If the Eagles are without DeSean Jackson for any or all of the next football season, which certainly seems within the realm of possibility at this point, there’s one person on their roster who has a similar skill set.
But he comes along with a ton of question marks.
Marquise Goodwin is definitely not DeSean Jackson, but at his best, when he’s healthy — which hasn’t been very often — he can do some of the same things as Jackson.
Over the past four years, Goodwin has only four fewer catches of at least 40 yards than Jackson, and in his one full season, he was among the league’s best big-play practitioners.
In their statement Friday, the Eagles made it clear that if Jackson doesn’t commit to showing genuine growth following what the team called “absolutely appalling” social media posts, he’s gone.
If the Eagles are forced to play regular-season games without Jackson, Goodwin could turn out to be a huge addition.
Jackson of course is one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history. His 31 career TDs of 50 yards or more are second only to Jerry Rice.
Over the last four years, Jackson has 13 catches of at least 40 yards — including two long TDs against the Redskins on opening day last year, his only significant action of the year. Goodwin during the same four-year span has nine 40-yard catches. Only 14 receivers have more during that stretch.
Jackson’s career average of 17.4 yards per catch is highest among active receivers and highest in the NFL over the last 35 years. But Goodwin is 5th on that list at 16.6, behind only Jackson, Josh Gordon (17.2), Mike Williams (17.1) and Kenny Golladay (16.8), with a minimum of 100 catches.
Goodwin, acquired for virtually nothing in a draft-weekend trade with the 49ers, is one of only 11 active players with more than one career 80-yard touchdown. He also has TDs of 67, 67, 59 and 55 yards.
So his resume is solid. He’s fast and he’s a deep threat. He can score from anywhere on the field.
And he’s an Eagle.
The problem is injuries.
Lots of them.
He missed four games in 2013 with a broken hand. He missed six games in 2014 with a concussion and hamstring and rib injuries. He missed 14 games in 2015 with a rib injury. He suffered three more concussions in 2016 and a fifth in 2017. He missed five games in 2018 with injuries and seven last year with a knee injury.
He’s only managed 30 or more snaps in 13 games the last two years.
The only time Goodwin played 16 games was in 2017 with the 49ers, and he had a career-high 962 yards, finished 3rd in the NFL at 17.2 yards per catch and had five 40-yard catches — 7th-most in the league.
But in his six other seasons he’s averaged 14 catches and 226 yards. He has only 35 catches for 581 yards over the last two seasons, although he does have 5 TDs.
So which Goodwin did the Eagles get?
The one who is one of the NFL’s top deep threats or the one who’s often injured and can’t stay on the field?
The Eagles have had a hard time keeping anybody healthy lately, so relying heavily on a guy with such a long injury history is a risk.
But when it comes to stretching the field, there aren’t a lot of options.
Alshon Jeffery has 20 career receptions of at least 40 yards, but 17 were with the Bears, none since 2018. And we don’t even know when he’ll be healthy enough to play.
Greg Ward had a promising start last year but he’s an inside slot guy and had only had one catch longer than 15 yards last year, a 38-yarder against the Cowboys that set up a Miles Sanders TD.
Deontay Burnett only played 15 snaps last year and had a 41-yard catch against the Giants, but who knows if he’ll even make the team. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is more of a big-frame possession guy than a deep threat and of his 10 passes as a rookie none were longer than 30 yards.
Jalen Reagor has the potential to be a big-play threat, but he’s still an unknown quantity, a rookie without offseason programs and perhaps without preseason games. Quez Watkins and John Hightower are speedy, but it’s never easy for late-round rookies to get on the field, more so this year.
The reality is the Eagles need Jackson on the field. A healthy Goodwin is the next-best option. But based on his recent history it’s not one they can depend on.
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