It's pretty obvious we as Eagle fans have a fairly large issue with Desean Jackson and his contract issue. Everybody has been throwing their two cents worth in so I figured that I would also comment in detail about it.
In this post I'm pretty much going to cover what I feel about the whole situation, what Desean brings to this team and a few directions the team could go should Desean not return.
What does Desean Jackson bring to the table?
First off we need to realize that up until this year Desean factored into two different categories here in Philly, he is a Wide Receiver and a Punt Returner. I personally do take into account the Return abilities because more times than not they're game changing plays that are nearly impossible to replace.
Desean has had some very crazy plays as a Punt Returner, we all saw what he did to the Giants 2 years ago and we've seen his magic over and over again. In his 4 years Desean has 116 returns for 1,226 yards and 4 TD's. While he only has 4 TD's he adds an average of 10.6 yards per return... The hidden yardage that special teams brings to the table makes a huge difference in the long run.
As a Wide Receiver Desean is electrifying when he actually puts forth an effort. In his 4 years Desean has 230 rec for 4,096 yards and 21 TD's. And while those are some good stats it doesn't tell the whole story of Desean, when he lines up his speed and presence forces teams to play their safety's back in order to try and limit the big plays.
However with all of the good we get out of Desean we get a level on inconsistency from him and he tends to disappear in the redzone, he'll go 3-4 games with only 2 catches for 30 yards and then he'll explode with a 4 catch game for 150 yards and a TD. In Desean we have a very streaky player to put it as simply as I can.
Options should we not resign Desean...
There are plenty of options should the Eagles and/or Desean decide a divorce is best for themselves or both parties.. My options will range from in-house guys, Free Agency and even the draft... I'll be picking the guys I feel are the best fit for the Eagles.
- Vincent Jackson- Jackson is a deep threat WR, while not the same style as Desean he is a big play type of guy. One of the bonus's we could obtain by replacing Desean with Vincent is that we'd get a more physical receiver who can and will fight for the ball and even go across the middle.
- Dwayne Bowe- Bowe's likely to be franchised, I would actually be surprised if he wasn't at this point. However the reason I have Bowe on my list right now is because without a steady QB situation he still puts up great numbers and I feel that if we could promise him a steady QB situation and a winning team we could lure him away. Bowe actually isn't so much of a Desean replacement in this case as he is a complimentary guy for Maclin. Not to mention he is a Redzone target, and everybody knows how bad we need one of those.
- Steve Johnson- One of my boys from Kentucky is set to his Free Agency. I don't think the Bills will franchise Johnson due to the fact that there's plenty of WR's available in FA and the Draft... This could be good for the Eagles because Johnson provides a similar skill set as Jackson but a much bigger frame. If he holds onto the ball a bit better he's easily one of the better WR's out there this FA.
- Laurent Robinson- Robinson would surely be a risk if we picked him up, he's been ineffective pretty much everywhere until he signed with the Cowboys then something just seemed to click. I feel he could come in on a decent contract and provide a solid #2 option for Vick to throw to if we miss out on some of the bigger name guys.
For the draft aspect of this I'm going to basically go over some of the guys I feel will be there when we pick, I'm going to try and aim for 1 prospect per pick per round... So here we go.
- Round 1 (#15): Kendall Wright- Kendall is a vertical threat like Desean however he seems to be a little bit bigger and will go and fight for the ball. This kid will even go over the middle and put his body on the line. I feel like he could be a guy you can build a team around.
- Round 2 (#46): Alshon Jeffrey- Jeffrey's a big physical guy, if he runs in the sub-4.5's then he's a first rounder, however much of what I've seen has him in the early to mid 2nd.
- Round 2 (#51): Joe Adams- I love watching him play, he's an amazing returner and could potentially develop into a weapon close to what Desean has become.
- Round 3 (#77): Dwight Jones- Another big target who could potentially fill in and match the production that we lose by letting Desean walk.
- Round 4 (#99): Tommy Streeter- Another talented WR, I honestly don't know to much from him aside from what I've heard here on BGN.
- Round 4 (#114): Jarius Wright- A speedster who would likely need some time to develop.
Now lets take a look at a bit lesser talked about option to replace Desean Jackson should he end up in another teams uniform.. In my opinion our guy to move over into that slot left by Jackson would be Jason Avant, and I firmly believe that Avant could adequately fill that position and move out of the slot and be productive. Just take a look at his production when he's lined up on the outside in place of an injured Jackson or Maclin.
I do realize he dropped a few big balls this season but the norm for Avant is that he is sure handed and will make the catch and while his catch, yardage and touchdown totals are low he's always been just a slot guy who they use to go over the middle and try to make something happen, if we moved him to the outside we'd make him a bigger part of the offense and I think he'd respond by putting up respectable numbers, just take a look at what he did against SD in 2009 and the Bills this past season, he's definitely capable of putting up some big numbers.
Now I do realize this would create a void in the slot and I'm not a firm believer in Riley Cooper anymore, I think the Eagles should they decide not to bring in help through Free Agency should just draft a young guy who has the potential to move outside and let them learn the ropes in the slot, or if they do decide that Avant can be the answer to the Djax void then they can draft somebody like Rainey as a primary slot guy.
My 2 cents worth:
As far as I am concerned Desean can walk or stay and I'll be just as happy either way. There are enough FA WR's and enough depth at WR in the draft to ensure the loss of Desean will take a minimal toll. And by looking at the FA options and some of the options in the draft we could actually end up improving our situation moving into the future by letting him walk and taking the initial hit now and letting a young guy grow and develop past what we had with Jackson.
Or we could sign him, he'll grow a set and actually make some plays in 2012. If he signs here I think the Eagles will ensure that if he doesn't produce in 2012 that the hit is minimal when we dump his ass.