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Could the Chicago Bears Trade for DeSean Jackson of Philadelphia Eagles?
GM Phil Emery has done a fine job over the past two seasons of rebuilding a talent-starved offense. As the Chicago Bears prepare to enter the 2013 season optimism is high on belief the unit will play well. Still, there are some lingering worries about a missing piece or two that could help the group avoid certain difficulties. Among them is the somewhat bothersome lack of a deep threat at wide receiver. It isn't paramount having one to score points but as almost any coach will say it makes life loads easier on the field. Based on that, could the Bears solve their problem by trading for Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson?
Jackson on shaky ground with Chip Kelly
What many might wonder why Philadelphia would consider such a move since they spent so much money to keep Jackson in the first place. Those same people must remember that pay raise came when Andy Reid was still the head coach. That is no longer the case. Chip Kelly is in charge now and everything has changed in terms of which players get what kind of treatment. That was never clearer than when Jackson found himself running with the second and third string units during Eagles practices. To anyone with eyes it seemed like a clear cut demotion. Jackson decided to confront Kelly about it and the coach stated that his biggest demand of players is buying into the system he runs and doing things the right way. If they couldn't then his way of reminding them who was in charge was showing them life with the reserves. Jackson claims to have gotten the message and for the time being is back with the starters. When things stay that way will depend on what happens going into training camp.
Johnny Knox loss hurt Jay Cutler and the Bears last season
So why would Chicago have any interest in keeping tabs on Jackson? The most telling is based on what happened last season. Almost all years anyone with eyes could see the Bears struggled at time to keep defenses off the receivers, citing a lack of speed that kept the safeties cautious about deep balls. That was the threat Chicago had in years past thanks to young receiver Johnny Knox. His career average of 16.6 yards per pass play was sorely missed, especially during the few times Jay Cutler had good protection during the season. It was a big reason why Cutler posted a career low in passing yard (3,033). His biggest attribute is a very strong arm capable of sending the ball down the field. Knox was his favorite man to go get. Unfortunately a grizzly back injury in 2011 put him out for the entire 2012 season and eventually forced him to retire at the age of 26. During that span the Bears haven't found a capable replacement.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery bring size
That isn't to say they don't have targets. Chicago has plenty capable receivers. Brandon Marshall proved last season with over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns that he is one of the best in the league while rookie Alshon Jeffery repeatedly flashed his great hands and ability fight for the football. Injuries hampered his progress but with a new head coach in Marc Trestman and a more complex tree of routes to run he figures to improve a great deal. The reason these two players don't solve all of the Bears' problems is the nature of how they play. Marshall is 6'5" and Jeffery is 6'3". They are giant, athletic receivers who make their money catching shorter passes in traffic and turning them into long gains. While both can go deep at times, defenses don't fear their threats as much simply because they aren't built that way.
Jackson came into the league with sub 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash. He is a threat to score on a long touchdown every time he touches the ball. That kind of threat is harder to find than people think. At present the Bears only have one receiver on their roster with anything close to that and he is a rookie undrafted free agent (Josh Lenz). Until they can get someone credible in the mix then they will have to rely on craft play-calling and hoping somebody already on the roster stepping up.
Based on past history there is no guarantee Jackson buys into what Kelly is doing. Philadelphia still has issues at quarterback and may not seek to keep Jackson at the price they're paying him if he can't produce in 2013. That could mean release, or more likely a trade.