DeSean Jackson is back with the Philadelphia Eagles. Will he be the dynamic receiver he was the first time around?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded WR DeSean Jackson to the Philadelphia Eagles for their 2019 sixth-round pick and a swap of 2020 seventh-rounders. With this deal, Jackson returns to the team that he spent his first six seasons in the NFL and was most successful.
In six seasons with the Eagles from 2008-2013, Jackson was a three-time Pro Bowler and established himself as a premier deep threat in the NFL. His best year was his final one in Philadelphia. He had 82 receptions, 1,332 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns – all career highs.
Now, on his way back to Philly as an 11-year veteran, he looks to add to a younger offense. According to Eagles coach Doug Pederson, Jackson will fit in nicely with the unit. Pederson had this to say about Jackson during the annual Owners meeting:
“Yeah, we are excited about DeSean. We know him, or I know him at least, from working with him before, and he’s dynamic, he’s exciting, he’s a game changer. But you know what? It’s just a matter of getting him in here and getting him comfortable with our offense. Things are a little different that way for him. Just getting in with Nelson (Agholor) and the guys, and Alshon (Jeffery), and Zach (Ertz). Just everybody on offense, Carson (Wentz). Just fitting in and getting comfortable. Picking up all the terminology. I’m just excited about him and what he can bring to our offense.”
Jackson should add value as a deep threat to Philadelphia’s offense. Ertz is clearly Wentz’s favorite target. He totaled 116 receptions last year, breaking the record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season. Jeffery offers a red zone target with his big frame. Agholor is the pest that will get open on third down. This leaves Jackson as the home-run hitter, sneaking behind safeties for huge gains in key moments in games.
Jackson still has the speed to get by defensive backs. He’s also a polished route runner and should be able to get open. He should also see single coverage most of the time as opposing defensive coordinators will be game planning to take away Ertz. That’s dangerous for opposing defenses as Jackson’s speed is still his biggest weapon. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash as a draft prospect and that speed hasn’t diminished over his career.
However, it is important to remember Jackson’s injury history. Since leaving the Eagles in 2013, he has failed to play all 16 games in a season. In order to contribute to the Eagles and for the offense to benefit from his presence, he will need to stay on the field. However, that is easier said than done. He is 32 years old.
Moreover, if he stays healthy, Jackson can change the dynamic of the Philadelphia Eagles offense. With their dynamic front seven and a full season from Wentz, Jackson and the receiving corps could pose a threat to the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East crown.