Mackanin says Phillies will keep Herrera in center field
Flyers Heritage: Goalies

Though a Fit, DeSean Jackson Isn't Eagles Answer at WR

By Paul Macrie, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Last Sunday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles will look to sign impending free agent DeSean Jackson in the offseason. It makes sense. The team is in desperate need of wide receiver help.

However, a reunion with the speedy wide receiver, who was drafted by the Eagles in 2008, isn't the answer.

Jackson's elite speed remain a big part of his overall game. Philadelphia lacks a receiver who can stretch the field effectively, despite an attempt to see if Bryce Treggs can do so. Treggs is simply not the player Jackson is or will ever be. The only thing they have in common is they both went to the University of California. 

Durability is a concern with Jackson, however. He recently turned 30 years old, and has already played nine seasons in the league. It is hard to believe, but he has some serious mileage on him now. The nagging injuries continue, as he hasn't played a full season since 2013 -- his career season with the Eagles -- which proved to be his last with the team. 

After averaging a stellar 20.9 yards per catch in Jackson's first season in Washington in 2014, it has been a decline in that category the past two seasons. After missing six regular season games in 2015, he has missed only one game this season, but he isn't getting any younger. 

As soon as "D-Jax's" speed deteriorates, soon the end of his career will follow. Though he improved his overall route running during his career, he has always been a downfield threat more than a guy willing to catch the ball over the middle. The Eagles might not need him to move the chains, but committing a multi-year deal to Jackson isn't the solution. 

It has been speculated that Jackson will command around $8-$9 million a year on the open market. Washington could opt to re-sign him, but second-year receiver Jamison Crowder has emerged as a go-to guy, plus rookie Josh Doctson is a player they value as a top-end receiver in the future, though he has missed most of the season with an Achilles injury. Pierre Garcon remains a reliable pass catcher, and is an impending free agent as well.

Weighing what the Redskins have at wide receiver, Jackson probably won't be heavily pursued to re-sign in Washington. He will have every opportunity to gauge interest from other teams as soon as free agency begins in early March. The Eagles will probably be in consideration due to a multitude of reasons, especially because of need and familiarity with the organization. 

Jackson spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia, and is reportedly intrigued about returning to the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2008. He had a solid relationship with then-head coach Andy Reid, but not so much with Chip Kelly, who lobbied to release him in the spring of 2014. He also spent time with then-quarterback coach Doug Pederson who, of course, is now the head coach. 

As Jackson gets set to play the Eagles this weekend at Lincoln Financial Field -- his third meeting against his former team at his old home field -- one of the pre-game storylines will be about a possible reunion in 2017. It makes sense, but at the same time -- the organization has to explore a better option. 

With the Eagles out of playoff contention and a lot of the talk transferred to the offseason, Jackson has been a topic of conversation. He probably can fit into the team's salary cap for 2017 and beyond, but there has to be caution about a long-term commitment. A combination with age and an injury history makes this a short-sighted solution. 

The Eagles will have to address the wide receiver position this offseason. That is the obvious consensus. But a player such as Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffrey are better options. Jeffrey will cost the most out of the entire free agent wide receiver crop, but Floyd could come at a reasonable price considering his age, 27, and his inconsistency. Floyd has upside but struggles with drops -- yes, I know it sounds familiar. It isn't time to give up one the Notre Dame product just yet. 

Though a DeSean Jackson-Eagles reunion wouldn't be the worst scenario to play out, it still isn't guaranteed that it will make the offense that much better. Drafting a receiver or two should also be an option, too. Though it will be important to add a veteran wideout, there are more cons than pros with "D-Jax."

Only four weeks remain in the Eagles season. That means there is only a month remaining to endure the struggles at the receiving position.

General manager Howie Roseman will have to address this glaring weakness heading into the offseason. Though he will be tempted to bring back Jackson, it will be best to resist and focus on another option in free agency and the draft. Roseman has demonstrated in the past that he can work the trade market effectively, which could be another scenario that unfolds in March.  

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