The re-signing of Eagles wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin reunites them with DeSean Jackson, who is already under contract. That leaves the Eagles with three key wide receivers on the team. The question everyone asking now is: how will all three fit into the Eagles offense? BGN took a look how things might play out. But thinking about it more... maybe that's not the right question to ask. Perhaps the right question is: what do these moves mean for DeSean Jackson's future?
I've often downplayed the idea that the Eagles will trade Jackson this offseason, but I have to admit the team's urgency to re-sign Maclin and Cooper has me wondering. And now it seems like there's some speculation going around online that Jackson might not be in the Eagles plans moving forward. Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com touched on this topic in a post he released this morning. Jimmy makes a number of good points, including that the Eagles have a lot of cap space tied up in the receiver position. The idea of a Jackson trade, while hard to swallow at first, isn't totally impossible.
On the surface, this seems like a crazy proposition. DeSean Jackson is coming off a career year. The numbers don't lie: 82 receptions for 1332 yards (16.2 y/r), and 9 TD is some high quality production. Jackson accounted for over 32% of the team's passing yards and 28% of the passing touchdowns. According to a Pro Football Focus stat called "WR Rating", which shows the quarterback rating when a receiver is thrown at, Jackson ranked third in the league. Eagles quarterbacks (Vick and Foles) finished for a combined 124.4 QB rating when targeting Jackson.
But the motivation to move Jackson wouldn't be production related. Sometimes there are issues beyond the surface. Take note of this Howard Eskin tweet, in response to Kempski's column:
@JimmyKempski possibly trading DeSean Jackson is not connected 2 signings of Cooper and Maclin. Hear tm may b at that pt bcause of his drama— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) March 1, 2014
In other words, Eskin is hearing that the Eagles may be interested in cutting bait with Jackson due to his "drama." What drama, you ask? Well, there's the fact he said he definitely feels he's deserving of a raise shortly after the season ended. There's also the notion he doesn't get along with Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, as Kempski mentioned in his column.
It's hard to imagine what kind of value Jackson has even if this speculation is true. The talented receiver will turn 28 in December and he carries big cap numbers on his contract beyond the 2014 season: $12M in 2015, $10.5M in 2016. The Eagles might not get great return value in a trade. This isn't an uncommon concurrence, though. Look no further than the end of Asante Samuel's career in Philly. Samuel wore out his welcome and the team didn't want to keep his presence around, or his big contract, so they traded him to Atlanta for very little in return (a 7th round pick that became Bryce Brown). Then again, Samuel wasn't coming off a career year the way Jackson is.
Right now, all of this is simply speculation. There are no official reports on Jackson being on the trade block. But it seems like the idea is slowly emerging as a legitimate possibility.
Needless to say, this will be a very interesting Eagles offseason.