If and when the Philadelphia Eagles and DeSean Jackson part ways after the 2011 season, the team will need to find a replacement for his services. As I’ve written about recently, it is highly unlikely that Jackson will be back in 2012.
Assuming that will be the case, will the Eagles look at any free agent wide receivers this offseason?
If we’re looking at 2012 as another season to “go for it”, I’m not comfortable with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper as the starting wide outs. Jason Avant is a good slot receiver but he’s not made to play on the outside. And the same goes for Steve Smith, if he even returns.
Therefore, I’d have to say that yes, the Eagles will be in the market for another wide receiver.
There are currently several good receivers who are slated to become free agents after this season. The list includes the likes of Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Marques Colston, Steve Johnson, and Mario Manningham.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, all of them will most likely be re-signed by their own teams. However, there are two players who stand a decent chance of actually hitting the open market:
San Diego’s Vincent Jackson and New Orleans’ Robert Meachem.
Obviously, there is a chance they will re-sign with their own teams as well but their circumstances may allow for a better chance of them becoming available.
In 2010, Vincent Jackson was entering the final year of his contract. He wanted a new deal and was prepared to sit out the season if he didn’t get one. He did end up sitting out for the first half of the year before finally signing his RFA tender and reported to the team.
Jackson was then franchise-tagged at the end of the 2010 season and that is what he is playing under this year. There have also been no reports of the Chargers signing him to an extension this season.
Furthermore, there is a good possibility that head coach Norv Turner is fired after this season and general manager A.J. Smith could be let-go as well.
Sometimes during these types of situations of change and/or uncertainty within an organization’s hierarchy, there can be a turnover in players as well. Vincent Jackson is a good player, but he isn’t so good that the Chargers have to make him a priority.
Plus, the two sides haven’t been able to agree on a new contract for two years now so they may just decide to part ways.
Jackson would be a great pairing with Jeremy Maclin. He has excellent size at 6′ 5″, 230 lbs and is a good athlete. He’s physical, fast, and would be great in the red zone.
The only knock on him is staying healthy, as he does seem to deal with nagging-type injuries often. But it’s not bad enough to where it should deter anyone from going after him.
If DeSean Jackson leaves and Vincent Jackson becomes available, I’d make him a high priority and do my best to land him. It would almost be as good as when the Eagles landed Terrell Owens.
Robert Meachem could also find himself on the open market. The Saints have the task of re-signing their franchise quarterback, Drew Brees, to a new lucrative long term deal.
Star wide receiver Marques Colston is also an impending free agent and he will be higher on the priority list than Meachem. The Saints have multiple weapons on offense and Meachem is their No. 3 receiver behind Colston and Lance Moore.
And with RB Darren Sproles and TE Jimmy Graham heavily involved in the passing game, Meachem is more like a luxury to the Saints rather than a necessity. It’s quite possible that he will want an opportunity to be a starter or get more playing time elsewhere.
Meachem has good size at 6′ 2″, 210 lbs and has been a productive receiver in the Saints’ offense. He’s a former first round draft pick that was well regarded coming out of college.
He injured his knee in his rookie year and missed all 16 games. In the past four years, Meachem has accumulated 134 catches for 2,142 yards and 22 TDs.
Though he could never seem to crack to starting lineup for the pass-oriented Saints, those are decent stats for a part-time player.
Meachem is not as fast as DeSean Jackson but does have decent speed (runs a 4.4 40-yard dash) and has an obvious size advantage over the diminutive Jackson. Though he wouldn’t be the “stud” receiver coming in, he would be an excellent addition to the receiving corps.
As noted previously, I fully expect DeSean Jackson to leave Philadelphia next year. Even if he plays well over the last three weeks of this season, his bridge has already burned down between him and the organization.
To be clear, I do not want Jackson to leave, I’m just saying that’s what is likely to happen. And when it does, the Eagles need to look for a replacement.
If Dwayne Bowe or Reggie Wayne become available, they’d be in this conversation as well. But, it’s Vincent Jackson and Robert Meachem as the more likely available candidates.
Vincent Jackson would be my first choice with Robert Meachem as a decent consolation prize.