Eagles banking on DeSean Jackson’s health to stabilize wide receiver position in 2020

The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t address the wide receiver position in free agency, a glaring need heading into the offseason. Philadelphia started a playoff game with a starting wide receiver group of Robert Davis and Greg Ward, with Deontay Burnett receiving the third-most snaps at the position. All three were on the team’s practice squad earlier in the year. 

The Eagles’ wide receivers were decimated with injuries in 2019, with Alshon Jeffery missing the final three games with a Lisfranc injury, Nelson Agholor missing the final four games with a knee injury and DeSean Jackson playing just 65 snaps with a sports hernia injury. 

Jackson’s injury impacted the Eagles the most as the offense severely missed the over-the-top deep threat all season, greatly impacting Carson Wentz’s ability to throw the football downfield. The Eagles need speed at wide receiver and still feel Jackson can provide that at 33. 

“DeSean is incredibly motivated to show our city, to show our fans how important it is for him to win, for him to show the skill level that we know he still has in his body,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a one-on-one interview with Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. “It’s incredibly unfortunate what happened to him. He played that first game at a superstar level.” 

Injuries have halted Jackson’s production the last two seasons, but he’s still dangerous when he takes the field. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ season-opening win over the Washington Redskins, but played just 14 snaps the remainder of the season. Jackson missed four games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, even though he led the league with 18.9 yards per catch at 32 years old. 

There’s no doubt Jackson can still make an impact in the Eagles offense, but the franchise is banking heavily on his health to strengthen a weak wide receiver unit that lacks speed. Jeffery is showing signs of decline and is questionable for Week 1 after coming off foot surgery and 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had just 10 catches for 169 yards even though he played all 16 games. 

Philadelphia is going to have to address wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft, even though Roseman appears confident Jackson will have the bounce-back season the franchise is hoping for. Banking on Jackson’s health is certainly a gamble at the moment, especially since the Eagles don’t currently have an insurance policy in case he goes down. 

“I think we have a good plan for DeSean and how to maximize his potential and his difference making ability,” Roseman said. “I know he is working right now. From the end of the season he was in our building when he could be, working really hard. He has a chip on his shoulder and obviously we are big fans of his and his talent level.”

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