As training camp approaches, New Eagle's Coach Chip Kelly has a decision to make regarding slot receiver Jason Avant. Avant is currently the longest tenured skill position player on this Eagles roster and has made catch after catch to cement himself as a favorite among the Philadelphia faithful.
Avant, who turned 30 in April, consistently has some of the strongest and most reliable hands in the league. During the 2012 season, Avant had fifty-three receptions without a single drop and was the only player in the league to do so last season. Of course, who could forget the one handed catch he made Week 14 vs. the Buccaneers along the sidelines.
Jason Avant One Handed Catch (via Chew TheDirt)
Avant thought his career has never been a "burner" so to speak or dynamic in any way. The offense Chip Kelly wants to run is definitely going to be more fast paced and dynamic than any Eagle offense of the past. Avant probably is not best suited to be a part of this offense because of his contrasting skill set as well as his age. Avant has two years left on his five year deal signed in 2010 that average $2.1 million per season. The Eagles definitely have options at that position who are younger and will fit the offense better than Avant in second year quickster Damaris Johnson.
Damaris Johnson had a small (pun intended) role in the offense last year as Avant's backup. At 5'8", Johnson is not the biggest player on the field but he plays like it. He had only 19 receptions for 256 yards but showed immense potential as a playmaker. He is hard to bring down after the catch and turned heads with his 98-yard punt return for a TD against Dallas. Johnson can be the versatile weapon in an offense coached by one of the finest offensive minds in football, Chip Kelly. Johnson has experience at both receiver spots, tailback and both returner spots. From a skill position standpoint, there isn't much more you could do.
Damaris showed at times why he is the all-time NCAA leader in total yards and will have eyes on him to make a sophomore jump in his second year. Will it be enough of a jump to surpass Avant on the depth chart or will the Eagles decide to keep their reliable veteran? Only training camp will tell.