The Eagles hope to overcome the loss of DeSean Jackson, but replacing a playmaking wide receiver can be difficult. Just ask the Ravens, who missed Anquan Boldin badly last season after trading him to the 49ers.
There are many differences between the two situations. But the bottom line is this. Proven NFL wide receivers do not grow on trees. Not receivers like Boldin and Jackson, who have both had multiple 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL.
Losing Boldin became even more difficult for the Ravens to handle, after Dennis Pitta suffered a hip injury during training camp that kept him out of action until December. The Ravens signed Steve Smith last month, hoping he will bring the kind of toughness, experience, and production they lost without Boldin.
The Eagles signed running back Darren Sproles during free agency, giving the Eagles an elusive playmaker as both a runner and a receiver. But the Eagles’ decision to cut Jackson at age 27, during the prime of his career, is the league’s most controversial offseason move. And the drama increases with Jackson joining the Redskins, one of the Eagles’ NFC East division rivals. At least the Ravens dealt Boldin out of the division and out of the AFC. The Eagles will have to deal with Jackson twice a year. Won’t that be fun?
Losing Jackson increases the likelihood that the Eagles will draft a wide receiver, and the upcoming draft is deep at that position. But for now, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is gambling that a major weapon in his offense can be replaced. That does not always work out. Just ask the Ravens.