ORLANDO, Fla. — Howie Roseman was more than willing to talk about any topic not involving DeSean Jackson Monday afternoon.
The assembled media spent more than 30 minutes with the Eagles’ GM, and despite his official stance on the subject, tried to search for hints about the team’s plans.
Keeping that in mind, here are three items worth noting, all with a Jackson slant.
1. There have been some questions about whose call this is. And really, that goes back to why the Eagles are looking to move on from Jackson in the first place.
If there is some kind of smoking gun (and we’re searching) that will make it obvious why the team is moving on from the talented receiver, then the Eagles will be able to explain their reasoning as a collaborative organizational decision. But up until now, no such reason has been revealed.
If this is a decision based on Jackson’s fit in the locker room, the culture, him being high-maintenance, etc., then we have a different story. And if that’s the case, there’s no question in my mind that the decision will be Chip Kelly’s.
“The job of a personnel staff or the GM is to make sure that you’re getting players that fit your coaches,” Roseman said. “We can all get really good players, but if they don’t fit your scheme or they don’t fit what the coach is looking for at a particular position, they’re not gonna be utilized well.”
Key phrase there: What the coach is looking for.
The Eagles are a coach-centric organization. Jeffrey Lurie has made that clear on a number of occasions. The idea that Roseman would walk into Kelly’s office and tell the head coach that he’s taking away one of his best offensive weapons is silly. Kelly has final say on the 53-man roster, and Roseman’s staff looks for players that fit what Kelly wants. But the head coach has to be on board – especially with a move this significant.
While we’re at it, any suggestion that Jackson is a poor scheme fit is ludicrous. The guy had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in this scheme. And the notion that they would move on from him because he’s not a great blocker is also absurd. Jackson actually gave effort in that area last year. Even if he’s never going to be above-average there, the Eagles still were the best rushing team in the NFL with Jackson rarely coming off the field last season.
2. Roseman did little to dispute the notion that the Eagles might think Jackson is replaceable.
Asked about the WR class, he said: “It’s the best group at any position in the draft in our opinion. I think when you talk about it, it makes a lot of sense because of all the underclassmen that came out. When you look at the draft and just look at position groups, I think it’d be hard to argue that it’s not the best position group.
“When you look at the history of that position too, guys drop. We’ve been in a lot of drafts where guys are dropping. And so when you put that compared to just the absolute numbers, and then you look around the league and you just say, ‘How many teams already have three? How many teams have four? So are they really gonna go in the first and second rounds and take one?’ I think it’ll be consistent with what we talked about at the combine.”
At the combine, Roseman suggested that there could be a wide receiver available in every round that the Eagles like. And many agree that the position is loaded with talent.
In reality, you could make the case that the Eagles should at least get back some of Jackson’s production with a speedster on the outside. The problem? That means they’re going into the draft with a specific need to make the offense go (which is a bad thing). And also, such a theory is predicated on getting a healthy return for Jackson in a trade.
It’s true that Riley Cooper did way more in Kelly’s offense last year than he had done previously in his NFL career. But to think that the Eagles could easily replace Jackson’s production because of the scheme would be a serious mistake, in my opinion.
3. The only NFL person to speak truthfully on the record about Jackson has been Jets owner Woody Johnson. He told reporters yesterday that the Jets are looking at a lot of players, including Jackson.
Of course, Jackson remains under contract, meaning that Johnson’s comments could be considered tampering.
Asked if the Eagles plan to file charges, Roseman said: “I haven’t read all the speculation, all the reports about everything. I’m trying to keep my head down and really at this moment trying to enjoy my family a little bit. I obviously know there’s a lot of speculation going on. I think for us, any conversation we have with teams, about teams [players], it just serves our point well with the relationships we have with those to keep those private.”
Speaking of interested teams, earlier today we recapped some of the latest rumors involving the Raiders, 49ers and Seahawks.
And Tim has more from Roseman, including Jackson and the culture question.