This past spring, the familiar sight of a “Jackson” jersey was erased from the memory of Eagles and everywhere. The speed-demon had been banished to the underworld, leaving a visible hole in the Eagles offense. Jackson’s departure also left a major hole in the Eagles’ salary cap, wiggle room they would have been wise to take advantage of.
Now, they finally have their chance.
Recently, NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport declared on nFL Total Access that the Buccaneers are fielding a “ton of calls” for the three-time Pro Bowler. Tampa Bay has endured a dismal 1-5 season thus far, and seems to be going nowhere fast. Additionally, the buccaneers wouldn’t mind dumping Jackson’s $10 million salary, especially with rookie mike Evans ready to blossom.
The Eagles would be wise to inquire about the playmaker. Following the Eagles’ victory over Washington, Chip Kelly definitively said: “We wanted to get bigger at the wide receiver spot, especially in the slot.” Kelly cited the fact that it would create favorable match ups, since slot corners (such as Brandon Boykin) tend to be on the smaller side. Thus, Kelly likes putting bigger players, such as Jordan Matthews, against the shorter corners.
Vincent Jackson would fit the mold of big slot receiver. Jackson is best known for making catches using his large frame, something Riley Cooper has struggled to do consistently. Jackson often makes full-stretch catches, as well as plays in traffic across the middle. Against the typical 5ft 11in slot corner, Jackson would pose a 6-inch size advantage. That’s one Subway sandwich Chip Kelly would love to take a bite out of.
Additionally, Jackson reintroduces the deep threat back into the offense. Kelly never explicitly said he didn’t enjoy DeSean Jackson’s knack for deep plays, and has tried to go long on several occasions this year. At one point, Nick Foles was leading the league with attempted deep throws. The Eagles have been trying to hit on a few of these to soften the defenses, and assist LeSean McCoy in creating running lanes. Jackson is much more likely to haul in a “mediocre” deep ball from Foles, and push the secondary back to stop this threat.
Financially, Jackson’s contract makes acquiring him doable under the salary cap. With the $16 million the Eagles hold in cap space, the team could take in Jackson’s 2014 salary and still leave about $6 million for emergency purposes. Going forward, Jackson has two years remaining on his deal. If the Eagles decide to cut the 32-year old after 2015, the team would save around $13 million heading into 2016. Alternatively, the team could release the underperforming Riley Cooper, and save about $5 million for next year. Jackson’s salary hovers around $10 million for the next few years, making his contract manageable.
Depending on required compensation, the Eagles should seriously consider signing Jackson. Howie Roseman should pull the trigger on anything below a second-round pick, and make a prospective investment on jackson instead of a retrospective one. The holes remaining on this Eagle offense would be plugged, and the high-flying offense could turn up another gear heading into a critical run of games.
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