Eagles Insider

How close is Jeffery to returning?

Eagles Insider

Hang on, help is on the way.

It won’t be Sunday, and it might not be next Sunday. But at some point fairly soon, Alshon Jeffery will be back playing football again.

(Barring a setback. Which around here ... hey, who knows?)

But everything points to Jeffery being ready to return to action within the next few weeks, and that should provide a big lift to an Eagles wide receiving corps that just lost promising rookie Jalen Reagor until November and hasn’t gotten a catch yet from last year’s second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside or this year’s fifth-round pick John Hightower.

Jeffery, now 30, last played on Dec. 9, when he suffered a foot sprain during the Eagles’ win over the Giants at the Linc.

He underwent surgery and spent the offseason on the PUP list, but when the Eagles made final cuts on Sept. 5, they elected to activate him and put him on the 53-man roster instead of placing him on regular-season PUP.

Had he been on PUP, he wouldn’t have counted against the 53, but he would have missed at least the first six games of the season. The decision to activate him meant he would count against the 53 but would be available as soon as he was healthy.

That move was the first sign that the Eagles expected Jeffery back at some point within the first four or five weeks of the season.

If you don't, you keep him on PUP and save a roster spot.

 

The Eagles face the 49ers in Santa Clara in Week 4, the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 5 and the Ravens at the Linc in Week 6.

The Steelers game — Oct. 11 — would be almost exactly 10 months since the injury and seems to be a realistic goal — if he’s not ready by the 49ers game.

Jeffery isn’t practicing yet, but he was out at practice Wednesday with a helmet doing some footwork drills on the sideline as his teammates prepared for the Bengals game Sunday.

Doug Pederson has steadfastly declined to put a timetable on Jeffery, but continues to say, “He’s doing very well.”

What kind of Jeffery will we see when he does return?

Jeffery caught only 43 passes for 490 yards and four TDs in parts of 10 games last year.

But take a closer look at his 2019 season.

Jeffery suffered a calf injury in the Week 2 game in Atlanta and missed two games, but during the six-game stretch between injuries, he averaged six catches for 67 yards. Not too shabby.

Jeffery was a Pro Bowler in 2013 with the Bears and had a second straight 1,000-yard season in 2014. He had a miracle TD catch with a torn rotator cuff in the Super Bowl, and his production in 2018 was OK — 65 yards per game before his injury-plagued 2019.

Considering that right now, DeSean Jackson is the Eagles' only receiver with more than 35 career receptions, Jeffery gives them a second experienced presence that they just don’t have right now.

They don't need Pro Bowl Jeffery.

Even if he’s just the guy he's been when healthy the last couple years, that’s five catches for 64 yards per game, and that’s production the Eagles could desperately use.

What about Jeffery's relationship with Carson Wentz?

It’s a fair question, but even if Jeffery was the snitch that took anonymous shots at Wentz — and that’s widely assumed but never proven — that was two years ago, and Wentz and Jeffery have both publicly said everything is fine between them.

If Jeffery practices next week, I would guess he’d be inactive one more week and then play against the Steelers. A week earlier or later is possible.

The Eagles need receivers, and love him or hate him, Jeffery is the best option out there.

You’re not going to find an Alshon Jeffery on the waiver wire, on the street or on a practice squad.

The Eagles are paying him a fortune — $582,941 per week.

The sooner they get something back in exchange for all that cash, the better.