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Eagles Bait Marlin

After Further Review, Jackson, Eagles Agree to Two-Year Deal
By Lance Epstein

A couple of hours ago Marlin Jackson met the Philadelphia media. After the meeting, he was supposed to be on the Jersey turnpike on his way to visiting the New York Jets. Now, the Eagles have announced they have come to terms with the 26 -year old defensive back.

One of the main reasons that Jackson was enamored with the Eagles is that they mirrored the organization that he was leaving in the Colts.

"The one thing about coming from Indianapolis is that I'm used to winning and that's number one for me, to win and to be part of an organization that has something built and something set up," Jackson said. "That's what they have here. They've won each and every year. Andy Reid has done a great job. You look at the roster, they have a top quarterback in the league, they have a great offensive line, they have weapons on offense, they generate great pass rush, they have defensive backs already here. They have all the pieces that are already needed to win a championship."

Over the past two seasons, the former 2005 first round pick (29th overall) out of Michigan has battled the injury bug. In 2008 he tore his right ACL and this past season in October, he tore his left ACL.

While he is a risky move due to two ACL surgeries, Jackson said he is ahead of schedule in the rehab process and will be ready to go as training camp arrives.

"I'm at four months in my ACL rehab," Jackson said. "I'm sprinting, running, back-pedaling, breaking, things like that so I'm ahead of schedule. I've been blessed so far with my rehab, it's gone very, very smooth. Like I said before, I'm ahead of schedule.

"I would be capable of doing what is needed to as a football player by mid-May, June," he said. "By training camp, wherever I am, I'll be ready to go full go."

Even if Jackson is not 100 percent now, when on the field he is a playmaker that the Eagles desperately need. In his short 5-year career, Jackson has registered 306 tackles and four interceptions.

The play most fans and coaches remember Jackson for is his interception of All Pro quarterback Tom Brady to seal the 2006 AFC Championship game. His career season was in 2007 as he started in all 16 games and contributed a career high 112 tackles for the NFL's second ranked pass defense.

More importantly for the Eagles, Jackson (6-0 195) is as versatile has they come. Jackson has started 24 games at cornerback (at both left and right corner), six games at free safety and two at strong safety over his NFL playing career.

"Whenever I've played and been on the field, I've played well," Jackson said.

The Eagles have not made it official where Jackson will lineup in the Eagles secondary but Fox Sport's Adam Schein and ESPN's Adam Schefter are reporting he will be the Eagles starting free safety.

For the Eagles the signing of Jackson is a relatively low financial risk to the team. If Jackson can preform at the level he is capable of, he could be the best bargain on the free agent market. All that being said, the Eagles are still taking a very big risk in assuming Jackson will be able to be an effective starting free safety as the season kicks off.

After last year's free agent disappointment of Stacy Andrews, I do not believe the Eagles will take this kind of gamble again. Expect Reid and GM Howie Roseman to draft a safety in the early rounds.

If Earl Thomas falls to the Eagles at 24, the Eagles would certainly have to think about selecting him regardless of Jackson signing. The Texas product reminds many scouts of former All Pro Eagles safety Brian Dawkins in the way he makes plays and puts heads on swivels.

Yet another reason for drafting a safety high is that strong safety Quinton Mikell is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and he will be 30-years old. Usually, the Eagles do not like giving big money contracts to players 30 and older.

The signing of Jackson hopefully gives the Eagles their starting free safety for the next couple of years and could allow them to take another athletic safety at 24 in USC's Taylor Mays. Mays played free safety in college but his lack of range and cover skills makes him more of an in-the-box safety; thus a strong safety. Mays could be drafted to be the heir apparent to Mikell.

Remember though, this is a gamble by the Eagles because Jackson might not be the player he was before his injury, but if he does return to form Eagles might have found the diamond in the rough.

Jackson's career highlights and Notes:

From Sharon, PA
Attended Sharon High School
Played varsity football and was an All American and Pennsylvania player of the year as a senior
He finished his career with 281 tackles, 18 interceptions and four picks returned for touchdowns

Four year starter at Michigan
All American as a Senior
Finished with 195 tackles, nine interceptions, five forced fumbles, two sacks and two blocked kicks.

In 2009, was recipient of Ed Block Courage Award

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