Carson Wentz is the big winner in DeSean Jackson trade

Carson Wentz is the big winner in DeSean Jackson trade

We all know how happy DeSean Jackson is to be coming back to Philadelphia. I’m thinking his phone battery probably died during his celebration that went on for hours after the news broke. He reposted congratulatatory messages, posted old photos of him in an Eagles jersey and shot video of his Madden stats after he clearly traded himself back to the Eagles in an attempt to catch up to real life. 

In that Madden game, as you might have guessed, DeSean showed off that he caught 12 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns. But he also showed Carson Wentz’s stats: 404 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad. 

Which brings us to this point: The only person who was probably as happy as DeSean on Monday had to be Wentz. 

First, he found out he’s getting his Hall of Fame left tackle back. Then he found out he’s getting a deep threat, the likes of which he’s never had before. 

Yeah, pretty much, Carson. Just throw it deep. 

Because Jackson isn’t just a good deep threat; he’s one of the best deep threats in NFL history. 

And even at 32-years-old, he’s still gives the exact element the Eagles have been so desperately missing from their offense. 

Since the Eagles drafted DeSean in 2008, he leads the NFL with 40 catches of 50-plus yards. The next closest player in that span (Mike Wallace) has just 26. Even if you just counted DeSean’s 24 touchdown catches of 50-plus yards, he would still be second in the league. 

Now, of course, Jackson is 32 and there’s some risk involved. He’s a receiver whose whole career has been based around speed. (He has more than that, by the way; he’s one of the best deep-ball trackers in NFL history.) 

So how much does Jackson have left? It’s a valid question. 

But based on what he did in 2018, there’s reason to think he still has more to give. 

• In 12 games in 2018, Jackson caught 41 passes for 774 yards and four touchdowns.

• He led the NFL in average yards per reception (18.9) for the fourth time in his career. He also did it in 2010, 2014 and 2016, which means he has done it in all three stops. 

• Jackson caught three 50-yard passes in 2018. The Eagles had just seven. 

• Jackson caught five 40-yard passes in 2018. The Eagles had just nine. 

And according to the NFL’s Next Gen stats, Jackson was second in the NFL in targeted air yards (19.1) in the league 2018. The NFL explains TAY: “This stat indicates how far down the field they are being targeted on average.” The closest Eagles on the list were Alshon Jeffery (10.8) and Nelson Agholor (10.5). 

So while Agholor has become a deep threat of sorts, it’s not in the same way as Jackson. 

Really, the best pure outside deep threat Wentz has had since he’s been in Philadelphia was Torrey Smith. And even Smith wasn’t very good in 2017, catching just six passes of 20-plus yards. Wallace was supposed to be that deep threat in 2018, but he got injured early and missed most of the season. 

Remember DGB and Bryce Treggs? Well … now Wentz has DeSean Jackson. He’s come a long way. 

And even though some think Wentz didn’t get the ball down field as much as Nick Foles in 2018, that’s not true (see story). Wentz actually averaged more yards per attempt and now he’ll have someone to help him even more down the field. 

Eventually, Wentz is going to get that mega contract extension and he’s going to outlast Jackson in Philly by many years. But for at least the next few seasons, these two could become lethal together.

I’m guessing Wentz has a big ol’ smile on his face right now. And maybe he already traded for DeSean in Madden too. 

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Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

The offseason marches on with your questions. 

I already answered your first bunch, including questions on Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi and running backs in the draft. Now, it’s time for Part 2 of 3. 

Let’s get to it: 

I got a few questions about Nate Sudfeld this week and I certainly understand why. He’s now the Eagles’ backup quarterback and Carson Wentz has finished the last two seasons on the shelf. I think there are legitimate reasons for concern. From the time the Eagles got Sudfeld, I thought he was a possible QB2. The problem here is that he is unproven; we haven’t seen much of him outside of summer practices and minimal game action. It’s somewhat of a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to go into a season with an unproven backup, especially because of Wentz’s injury history. 

But, to be clear, I like what I’ve seen from Sudfeld. He seems to be pretty athletic and has a big arm. The Eagles have shown how much they like him at every turn. This is one of those situations where I’m skeptical, but just kind of trust their evaluation. 

I don’t think the Curry signing affects Long’s decision as much as it tells us the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Long isn’t back. You have to remember, Curry can play inside and outside, so he might not take as many reps from Long as you think. We’ll see what happens soon with the draft. Long has said he doesn’t want to return as just a locker room guy and a high draft pick would take even more playing time away from him. The Eagles should hope he returns, though. Even at his age, he’s still a productive pass rusher. 

This is one of the big ideas I want to ask Doug Pederson about next week at the owners meetings. The Eagles now have a bunch of different pass catching options. They have a really talented trio of receivers to go along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Even though Goedert is a really impressive young player, it’s hard to imagine he would be left out at times. The Eagles didn’t trade for DeSean Jackson to sit him on the bench and they aren’t pay Nelson Agholor over $9 million this season to be a spectator. And Alshon Jeffery is going to play. 

It’s a good problem to have, but Pederson needs to figure out a way to get everyone involved. It might be a nightmare for fantasy football owners, though, because I think the game plan will change based on the matchups from week to week. Some weeks they’ll go heavy 11 personnel, but I wouldn’t rule out heavy 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field sometimes too. 

I don’t. I do agree that running back and linebacker are their two most pressing needs, but I just wouldn’t use a top pick on a linebacker. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I think it’s much more likely they leave the first two days of the draft with a running back instead of a linebacker. I still believe the Eagles will use No. 25 on a lineman (offense or defense) and will then look at running back with one of their second-round picks. I think they use a Day 3 pick on a linebacker unless they really think they found tremendous value. 

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Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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