Philadelphia Eagles: What to do about Tyree Jackson’s IR status?

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

*sigh* why can’t we have nice things?

With the penultimate game of the 2021 NFL preseason mere hours away, the Philadelphia Eagles will be without one of their most exciting young players heading into an August evening bout versus the New England Patriots.

That’s right, after committing one of the better performances to tape of any player on the Eagles’ roster in Game 1 versus Pittsburgh, Tyree Jackson, the supersized quarterback-turned-tight end with sky-high potential, has suffered a broken bone in his back that will sideline the former Buffalo Bull for the next 8-10 weeks.

Okay, okay; not an ideal situation, but not a deal-breaker either. Just throw Jackson on waivers, wait out his injury, and see how the 6-foot-7 offensive weapon fares in the month of October, right? Unfortunately, things aren’t quite that simple for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a tough decision about Tyree Jackson’s future.

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Just a few days ago, the Philadelphia Eagles waived three players – Kerryon Johnson, Luke Juriga, and Casey Tucker – with injury distinctions as the team trimmed down their roster to 85.

While all three were able to pass through waivers and revert back to IR for the Eagles, their seasons are all officially over, as players placed on IR can’t be activated at any point in the regular or postseason.

Disappointing? Totally. Johnson and Juriga specifically had an inside track to the 53 man roster, and Tucker looked like a shoo-in for the practice squad but keeping the trio under team control for the rest of the season is a decent enough consolation prize, even if the Lions’ 2018 second-round pick will be a free agent come March.

Could the Eagles place Jackson on waivers in an attempt to stash him away on IR? Sure, but considering all of the hype Jackson has received this summer, I would assume some team(s) would put in a claim on the supersized ball of moldable clay, maybe even his original team up in Buffalo.

Is it worth risking the second coming of Logan Thomas to retain a guy who likely won’t even make the practice squad? No.

Okay, so I guess the Eagles would have to hold onto Jackson, let him make the initial 53 man roster, and then place him on IR, where he can return when he is ready come October, right?

Yup, but again, that isn’t without its risks either.

By keeping Jackson on the active roster until after the initial 53 man roster is announced, the Eagles would have to subject another player to waivers who may not make it through to re-sign with the team a few hours/days later.

Could a tight end-needy team – like, again, the Buffalo Bills – swoop in and sign away Richard Rodgers before the Eagles have a chance to bring him back? Or how about waiver claiming a draftee like Tarron Jackson or Patrick Johnson? While neither project as immediate contributors right out of the gate, both looked good in preseason Game 1 and thus could be worth a longer look this fall.

Even if placing Jackson on IR guarantees his spot on the roster for the 2021 NFL season – where he could stay for as little as three weeks or as long as the entire season – it subjects another player to waivers who may not survive to see the practice squad.

After losing players like Prince Tega Wanogho, Noah Togiai, and Casey Toohill for nothing last season, can the Eagles afford to do so again this season? Is Jackson one of the Eagles’ 53 best players regardless of injury, or does risking a better player come with too much, um, risk?

That, my friends, is the question Howie Roseman will be pondering over the next few weeks.

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Ultimately, there is never a good time to suffer a massive injury that keeps a player off the field for two-plus months. Plans have to change, rosters have to be reconfigured, and the very career arcs of players could be forever changed for better or worse. While typically teams aren’t too concerned about losing a third-string tight end, especially a 23-year-old who never played the position before, Tyree Jackson isn’t your typical UDFA tight end, as Philadelphia Eagles fans will tell you. If his potential is as high as his first summer at the position would suggest, he might just be worth holding onto through the initial trim down to 53, even if it puts another player in danger of being poached by an outside team.