Eagles could look to draft for Jackson’s replacement

In happier times, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson celebrated touchdowns. The Eagles have released Jackson after he enjoyed a career-best season leading the team with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. — AP PHOTO/MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ, FILE

The Philadelphia Eagles will have to look long and hard to fill a big hole that was occupied by the little man the last seven years. The Eagles released Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson who is the team’s most explosive player. By letting Jackson go, the Eagles get nothing for him. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, is coming off his best season catching 82 passes for 1,332 yards and scoring nine touchdowns.

“After careful consideration over this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson,” that’s what the Eagles said in a prepared statement.

It’s hard to believe a player that talented has been sliced from a team which he played such a major role in helping them capture the NFC East title this season. The Eagles are going to have to come to grips with is the fact that his speed, open field moves and pass catching ability creative opportunities for the other receivers. Jackson commanded a double team. He usually drew coverage from the cornerback as well as the free safety. There aren’t many players that can open up the field like him.

Jackson, 27, a 2008 second-round draft pick out of California, has put together some impressive numbers during his playing days here. He has 356 career receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns. He can also return punts. Of course, Eagles fans will never forget his exciting 65-yard punt return against the New York Giants 2010, which produced one of the most thrilling comebacks in NFL history.

The Eagles can try to sign a veteran free agent, but you won’t find anybody out there with the Jackson’s playmaking ability. Chip Kelly, Eagles head coach, is left with wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Although Cooper had a fine year with 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns much of his success can be directly tied to Jackson being on the field. In regards to Maclin, he missed all of last season with a torn right ACL. He still has to get adjusted to Kelly’s fast-paced offense.

The Eagles next move could be the draft. Don’t be surprise if they focus on a wide receiver in the first round. They could take a look at wide receiver Mike Evans from Texas A&M. Evans played with All-American quarterback Johnny Manziel with the Aggies. He’s a big receiver with great speed who can go deep and catch passes over the middle. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, had 65 receptions for 1,322 yards and 12 TDs. He’s one of the best receivers in the draft. The Eagles will probably have to trade up in order to get him. But they may want to do that.

As for Jackson, it’s going to be interesting to see where he lands from here. He can definitely help somebody.

Contact Staff Writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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