Alshon Jeffery

What if WR Alshon Jeffery can actually still play for the Eagles?

What if WR Alshon Jeffery can actually still play for the Eagles?

What if Alshon can still play?

We’re all just kind of assuming Alshon Jeffery will never catch another pass in an Eagles uniform. Will never dress for another Eagles game. Won’t even be here whenever the 2020 season does begin.

We talk about him like he’s already gone.

What if that’s not the case?

Listening to Carson Wentz’s conversation with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Thursday it struck me how seriously Wentz has been taking his relationship with Jeffery.

It would be easy for Carson to spend the offseason focused on Jalen Reagor, Marquis Goodwin and all the Eagles' new receivers and just leave Jeffery by the wayside. You wouldn't blame him if he did.

But Carson said Thursday he’s been in touch with Alshon this offseason and said Alshon’s rehab from a Lisfranc foot injury is going well and he’s excited to see Jeffery back on the field.

I feel confident in his ability to be back out there helping the team,” Wentz said. “I’m excited for that.

That says a lot about Wentz. That's true leadership. After everything that’s happened, there’s certainly reason for him to be wary of Jeffery and not include him in these offseason chats.

But he's treating Jeffery like a true member of the 2020 Eagles, and that's big.

It makes sense for the Eagles to try to get anything they can out of Jeffery and not just because they have to pay him whether or not he plays.

Every other wide receiver on the roster has a big giant question mark next to his name, whether it’s injury or inexperience. 

And there’s no one single reason Jeffery can’t once again be a productive NFL receiver.

It’s not like he’s 50. The dude is 30, the same age as Julio Jones.  

Why are we writing off Alshon? Because the salary, the injuries and the declining production just don’t point toward any sort of comeback.

But let’s look a little deeper.

We know what Alshon did during the 2017 Super Bowl season. 

But in 2018, he had 843 yards in 13 games with six touchdowns. That projects to a 1,000 yards if he played a few more games.

And last year in the eight games he actually played more than a handful of snaps, he had 43 catches for 490 yards and four TDs. 

Stay healthy? Double that? And you’re looking at 86-for-980 with eight TDs.

We would all take anything close to that in 2020 once he’s healthy.

The contract is the contract and there’s nothing the Eagles can do about that now.

The real issue with Jeffery - like so many Eagles the last few years - has been injuries. And there’s now a new medical and training staff in place that you certainly hope will make a difference.

Jeffery hasn’t been the Pro Bowler he was in Chicago during his three years with the Eagles and he won't be again. But when he’s been healthy he’s been functional and occasionally spectacular.

Really, Alshon is no different than any other Eagles receiver. 

We worry about DeSean’s age. Jalen Reagor missing OTAs. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s disappointing rookie year. Greg Ward’s inexperience. And Jeffery's health.

But we've seen Jeffery make plays. We know there's something there.

If he can get back, say, in early November and give the Eagles eight games of just decent production during that minefield of a second-half schedule it would be huge.

And that’s why what Wentz is doing this offseason is so important and so smart. Making sure his relationship with Jeffery is on solid ground so if Jeffery does get on the field, the two of them are pulling in the same direction.

Honestly? I still think the odds are pretty good Jeffery has played his last snap in an Eagles uniform. That’s a very tough injury to come back from.

But if he does manage to get healthy? 

Now you have a quarterback and a potential weapon who are in a good place mentally, and that should lead to production on the football field.

There are a lot of unknowns right now surrounding Jeffery and the NFL in general. But one thing we do know is that if Jeffery can run and catch, he can still help this football team.

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Carson Wentz says Alshon Jeffery is in good place, confident he’ll help Eagles

Carson Wentz says Alshon Jeffery is in good place, confident he’ll help Eagles

When it comes to the Eagles’ receiver position this offseason, Alshon Jeffery is still the “elephant in the room,” as GM Howie Roseman put it in March. 

Aside from the 30-year-old’s decline in production, bloated contract and recovery from a Lisfranc surgery, there’s the perception of a strained relationship with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. 

At every turn, Wentz has rejected that perception. 

