ASHBURN, Va. - DeSean Jackson is a solid option to help address some of the well-documented ills the Eagles have at the wide receiver position. His current head coach in Washington will tell you that without even directly talking about Jackson's pending free agency.
"What he brings to this football team is something not a lot of people can bring," Jay Gruden said last week at Washington's practice facility. "That's obviously speed and big-play ability. When you're averaging 17, 18, 19 yards a catch in the National Football League that is quite a feat."
Jackson is 30, but if you look at the list of potential unrestricted free agents after the season, he still ranks among the leaders in yards per catch at 16.5, which is actually more than a yard under his career average.
"I think a lot of people think that we haven't utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team whether he catches three balls for 80 yards or one ball for 69," Gruden said. "He doesn't have to be a guy that catches 10 balls for 90 yards to have an impact on this team. His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He has been a major influence on this football team in a good way."
The question is whether Jackson will be the best option for the Eagles after the season, and the answer to that depends entirely on the money because they definitely have other positions that also need to be upgraded. Even though he's still productive and capable of a 1,000-yard receiving season, it's obviously a much better idea to get a young receiver still on the rise in free agency. They, of course, cost more.
If you're making a list of quality free-agent receivers still in their 20s, it is topped by Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback who has been terrific in his first year as a wide receiver. Pryor heads into Cleveland's game against Cincinnati Sunday with 62 catches for 855 yards and four touchdowns. Before this season, he had two career receptions, so there is obviously room for him to grow and, at 27, there is also time for him to do it.
Chicago's Alshon Jeffery, 26, was considered the top free-agent possibility at wide receiver for 2017 when this season started, but now he should be considered the dumbest after hindering his market value with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Jeffery is scheduled to return next Sunday, and if he had not sat out the last four weeks he'd probably be leading all potential free agents in receiving yards. His suspension could be beneficial for the team that signs him because it should drive the price down.
Kenny Britt, 28, was always a deep threat and a bit of an enigma during his time in Tennessee, but in his third season with the Rams he is having by far his best season. Timing is everything for free agents.
Pierre Garcon, Jackson's teammate in Washington, is also a potential free agent and the former Division III star has always been a terrific possession receiver. Like Jackson, he is 30 years old but still playing at a pretty high level.
There are others on the potential free-agent list that could help the Eagles, but that's mostly because they need so much help at the position.
As many as four receivers are projected to be taken in the first round of the draft, with Clemson's Mike Williams the best of the bunch. He will likely be gone by the time the Eagles make the pick they received from Minnesota for Sam Bradford. The best of the rest: John Ross from Washington, JuJu Smith-Schuster from Southern Cal, and Corey Davis from Western Michigan.
The Eagles will obviously spend a lot of time studying all of the above names when this season is over, and it's vital that they make the right decision to upgrade a position that has dragged them to the bottom of the NFC East. My pick would be Pryor because his upside is so tantalizing.
Tampa Bay could be the team nobody wants to face in the playoffs, because it appears quarterback Jameis Winston and the rest of the young Bucs have arrived. Tampa Bay has won four straight and six of its last eight to move into a first-place tie with Atlanta in the NFC South. Winston, still only 22 years old, had a 72.9 passer rating, a 58 percent completion percentage, eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions during the Bucs' 1-3 start. In eight games since, he has a 101.7 rating, a 64 percent completion percentage, 15 TD passes, and four interceptions. Winston also has two great receiving weapons in Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate. That duo has combined for 16 of Tampa Bay's 30 touchdowns.
Jeff Fisher got a contract extension. Jeff Fisher? The Los Angeles Rams coach? Honest to God, it happened. It will go down on the long list of factual stories being stranger than the fictional ones out there in Hollywood. By all accounts, Fisher is a nice man, but not even Johnnie Cochran could defend his record. Yes he took Tennessee to the Super Bowl, but that was at the turn of the century. His last playoff appearance was in 2008 with the Titans and his last playoff win was in 2003. His record since 2003 is 85-104 with two playoff appearances in 12 seasons.
Denver at Tennessee: This game has huge playoff implications for both teams. Denver, 8-4, is trying to reach the postseason for the sixth straight season and avoid being the first Super Bowl winner to fail to make the playoffs since Baltimore in 2013. Tennessee, 6-6, is in a three-way tie with Indianapolis and Houston for first place in the AFC South and is trying to win a division title for the first time since 2008.
Seattle at Green Bay: It appears as if a trip to the Super Bowl will have to go through Dallas this season. If that's the case, the Seahawks are going to have to play much better on the road, a task made even more difficult by the season-ending injury to safety Earl Thomas. Seattle is 2-3-1 on the road and has failed to score more than six points in three of those games. Aaron Rodgers has 19 TD passes and just three interceptions in his last seven games.
Dallas at N.Y. Giants: The Cowboys get a chance to avenge their only loss of the season, on opening day at home, and can clinch the NFC East with a victory. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott completed just 55 percent of his passes and did not throw a touchdown in the first game. Giants guard Justin Pugh (Council Rock South) is expected to play for the first time since suffering a right knee sprain in his team's Nov. 6 win over the Eagles.
Baltimore at New England: The 7-5 Ravens have won four out of five, allowing just 10.3 points per game in the four victories. Quarterback Joe Flacco has also been hot in that stretch, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and 284 yards per game. Cornerback Eric Rowe has started five of the last six games for New England, which means the Patriots have turned two former Eagles rejects into starting defensive backs. The other, of course, is safety Patrick Chung.