of production, but Agholor also regularly drew an opposing defense's top cornerback. There was no need for opponents to switch corners with Huff (27 catches, 312 yards, three touchdowns), Cooper (21, 327, two), and Austin (13, 224, one) on the other side of the field.

It was unclear whether Agholor's struggles had anything to do with his size, or lack thereof. He isn't small by most measurements (6-foot, 198 pounds), but like the similarly sized Maclin, Agholor may need to add bulk during his first full offseason.

The importance of the offseason for second-year players, in particular receivers, cannot be overstated. The gifted 2014 draft class may have altered expectations for the position, but historically it takes two to three years for most receivers to start to peak.

Huff progressed in his sophomore season, but most of his best moments came on catch-and-run plays. He continued to have trouble pulling in tough, downfield throws. The slot may be his ideal position, but the Eagles already have someone there.

Agholor should get every opportunity to log snaps, and Huff will likely see the field often, as well, but Givens doesn't have receivers cemented ahead of him. He has the ability to take the top off of a defense. Asked the benefit of having a deep threat, he deadpanned: "We can score a touchdown."

Givens set an NFL rookie record in 2012 when he caught 50-plus-yard passes in five straight games. But he hasn't been reliable, particularly after 2013 - his last season catching passes from Sam Bradford. With Bradford at quarterback, Givens averaged 2.7 catches and 45.1 receiving yards per game. Without him, he averaged 1.2 catches and 20.7 yards.

Aside from Matthews, Agholor, and Huff, Givens joins a group that has four other receivers - Jonathan Krause, Freddie Martino, Seantavius Jones, and Xavier Rush - who are also under the age of 25.

"I know it's a talented group. Everybody's pretty young," Givens said. "I'm the old guy in the room, but I'm pretty young myself. . . . We all have things we can bring to the table, and we're going to work together to be one of the better groups in the NFL."

Before Givens came aboard, Pederson had a similar opinion. He said that with Matthews, Agholor, and Huff the Eagles could have a "dynamic offense."

Hope springs eternal, but so do impact outside receivers.

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane