Now that he's got his coaching staff in place, the top item on Andy Reid's to-do list is deciding what to do about DeSean Jackson.
I wrote about Jackson's place in the wide receiver market last week. I maintain that the Eagles' best option is to work out a long-term agreement with him, unless Jackson is being completely unreasonable with his demands.
But if they decide that's not going to happen, the next logical step is to look at free agents (guys like Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Marques Colston could be available).
Another option for the Eagles, if they choose to part ways with Jackson, is to draft a wide receiver.
A recent mock draft by Evan Silva and Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com has the Eagles taking Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright with the 15th pick:
The Eagles figure to look elsewhere if they re-sign free agent DeSean Jackson, but there are no guarantees after D-Jax's petulance caused in-season turmoil and his production sagged. Wright is a more versatile wideout than Jackson, having excelled both from the slot and out wide. With a 42-inch vertical and 4.3 speed, Wright is also the premier deep threat in this year's receiver class.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock has Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, Baylor's Wright, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery and Wake Forest's Chris Givens as his top-five wide receiver prospects.
But would any of those players be able to contribute immediately in the Eagles' offense?
Jackson, a second-round pick, had 62 catches for 912 yards as a rookie back in 2008. Jeremy Maclin had 55 catches for 762 yards in 2009.
Here's a chart of how first-round picks at wide receiver have fared in the past five seasons:
|A.J. Green (4th, 2011)||65
|Julio Jones (6th, 2011)||54
|Jonathan Baldwin (26th, 2011)||21
|Demaryius Thomas (22nd, 2010)||22
|Dez Bryant (24th, 2010)||45
|Darrius Heyward-Bey (7th, 2009)||9
|Michael Crabtree (10th, 2009)||48
|Jeremy Maclin (19th, 2009)||55
|Percy Harvin (22nd, 2009)||60
|Hakeem Nicks (29th, 2009)||47
|Kenny Britt (30th, 2009)||42||701
|Calvin Johnson (2nd, 2007)||48||756||4|
|Ted Ginn (9th, 2007)||34||420||2|
|Dwayne Bowe (23rd, 2007)||70||995||5|
|Robert Meachem (27th, 2007)||12||289||3|
|Craig Davis (30th, 2007)||20||188||1|
|Anthony Gonzalez (32nd, 2007)||37||576||3|
As you can see, there have been varying degrees of success among first-round wide receivers. Injuries, quarterback play and coaching all must be taken into account, but of the 17 wide receivers drafted in the first round since 2007, only one has had a 1,000-yard season as a rookie (Green).
Others - Bowe, Johnson, Britt, Nicks, Harvin, Maclin, Jones - were solid as rookies.
Jackson has averaged 1,061 yards per season since 2009. In other words, it's unlikely that the Eagles find a receiver in the draft to match that kind of production right away.
The 15-day period for using the franchise tag begins less than two weeks from today on Feb. 20. If the Eagles choose not to tag Jackson, and if they can't agree to terms on a long-term contract, he would become an unrestricted free agent on March 13.