Eagles won't miss DeSean Jackson

Chip Kelly and Co. have ample weapons to replace their leading receiver

Updated: June 27, 2014, 9:38 AM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Chip Kelly and DeSean JacksonDrew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesChip Kelly and the Eagles' front office had a plan when they cut DeSean Jackson.

There were a number of NFL personnel moves made this offseason that caused consternation among fan bases, including Aqib Talib leaving New England to join a Denver Broncos squad that beat the Patriots for the AFC title last year, and Jared Allen leaving the Minnesota Vikings to sign with the division rival Chicago Bears.

As much dismay as those moves may have generated, the most controversial departure had to be DeSean Jackson being released by the Philadelphia Eagles and subsequently signing with the NFC East rival Washington Redskins.

Jackson was by far the Eagles' most prolific pass-catcher in 2013, as he led the club in receptions (82) and receiving touchdowns (9), and had nearly as many receiving yards (1,332) as LeSean McCoy and Riley Cooper combined (1,374).

There have been multiple reasons suggested for why head coach Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia front office would let a player of Jackson's caliber go, but it's possible the Eagles sent Jackson packing because they have a plan in place that will make them not miss him one bit.

That plan revolves around the following four elements.

Jeremy Maclin's return

Jackson's main role in the Eagles' offense was to be the vertical threat. According to ESPN Stats & Information, his 905 receiving yards on vertical passes (defined as aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) accounted for 38 percent of Philadelphia's production in that area last season.

Maclin missed the entire 2013 campaign due to an ACL tear in his right knee, but in 2012 he outpaced Jackson in terms of vertical receptions (47 for Maclin, 42 for Jackson), vertical yards (540 for Maclin, 449 for Jackson) and vertical touchdowns (five for Maclin, two for Jackson).