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Former Colts DB Jackson Visiting Nova Care Center

Marlin Jackson Visiting Birds
By Lance Epstein

On Tuesday morning, defensive back Marlin Jackson was visiting Baltimore. Now, Eagles team officials have confirmed Jackson, an unrestricted free agent, will arrive at the Nova Care Center at 3 p.m. eastern standard time.

Furthermore, the native of Sharon, PA is supposed to meet the media tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.

The 26-year-old spent his entire career with the Indianapolis Colts. Jackson (6-0, 195) is a former 2005 first round pick out of Michigan, who has started in 32 games and played in 56 over his career. During his tenure with the Colts, he racked up four interceptions and 306 tackles.

What makes Jackson intriguing to the Eagles is that has played both the cornerback and safety position. Jackson has started 24 games at cornerback, six at free safety and two at strong safety.

His versatility and familiarity with the free safety position would help fill a huge void left behind when All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins signed with the Denver Broncos.

Although he can play either left or right corner, which might make a guy like Sheldon Brown available via trade. Two days ago, Philadelphiaeagles.com had a intriguing article hinting that Brown or Ellis Hobbs might not be back next seasons.

Trading Brown makes a lot more sense then Hobbs. While Brown is a better player, he is also older, 31, and has been vocal about getting a new contract. A reason trading Brown is plausible is that down the stretch over the past two seasons, receivers have consistently beaten him down the field in the game's biggest moments. Along with the fact that the Eagles have seen Brown's play drop off late in the season over the past two years as well.

Normally the signing of Jackson would be a no-brainer, but there is a potential high risk in signing the the young DB. He is coming off not one, but two ACL surgeries in a two year time period. Although his agent and doctors have assured teams that Jackson should be able to participate at full speed in training camp.

Even if Jackson is able to participate in training camp, there is still big question marks of whether he can make it through a season. The Eagles did not give Aaron Kampman the time of day because of his ACL injury, so fans are questioning bringing a guy that had two consecutive seasons ended due to knee injuries.

That said, Jackson is still young at 26 and still has upside. Whereas Kampman has hit the dreaded 30, might never recover and will most likely be paid significantly more than Jackson.

Moreover, fans have added skepticism after the Stacy Andrews debacle this past season. As everyone remembers, Andrews was signed after suffering a torn ACL very late in the 2008 season but doctors reassured that he would be ready to play the 2009 season.

Of course that did not happen and Andrews did not even start a single game nor did he see much playing time. If the Eagles are going to sign Jackson, they need to put his knee through rigorous tests.

Eagles fans have the right to be weary and cynical about signing another injury prone player, but not every player the Eagles have signed coming back off an ACL has failed. Jeremiah Trotter and Shawn Barber both excelled and made Pro Bowls (not because every player dropped out) after signing with the Eagles (Trotter's second stint). Besides signing players, Correll Buckhalter was an effective player after blowing out his knee twice.

Do not get me wrong, there are reasons to be concerned with a player recovering from two ACL surgeries but sometimes the high risk will bring back a higher reward. When healthy, Jackson is a playmaker, which was never more noticeable when he picked off Tom Brady to clinch the AFC Championship game in 2006. More importantly he brings depth to the Eagles defensive backfield, which desperately needs some upgrades.

Peter King might be pondering what Andy Reid is thinking when he said:

I'm doing a thorough physical on free agent cornerback Marlin Jackson, dumped by the Colts. And unless I think his knee won't allow him to start the season, I'm moving aggressively to sign him. He's now missed much of the past two years with injuries, but he's a smart 26-year-old corner the Colts thought so highly of that they picked him in the first round five years ago. Worth the risk. He'll visit the Eagles and Ravens this week, and I'd be surprised if he were unemployed Friday.

Jackson might not have the flashy household name as other free agents such as Julius Peppers or Antrel Rolle, but he could be the diamond in the rough for the Eagles and their hurting secondary.

Update: An Eagles sources has said Jackson is unlikely to sign today

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