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Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—The way it looks now, the Eagles have considerably weakened themselves on the field by extracting DeSean Jackson, while potentially strengthening the Washington Redskins, their NFC East rivals, if the ’Skins sign him.

Will letting Jackson go rank up there in Philly sports lore as one of the worst decisions ever made? Think about trading Wilt Chamberlain for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff; trading Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus; trading Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and two first-round draft choices to the Bullets for Cliff Robinson and Jeff Ruland—and Roy Hinson for what turned out to be All-Star Brad Daugherty; and finally getting rid of handful Charles Barkley for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.

Who is the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver, as of today? It’s not No. 10 on the poster that once hung from Lincoln Financial Field for everyone driving down I-95 to see. It’s Jeremy Maclin, who never caught more than 70 passes in a season and is returning after missing 2013 because of major knee surgery.

Who will be the Redskins’ leading receiver? Jackson, who is in the prime of his career, can stretch a field, arriving off a historic season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and a career-tying 9 touchdowns.

If not for Jackson, the Eagles wouldn’t have finished 10-6 in their first season under Chip Kelly and won the NFC East. If not for Jackson, the Eagles wouldn’t have shattered single-season offensive records for points (442, previous record was 439 in 2010), total net yards (6,676, previous record was 6,386 in 2011), touchdowns (53, previous record was 50 set in 1948), and passing yards (4,406, previous record was 4,380 set in 2009).

Without Jackson, Nick Foles doesn’t have the season he had in 2013, neither does LeSean McCoy.

McCoy may have been the focal point of every defense that the Eagles faced in 2013. But Jackson was the most feared. He was the one defenses couldn’t let behind them, because they knew they weren’t going to catch him.

And think about this—for Jackson to have all the so-called “problems” that have been alleged—why is it taking another NFL team just four days to sign him after he was released by the Eagles on Friday, March 28?

NFL security measures are steep. Players today are researched back to high school for red-flag behavior. Granted, some teams are willing to take chances, like the New England Patriots did with Aaron Hernandez.

There is information out there about questionable players that teams don’t necessarily share, though are very aware. It’s basically the same information all teams have.

Maybe the Eagles feared another Aaron Hernandez situation possibly imploding their team. Or maybe just Kelly got tired of Jackson’s me-first, sporadically petulant attitude, which does seem very apparent, that he felt compelled to get nothing back for a rare commodity with a tacit one-step-back, for-two-steps-forward compromise that had to be made.

Either way, the Eagles are much weaker for it, as of April 1, and the Redskins could be reaping the rewards of a possible Eagles’ blunder.

There are holes that need to be filled on this team (safety, pass-rushing edge defender, ect.). Trying to obtain a lightning-fast receiver is another gaping issue that has to be addressed.

It comes down to a simple question: Are the Eagles better off, presently, without DeSean Jackson? Currently, no—and it’s what could haunt the Eagles for some time. If he signs with the Redskins, it bites them at least twice a year, compounding what may be one monumental gaffe.

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