As the Eagles count down the days until March 9 and the start of NFL free agency, finding weapons--both on the open market and NFL Draft--for quarterback Carson Wentz is paramount to future success.
Doing it the right way is another story.
With the Bears reportedly allowing wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to hit the open market, the possible connection to the Eagles will grow stronger and stronger over the next week.
The 27-year-old is talented, clearly one of the top wide receivers available and possessing game-breaking talent. But he comes with big risk after a suspension, down year and time missed with injures.
Here's why Jeffery is still worth a free-agent pursuit from the Eagles:
Big-time wide receivers cost big-time money.
As rumors about potential free-agent dollar figures emerge, one thing is clear: A good group of wide receivers is likely to be overpaid. While paying Jeffery millions on a long-term deal is scary, I'd rather invest in a player that's shown Pro Bowl ability and career-long (18th all-time in yards per game) success.
If the math is Jeffery for, say, $16M per season or Kenny Stills for $12M, the Eagles should pay extra for the player closer to a true No. 1 target.
Can't do it all in the draft.
Every NFL fan wants to build through the draft. It's smart and leads to success. But it also requires immense patience and some luck. The Eagles have many needs. Heading into the NFL Draft without the presence of a No. 1 target in the passing game is a bad idea, and could lead to Philadelphia bypassing a much-needed cornerback in order to hope on a young wide out.
Every option comes with risk.
DeSean Jackson is probably the most known quantity on the market. He'll take the top off the defense, but how long will the 30-year-old hold his speed? Is Stills worth as much as he'll likely command? How good is Terrelle Pryor? Is Kenny Britt about to become a star or just coming off a well-timed good year before free agency?
Jeffery is one positive PED test away from a 10-game suspension and has missed 11 games over the last two seasons. But when every option comes with risk, that can't be the reason to overlook this kind of talent.
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Look at what the Giants did for Eli Manning.
In Philadelphia, it's all about Wentz.
As the Eagles look to give the young, franchise quarterback skill players to succeed with, the team should look back to what the rival Giants did in 2005 after Manning's rookie season.
New York landed free agent Plaxico Burress--a big, talented, yet inconsistent star from the Steelers.
Take a look at Jeffery's career and Burress' (heading into the 2005 season) side-by-side:
-Jeffery (2012-2016): 304 receptions, 4,549 yards, 15.0 yards per catch, 26 TD, two 1,000-yard seasons, headed into free agency at age 27.
-Burress (2000-2004): 261 receptions, 4,164 yards, 16.0 yards per catch, 22 TD, two 1,000-yeard seasons, headed into free agency at age 27.
Burress thrived with Manning, giving New York's young quarterback the No. 1 target he needed. While Burress' career--and life--when off the rails in 2008, he helped the Giants win Super Bowl XLII and Manning grow into a star.
Jeffery is a risk, but he can be worth it for the Eagles this offseason.What Eagles need to accomplish at NFL Combine
Joe Giglio may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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