If you're surprised that Alshon Jeffery is still on the Eagles' roster, the problem might be that public perception of the 30-year-old receiver and the way the Eagles view him might not exactly line up.
At least that's the message general manager Howie Roseman wanted to deliver on a lengthy conference call with reporters Thursday morning.
Obviously, the elephant in the room is Alshon. Alshon's gotta get healthy. That's the No. 1 priority for us and for him. He understands. He knows what's being said about him. He understands that he has a lot to prove and he's anxious to do that. So he's not living in a bubble; he understands that.
Aside from being an aging receiver with declining production, there has also been a perception (correct or not) that Jeffery is unhappy with the Eagles, that there's tension between him and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and speculation about his being the anonymous source from an ESPN report last season.
All those factors led to the idea that the Eagles would move on from Jeffery this offseason. And once the new CBA was ratified, it gave the Eagles a more financially feasible way to release him, using a post-June 1 designation to spread out some of the dead cap money.
But what if the Eagles want to keep Alshon?
That's the scenario that Roseman intimated on Thursday while also acknowledging that Jeffery is aware of that public perception in a town that once heralded him as a Super Bowl hero. Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in 2019 and Roseman keeps saying they just need Jeffery to get healthy.
In an interview with the Eagles' website on Thursday morning, Roseman said something similar when asked about Jeffery.
I think that when we talk about Alshon, somethings that people don't get see that we get to see on a daily basis is this guy wants to win world championships in Philly. He has told me on multiple occasions, including recently, how much he wants to win for our fans and for our city. He has had those same conversations with other people in the building.
You know, it is important for him to be a Philadelphia Eagle and to work hard. He understands where people feel about him right now, and he is not sitting there feeling sorry for himself, he's sitting there working to try to remind people what kind of player that he has been for our football team.
The Eagles initially signed Jeffery to a one-year, $14 million contract for the 2017 season and that year ended with a parade on Broad Street. But during that season, the Eagles gave Jeffery a four-year extension. And then early in the 2019 season, Roseman guaranteed Jeffery's 2020 salary to create some cap space, a move that turned out to be arguably one of his worst in recent years.
Now, the Eagles are stuck with a huge salary for a 30-year-old receiver coming off a Lisfranc injury and who might not still be a great locker room fit.
And that doesn't even account for his dipping production:
2017: 16 games, 57 receptions, 789 yards (13.8), 9 touchdowns
2018: 13 games, 65 receptions, 843 yards (13.0), 6 touchdowns
2019: 10 games, 43 receptions, 490 yards (11.4), 4 touchdowns
The last image of the 2019 Eagles came the day after the playoff loss from just outside the NovaCare Complex locker room, where Jeffery, on a Roll-A-Bout, was chatting with a concussed Wentz. Perhaps some hope for the future.
Ultimately, the financial burden of trying to rid themselves of Jeffery and some faith that he will somehow regain his form and get along with Wentz, might just be enough for the Eagles to keep him around for the 2020 season.
At least that's the message from the team on March 26.
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