3 draft picks the Philadelphia Eagles gave up on too soon

Philadelphia should have held onto these guys a little longer.
Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

A plethora of great players have suited up for the Philadelphia Eagles over the years. Some were able to play their entire career in Philadelphia, while others started out with the Eagles but ultimately went on to achieve success elsewhere after they parted ways with the team.

In hindsight, the Eagles probably wish that they held onto some players longer than they did. Here’s a look at three players that Philadelphia gave up on a little too soon.

LeSean McCoy, Running back

Drafted: Round 2, Pick 53 in 2009

LeSean McCoy played the first six seasons of his career in Philadelphia after the Eagles selected him in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. During his time with the team, McCoy was named to the Pro Bowl three times and he was named a First-Team All-Pro twice. He also led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2011 and rushing yards in 2013.

By the time he was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 2015, McCoy had established himself as Philadelphia’s all-time leading rusher – a distinction he still holds.

The problem with Philadelphia’s decision to trade McCoy at the time was that he still had a whole lot of proverbial gas left in the tank. Upon arriving in Buffalo, McCoy made three straight Pro Bowls and proved that he was still one of the league’s most elite running backs. He ran for 895 yards during his first season with the Bills, and then he had at least 1,100 rushing yards in each of the next two seasons. He played four total seasons in Buffalo and became the sixth leading rusher in franchise history during that time.

After his time in Buffalo, McCoy went on to win two Super Bowl rings: one with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and another one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. It’s clear that he still had a whole lot to give to the game after he was traded away from the Eagles.

DeSean Jackson, WR

Drafted: Round 2, Pick 49 in 2008

When DeSean Jackson debuted for Philadelphia in 2008, he quickly became one of the most explosive, and exciting, wide receivers in franchise history. He compiled over 900 receiving yards as a rookie, was named to the Pro Bowl after his second season and led the league in yards per reception during his third year. In all, Jackson made the Pro Bowl three times and he had three 1,000-yard seasons in Philadelphia before the team released him in March of 2014. At the time of his release, he was in the top 10 in franchise history for receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns.

Jackson’s days of being an extremely dangerous deep threat didn’t end when he was released by the Eagles, though. He signed with Washington ahead of the 2014 season, and he had over 1,100 receiving yards and again led the league in yards per reception during his first season with the team.  He would go on to lead the NFL in yards per reception twice more – with Washington in 2016 and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018.

The Eagles ultimately brought Jackson back in 2019, but he appeared in just eight total games for the team over the next two seasons due to injury issues. Plus, by that point in his career he had started to slow down a bit, and he couldn’t quite stretch the field as consistently as he had previously.

Rather than bringing him back after he was past his prime as a player, Philadelphia likely would have benefitted from never releasing Jackson in the first place.

Jeremy Maclin, WR

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 19 in 2009

Needing some depth at the wide receiver spot, the Eagles selected Jeremy Maclin in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Maclin compiled five productive seasons with the franchise, as he had over 750 receiving yards each year that he wore an Eagles jersey. His best individual season came in 2014 when he had over 1,300 receiving yards and was named to the Pro Bowl as a result. Unfortunately, that would end up being his last season in Philadelphia.

Maclin signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in March of 2015, and he wasted no time in putting up big numbers on his new team. He had eight touchdowns and 1,088 receiving yards during his first year in Kansas City while proving to Philadelphia that he was still a valuable receiver in the process.

A groin strain forced Maclin to miss four games the following year, and his output dipped as a result. He was released by the Chiefs in 2017, and he would play just one more season with the Baltimore Ravens before calling it a career.

Maclin is 10th all-time in receiving yards in Philadelphia franchise history, but he could have been even higher up on the list if the Eagles had decided to keep him around in 2015 when he was clearly still a productive player.