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Potential wide receiver free agent options for the Eagles

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This team needs some help.

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San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If you blinked at any point during the first quarter of Sunday’s 22-14 Eagles victory over the Bears, you likely missed DeSean Jackson’s grand return to the field after a six-week absence. The Birds’ lone speed threat and most dynamic playmaker was on the field for the length of time it takes to make and prepare a piece of lightly burned toast. He played four snaps and caught just one ball for five yards before leaving the field with an aggravation of his core muscle injury.

On the 94 WIP Morning Show Monday, Pederson once again sounded optimistic that Jackson could play in two weeks against the New England Patriots, after the team’s bye. Of course, this all has to be taken with a grain of salt. We’ve heard optimistic predictions all season, and it’s entirely possible we’ll never see Jackson on the field again in 2019 and if we do, that he’ll be a fraction of the player he was in Week 1. UPDATE: Jackson will have surgery and could be out for the rest of 2019.

In his absence, his fellow wideouts have not picked up the slack.

Folks, this is a problem and there is no in-house solution other than Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor suddenly remembering how to ball that is going to fix the mess at wide receiver. With that in mind, Pederson didn’t rule out the possibility of adding outside help.

Q: With the uncertainty around DeSean and maybe the production at wide receiver not being exactly where you’d like it, are you anticipating any moves this week at wide receiver?

DOUG PEDERSON: At this point, uh, something we’ll take a look at. We’ve gotta take a look at it, obviously. It’s real. We’re sort of at the halfway point, a game over the halfway point of our season. And we’ve got time this week to make these decisions. But we’ll take a look at it. But nothing right now.

So what’s available outside the organization now that the trade deadline has come and gone? It’s not exactly littered with primo choices.

Michael Crabtree

The 32-year-old former Niners star was cut by the talent-depleted Arizona Cardinals earlier this year after piling up just four catches and 22 yards. He was once an elite talent and as recently as 2018 had signed a three-year, $21 million deal with Baltimore, but the Ravens cut him anyway. Doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade.

Dez Bryant

After being unceremoniously dumped by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant latched on with the New Orleans Saints last year, but was lost for the season when the 30-year-old suffered an Achilles tear. He is supposedly recovered from the injury, but the guy hasn’t played professional football in two years, so how much can be expected of a player who was clearly on the downside of his career when he was two years younger and healthier?

Kelvin Benjamin

After a promising start to his career with the Carolina Panthers, Benjamin was traded to the Bills during the 2017 season, where he was an unmitigated flop. He was released after ‘18, with a catch rate of 35%, the worst in the league, and later that year appeared in a couple of games with the Chiefs, but did nothing. Sure, he’s still just 28, but sometimes bad is bad, no matter the age.

Martavis Bryant

Back in December, Bryant was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement from a previous ban under the Policy and Program for Substance Abuse. It was his third ban in four seasons. He would have to be reinstated again from the league, and the odds of all that happening in time for him to be a productive member of the Eagles are slim and none. And if the Eagles passed on Josh Gordon, why would they pursue Bryant?

Pierre Garcon

The 33-year-old wideout played eight games for the 49ers last year, caught 24 balls out of 46 targets for 286 yards and a touchdown. A Google News search of Garcon’s indicates he’s looking to find a buyer for his San Jose penthouse, so he may be otherwise engaged at the moment.

JJ Nelson

Nelson reportedly had a strong camp and exhibition season but got hurt in the Raiders’ Week 1 match-up against the Denver Broncos. He returned to action in Week 3 and caught a 29-yard TD pass on a flea flicker. However, he was a surprise inactive in Week 4 and was cut by the team a few weeks ago. Nelson would be an interesting receiver to invite in for a workout during the bye week. He’s 27 and he’s fast.

Jordan Matthews

Ah yes, you just knew Jordan’s name would appear on this list. After appearing in 14 games (three starts) with the Eagles last year (20 catches for 300 yards and 2 TDs), he signed a deal with San Francisco this off-season, was cut by the team, later re-signed and then cut again. He played one game and did not have a catch. He knows the team well, has a comfort level with Matthews and would take very little work to integrate into the lineup. This feels like the most likely scenario if the Eagles add someone from the outside.

Marken Michel

This would be a low-key, sleep-inducing move, but Michel did play well during the preseason and had this long bomb against the Titans’ second and third-stringers.

He probably doesn’t solve their problems, but is he better than Mack Hollins? It would be hard not to be, right?

Antonio Brown

Just stop it already.

...

At the end of the day, I’d bring in virtually anyone for a look. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it certainly won’t hurt the Eagles to take a look at some human beings running routes and catching footballs. Matthews still makes the most sense because of his existing relationship with Wentz and his familiarity with the offense, and Nelson is an intriguing idea as well. But the smart money is on the Birds just rolling with what they have and hoping they can recreate the 2003 offense here in 2019, as unexciting as that may be.