Five years after his release, DeSean Jackson is returning to the Eagles in a trade with Tampa Bay.
Was it a good move? Each of our four Eagles writers gives his take.
I’m not completely sold on this move. Yes, it makes the offense better having one of the NFL’s elite deep threats. We’ve all seen what DeSean Jackson can do. And he’s still doing it in his 30s — you saw the 75-yard touchdown against the Eagles last season and he led the NFL with 18.9 yards per catch. He’s a bona-fide big-play threat for an offense that needed one.
But I wonder if there’s some sentiment attached to this decision — both at the NovaCare Complex and among the fan base. Jackson hasn’t played 16 games in a season since he left Philadelphia after the 2013 season; he’s topped 800 receiving yards just once in the past four seasons.
There will undoubtedly be highlights, but I’m not convinced there will be game-to-game consistency. Still, the Eagles don’t need him to be their top weapon when they have so many other options in the passing game, which is why I’m not down on the move. They needed a vertical threat, and Jackson does that as well as anyone.
The question, then, is whether the Eagles could have done better in filling that outside receiver spot. I’ll be able to answer that question better when all the chairs are filled during the next few days. Let’s see what Tyrell Williams gets on the open market. If Devin Funchess’ contract with Indianapolis was any indication, the Eagles locked in Jackson at a reasonable price. But it’s important to view Jackson for what he is in 2019 — not for what he was in 2009.
My biggest concern with DeSean Jackson at 32 is durability, but I still welcome the move. I’ll get to football reasons in a minute, but first, what really matters: This is great for me, Les Bowen. Excellent story lines throughout the spring, summer and fall. Provocative takes every week from DeSean. Color. The DeSean-Carson Wentz marriage is going to be popcorn-worthy. Doug Pederson standing at the lectern, “Well I think what DeSean really meant to say is that he knows there is only one ball and a lot of talented receivers in our room ...”
Football-wise, yes, I know the Eagles aren’t getting the same guy Chip Kelly banished five years ago. They don’t need him to be that. They have Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery, probably Nelson Agholor. They need a deep threat, and that, DeSean has always been. You’ll see it written that he hasn’t approached his 2013 Eagles numbers during his five-year tour with the Redskins and the Bucs. He also hasn’t been with a real franchise QB during that time, playing for a true Super Bowl contender. We’ll see.
Could he be disruptive? I guess. It kind of impresses me that management is confident Wentz and the locker room can handle the DJax personality. But in this, as well, it’s important to remember that it isn’t 2013. Zach Ertz is the best receiver on the team. DeSean is here to play a role. We haven’t seen how the contract is structured, but if he doesn’t want to play it, I assume the Eagles will quickly move on.
I would still be willing to draft a receiver early this year; the more talent, the merrier. DeSean’s durability is a big question. But overall my take is that the Eagles filled a pressing need and gave up almost nothing to do it. And they gave me stuff to write about. Hard not to like that.
Yeah, I’m just not feelin’ this one at all. And the fact that Sielski likes the trade makes me even more convinced I’m on the right side of this argument.
Of all the fast guys in all the world, why did they want this guy back? Is this one last Howie Roseman shot at Chip Kelly?
This isn’t 2013. It’s 2019. DeSean is 32 going on 33 now. Yeah, he still can run a decent 9 route every now and then. But so can a lot of guys they could’ve pursued.
The only good thing about Jackson’s getting older is that he’s matured a little bit. He’s not the petulant child he once was, or so they say. But he’s also not exactly a locker-room leader, either.
Let’s see how happy Carson Wentz is about the Jackson trade after he fails to target him in a couple of games.
Wentz and the Eagles thrive on situational football. But that’s not Jackson’s thing. He’s never been much of a third-down factor. He hasn’t had more than 11 third-down catches in a season since, well, since his last year with the Eagles in ‘13.
And he’s been virtually invisible in the red zone most of his career. He had zero red-zone receptions last year with the Bucs. He has just 12 career red-zone touchdowns, only four in the last five years.
And we’ll have to see how much he helps the Eagles vertically. He had just eight catches of 25 or more yards last season. You know who else had eight? Nelson Agholor.
Oh, and Jackson isn’t exactly Mr. Durability, either. He’s missed 13 games the last four seasons with a lengthy list of ailments. He’ll fit right in, in the Eagles’ crowded training room.
I’m split. The Eagles addressed their glaring need for a home-run hitter, and Jackson should be an upgrade over Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace (not hard), even at age 32. They gave up little in the trade with the Bucs and restructured his contract so that they’re not taking the $10 million cap hit they would have taken in the last year of his existing deal. But the Eagles will be on the hook for some money beyond this season and you have to wonder how much Jackson has left in the tank and if he’ll be happy as a role player.
He was still stretching defenses last season and averaged an NFL-best 18.9 yards per catch. But he’s not as fast as he was in his first go-round with the Eagles, and if he loses another step, what else is there? The Eagles have struggled on deep balls for most of the last three seasons. Some of that falls on the receiver personnel, but Carson Wentz has yet to show that he has a superior long-ball touch. Will Jackson help the quarterback, or will he grow frustrated with the deep misses?
Wentz is the most talented quarterback Jackson will have throwing to him in his entire career, and that includes Donovan McNabb. So there’s that. But I wonder how his surliness will go over in a locker room that has mostly been devoid of drama since Doug Pederson became head coach. I’m sure DeSean has matured, but most tigers can’t change their stripes. He’s never loved to practice. He can be a squeaky wheel, and was that way in Tampa. And he brings with him off-the-field baggage that can be a disruption.
I don’t think DeSean is a bad guy. The Eagles, when Chip Kelly ran him out of town and the PR staff abetted a hit piece that cast Jackson as some gangster thug, did him a disservice when he was released five years ago. But I wonder how much settling old scores factored into Howie Roseman’s decision to bring back No. 10 (if Mack Hollins agrees to give up his current uniform number). Call me skeptical.