In the past week or so, there’s been a lot of talk about DeSean Jackson’s future with the Eagles and the possibility of the organization moving on without him.
The way I see it the only thing that really matters in this scenario is Chip Kelly’s opinion. Forget Jackson’s salary, the team’s decision to re-sign Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper and everything else. The bottom line is simply if the head coach – for one reason or another – thinks trading Jackson is the right move to get the organization closer to a Super Bowl, then that’s what the Eagles will do.
But barring a slam dunk deal, I think such a move would be an enormous mistake for the following reasons:
* The basic premise of the Eagles’ offense last year was to attack with the run until defenses showed they could stop LeSean McCoy and company. When defenses committed more bodies to the box, the Eagles did their damage over the top in the passing game. That’s why they had the best rushing offense in the league and the best downfield passing attack. Trading one of the best two or three vertical threats in the league would be an enormous blow to the way the system operates.
* Without Jackson, this is a below-average receiving corps. Cooper benefited from man coverage with no safety help all season long. That doesn’t happen if Jackson’s not on the other side. Maclin is a productive receiver, but he’s coming off of an ACL injury and is not the downfield threat Jackson is. The free agent pool is weak. And while the draft class is considered deep at wide receiver, the last thing the Eagles want to do is go into May feeling like they have to find a starting-caliber pass-catcher. That’s when mistakes are made.
* The Inquirer reported that Jason Avant often had to act as a mediator between Jackson and wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. I don’t doubt that, but both Jackson and Bicknell should find a way to work things out. Even with the disagreements last year, Jackson had a career year. Four wide receivers had at least 80 catches and averaged at least 16 yards per reception: Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery. In other words, Jackson is not as replaceable as some might believe. The move is to make the relationship work, not cut ties because there are some disagreements.
* Jackson’s salary to me is a non-issue. Per OverTheCap.com, Jackson got $15 million guaranteed with his new deal, which ranks 15th among wide receivers. His average annual salary is $9.7 million, which ranks eighth. Bottom line? The most talented, productive players on your roster tend to get paid the most money. It’s really as simple as that. The Eagles still have the 11th-most cap space in the league going into free agency.
Like I said at the beginning, if there is some kind of smoking gun with Jackson that has yet to be revealed, and if Kelly wants to go in a different direction, maybe the Eagles pull a stunner at some point.
But Jackson looked like a great fit for this offense in 2013, and right now, given the information we have, I can’t come up with a legitimate reason why the Eagles would be wise to get rid of him.
WHAT YOU MISSED
From the big names to sleepers, here are six safeties the Eagles could target in free agency.
What they’re saying: One national writer thinks the Eagles would be a good fit for Jairus Byrd.
Rounding up league-wide free agency buzz.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz isn’t ready to close the book on Michael Vick just yet:
Honestly, I don’t know why the Eagles would rule Vick out. If the market doesn’t play out as he’d like it, seems to me that you would be willing to talk to him about returning as a backup. I don’t anticipate Vick coming back. I do think some team will give Vick a chance to be their starter or at least compete for the starting role.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has the Eagles taking Louisville safety Calvin Pryor at No. 22:
He is a big-hitting safety who would fill a major need if they don’t land one in free agency.
Thursday is Mailbag Day at Birds 24/7. We’ll get to some of your questions.