The Philadelphia Eagles won’t have Alshon Jeffery for the rest of the 2019 season after placing him on injured reserve. Jeffrey’s Lisfranc injury — which Doug Pederson confirmed will require surgery — potentially might impact his availability next year as well.
The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reports that Jeffery’s recovery “should take about nine months.” Assuming that timetable holds true, Jeffery could conceivably be on the field in September 2020. But one must wonder if it’ll take even longer for Jeffery to return. It might not be an apples-to-apples comparison but Jalen Mills suffered a foot injury in October 2018 and wasn’t able to play until 12 months later.
Even if Jeffery is ready to play early next season, just how effective will he be? The veteran wide receiver turns 30 in February and he’s coming off his least productive season since he was a rookie back in 2012. He likely won’t have much of an offseason to get into football shape, which has been an issue for several Eagles players in recent years. Brandon Graham got off to a slow start while coming off injury in 2018. Same deal for Fletcher Cox in 2019.
All of this presupposes Jeffery will actually be back with the Eagles in 2020? Do we really know that’ll be the case? Does the team want to bring back a player who was accused by Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin of being the source behind anonymous Carson Wentz criticism?
It seems worth noting that former Eagles president Joe Banner doesn’t expect Jeffery to be back in 2020. On the latest BGN Radio episode, my co-host Jimmy Kempski said he doesn’t expect Jeffery to be back, either. I can tell you that things that I’ve been told throughout the season do not contradict those sentiments.
The problem is that it doesn’t make financial sense to move on from Jeffery considering cutting him would create a whopping $26,106,000 in dead money, per Over The Cap. If the Eagles want to waive Jeffery with an injury settlement, his side would need to agree with that route, and the expensive cost would still count against the Eagles’ cap.
Trading Jeffery seems like the most realistic way of being able to unload his contract. It would have to be an NBA-style salary dump where the Eagles would actually attach an asset — such as a draft pick — in order to trade him. The Los Angeles Rams executed this type of move when they sent Aqib Talib — who was their injured reserve list — and a draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in order to move off his salary. The Houston Texans also unloaded Brock Osweiler’s contract by trading him and two draft picks to the Cleveland Browns back in 2017.
The benefit of trading Jeffery as opposed to cutting him would be to “only” be on the hook for $16,196,000 in dead money as opposed to the $26,106,000 figure. That’s nearly a difference of $10 million. That’d be making the most out of a crappy situation that Howie Roseman put the Eagles in by inexplicably guaranteeing Jeffery’s 2020 salary prior to the 2019 season.
The Eagles have much to consider when it comes to the state of their wide receiver position this offseason. Beyond the Jeffery situation, they have a 33-year-old DeSean Jackson who’s coming off a season in which he really only played one game due to a sports hernia. How much can they count on him moving forward? Nelson Agholor, meanwhile, is set to be a free agent and will likely move on to a new team. 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside has shown some potential but not enough to make anyone feel like he’s a sure bet to be a good player next season.
Having the NFL’s worst wide receiving corps has obviously factored into the Eagles’ struggles this season. They’ll have to find a way to prevent that from happening again in 2020 and it might not be so easy.
What should the Eagles do with Alshon Jeffery?
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