That didn’t change on Thursday afternoon during an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark to promote the AO1 Foundation’s Day of Relief fundraiser on Friday. Wentz said he has been in contact with Jeffery this offseason. 

Yeah, I’ve talked with Alshon. Alshon’s doing well, obviously coming back from that injury. Hoping he can be himself and just keep on rehabbing. But I’m confident that he will. And he’s doing well. He’s in a good place and I feel confident in his ability to be back out there helping the team. I’m excited for that. Yeah, I’m excited for Alshon.

There had already been rumors of a strained relationship between Wentz and Jeffery for a while and then there was the ESPN story last season citing quotes from an anonymous player criticizing Wentz. Jeffery was eventually named as the source by Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin. Jeffery denied it, but there’s no way to know for sure. 

Back in December, Wentz said publicly that he had a “great relationship” with Jeffery, adding, “I love that guy.” 

And in March, Roseman made it clear — at least publicly — that Jeffery figured into the team’s plans for the 2020 season, saying they needed him to get healthy. 

“Alshon’s gotta get healthy,” Roseman said. “That’s the No. 1 priority for us and for him. He understands. He knows what’s being said about him. He understands that he has a lot to prove and he’s anxious to do that. So he’s not living in a bubble; he understands that.”

While Jeffery’s name surfaced in plenty of trade rumors and reports leading up to the draft in April, he’s still on the team well into May. Because Roseman last offseason guaranteed Jeffery’s 2020 salary, it would be understandable if it was hard to find a taker in a trade. So even if the Eagles wanted to trade Jeffery, they might not have had any good options. 

The lasting image of the 2019 season happened just outside the Eagles’ locker room on cleanout day. As reporters exited the locker room, there was a concussed Wentz and Jeffery on a Roll-A-Bout, having a friendly conversation. To some skeptics, it seemed like a plant, too perfect to be real. 

But if the Eagles really are going to try to get something out of Jeffery in 2020, his relationship with Wentz will be vital. 

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NFL Odds: Where DeSean Jackson, Nick Foles stand in Comeback Player award race

NFL Odds: Where DeSean Jackson, Nick Foles stand in Comeback Player award race

If and when the NFL's 2020 regular season begins, the league won't be short on storylines, including a number of notable comeback stories.

Outside of the biggest names - like Ben Roethlisberger and Rob Gronkowski - there are a few intriguing players with Eagles ties who could be good value bets.

Former Eagles quarterback and Philadelphia legend Nick Foles is listed as Top 7 option for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award across FanDuel, DraftKings, and FoxBet's lines. 

Foles, who missed essentially the entire 2019 season in Jacksonville with a broken collarbone, saw his odds jump this week after the Bears declined to pick up Mitch Trubisky's fifth-year option, which likely showed the team's hand in the upcoming "quarterback competition" between Foles and Trubisky.

If Foles manages to lead the Bears back to the playoffs as the starter, it's entirely possible he'd be among the leading contenders for the award, which would be pretty neat.

Elsewhere, Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson - who, like Foles, suffered an early injury in 2019 and never returned to form - is a solid dark horse option. He's tied for 13th at FanDuel, 12th at DraftKings, and tied for 12th at FoxBet. Jackson had an insane Week 1 return with the Eagles last season, and was on pace for an (obviously unsustainable) 128 catches, 2,464 yards, and 32 touchdowns after one game.

If he's fully healthy in 2020 and puts up 40 percent of that, Jackson is probably up there as one of the best value bets in the field.

Jackson was seen in late April running his first routes since core surgery last fall:

One other Eagles wide receiver is also kind of being considered for the award: Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery is tied for 15th at FanDuel, is 23rd at FoxBet, and isn't on the board at DraftKings. So, definitely a long shot, but if he wins, you'd feel like a genius.

Here's a full recap of their odds as of May 5:

Foles
FanDuel: +1400
DraftKings: +2000
FoxBet: +1500

Jackson
FanDuel: +5000
DraftKings: +2500
FoxBet: +3400

Jeffery
FanDuel: +6000
DraftKings: N/A
FoxBet: +7100

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