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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