April 22, 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles are all but certain to replenish their wide receiver group in the 2020 NFL Draft, which will be stocked with young talent available to a team with a glaring need.
Still, DeSean Jackson is seemingly ready to go to bat for Alshon Jeffery, his injured and much-maligned teammate.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Jackson shared a photo of him and Jefferey celebrating after a touchdown during the first week of last season, the only game the veteran wideouts played together.
"He too old, he can’t run fast anymore, he always injured, he a bad teammate, always been against the odds..." Jackson wrote.
The remarks could easily be applied to Jackson, who's 33 and coming off an injury-riddled season cut short by surgery to a core muscle. Jackson, too, has been criticized in the past for his conduct off the field, which got him cut by former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, probably unfairly and unwisely.
In Jeffery's case, things have gone downhill for him in Philadelphia since the Eagles won Super Bowl LII.
A crucial drop in the playoffs against the Saints didn't help matters the following year, but Eagles fans largely had Jeffery's back after that debacle. The bigger issue is that Jeffery has been strongly implicated as the anonymous source who criticized quarterback Carson Wentz in comments to ESPN reporter Josina Anderson — on more than one occasion.
Even if you're able to put that aside, the Lisfranc injury Jeffery suffered last season would potentially keep him off the field to start the 2020 season, if the NFL is somehow able to safely play games amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Finally, Jeffery is owed a boatload of guaranteed money for the next two years of his contract, a situation that makes trading him a difficult prospect. The team reportedly tried to trade Jeffery before the start of last season — when he was healthy — and evidently couldn't find a solid return thanks to general manager Howie Roseman's blunder in restructuring his deal only a month earlier.
The organization clearly has had mixed feelings about what to do with Jeffery going forward. During an interview earlier this offseason, Roseman left open the possibility of Jeffery returning.
"Obviously, the elephant in the room is Alshon," Roseman said. "Alshon’s gotta get healthy. That’s the No. 1 priority for us and for him. He understands. He knows what’s being said about him. He understands that he has a lot to prove and he’s anxious to do that. So he’s not living in a bubble. He understands that."
With the NFL season mired in uncertainty, predicting the outcome for Jeffery at this stage would be no more than a guess. The Eagles could search for a trade partner in the draft, but Jeffery's contract and injury situation don't give the team much leverage. He played just 10 games last season and had the least-productive year of his career.
In the event that Jeffery does return to Philadelphia, having the support of his teammates will be an important step toward redeeming a tricky situation. Jackson's diplomacy may not smooth things over with fans, but it at least has a chance of diffusing some tension in the locker room.