Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson is eating Nelson Agholor’s lunch

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

While DeSean Jackson has brought some explosiveness back to the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense, it has come at the expense of Nelson Agholor.

In the NFL, there are only so many touches to go around.

Whether you’re a team like the Philadelphia Eagles with a creative offensive guru like Doug Pederson calling the shots or a tamer, throwback club like Jay Gruden‘s Washington Redskins, the number of plays in any given game stays relatively consistent over the course of the season.

Simply put; it’s not the number of plays a team gets, but how they use them that matters.

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Case in point, the Eagles’ running game in Week 1. Had the team deployed a traditional bell cow featured back, their overall gross of 31 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown would look pretty good – the second-best mark in the league in fact – but because those carries were split over five different players, each individuals numbers were far less impressive.

Corey Clement didn’t even earn a carry in Week 1, and there were plenty of games since 2016 where he was the team’s leading rushing.

Can a team have too much of a good thing?

The New England Patriots clearly thought so, as they traded Demaryius Thomas, a player they re-signed in the very same week to their division rival New York Jets after adding Antonio Brown.

When the Eagles made a surprise trade to acquire DeSean Jackson over the preseason, I’m sure Pederson and company had to have similar discussions.

Now clearly the decision to trade for Jackson was the right one, as he rewarded the team with two massive touchdowns in Week 1 on his way to a team-high 154 yards, but adding a player of his caliber is going to limit the overall offensive touches of a team’s other players – especially when he’s getting eight catches a game on 10 targets.

Well after one game, and I stress one game because it was only one game, it looks like we know who’s snaps will be limited as a result of Jackson’s inclusion: Nelson Agholor.

While far from a high-volume target like, say, Zach Ertz, Agholor has steadily become a more prominent part of the Eagles’ passing game over the past four seasons with team, jumping from 23 catches as a rookie to a career-high 64 in 2018. Since transitioning from the outside into the slot in 2017, Agholor’s entire demeanor has changed, and he’s become a much more competent and confident target for Carson Wentz.

However, a diminished role in 2019 could severely limit his earning potential in this a contract year.

Currently signed to a one-year, $9.38 million franchise tag, Agholor needs to turn in a strong season to garner the kind of money he’s looking for in a long-term deal.

After suffering through a remarkably pedestrian tenure in Buffalo, Agholor’s former USC team Robert Woods signed a five-year, $39 million deal in Los Angeles and has since transformed himself into a legitimate 1,000-yard receiver in his second season. While Agholor has yet to pass the century mark, he’s averaged a comparable stat line over his four seasons in Philly (538 vs. 612.75), and would presumably like to be compensated at least at the same level.

By adding Jackson and 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside to a now-crowded receivers room that also features 2017 fourth-rounder Mack Hollins and Alshon Jeffery – not to mention the ever-present pair of receiving-happy tight ends in Ertz and Dallas Goedert and a bevy of pass-catching options out of the backfield – it’s very possible Agholor could finish out the season as the Eagles’ fourth, fifth, or even sixth-leading receiver – a disastrous outcome for his future earnings in this a contract year.

And really, it’s not like Wentz didn’t try to get Agholor involved in Week 1, as he was targeted five times against Washington’s less than shutdown secondary – catching only two for 11 yards.

As things presently stand, Agholor is on pace to finish out the season with 32 catches for 176 yards and zero touchdowns if his Week 1 stats were extrapolated out over a full 16 game season. That’s obviously not good, even if the sample size is incredibly small.

While things could turn around and Agholor could return to almost four catches a game clip from 2018, he could also become more and more of a forgotten man as the Jackson-Wentz love affair kicks into high gear.

Next. DeSean Jackson is ready to lead by example. dark

Ultimately it’s hard to argue that the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t better off with DeSean Jackson on their roster in 2019, but his uptick in production and all-around dominance could unfortunately limit Nelson Agholor’s output – and potential future earnings – in this a pivotal contract year.