|DeSean Jackson disappointed in 2011, but what happens now that he's received the franchise tag from the Eagles?|
The contract saga between the Philadelphia Eagles and DeSean Jackson took another turn on Thursday, with the team opting to place a franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowler. Jackson has made it clear he wants a long-term deal, however, and with his mercurial temperament, this situation could be combustible. How do you see things playing out?
Jackson still must prove himselfAbsent a very team-friendly deal, I'm not sure there is a long-term contract coming soon. Jackson might have to prove he is more mature and consistent in 2012 first.
The Eagles are always aggressive and open-minded on the trade front and that option can't be ruled out. They need help at several positions and always look to accrue picks. But Jackson's value on the trade market won't be its greatest either.
The team is trying to win a Super Bowl and do it right now ... nothing beyond this season is guaranteed and major changes to the coaching staff or front office could come without a strong season. Both the team and Jackson should be highly motivated and playing it out for one season for roughly $9M isn't the worst thing in the world for either party.
Jackson will get a long-term dealDuring the final five or six games last season, the "light" seemed to click on for Jackson. His attitude improved and this convinced the Eagles to reopen talks on a contract extension for Jackson. I am told by those close to the receiver that he is genuinely excited about the possibility of staying with the Eagles and reaching a long term deal. I think this ends well for both sides with Jackson getting a long term contract. Franchising him now just buys more time in the offseason to get a deal done.
Expect Jackson to straighten up and fly rightI don't think it will be combustible, even if Jackson has to play under the tag. I don't foresee a holdout or him sulking like he did last season. He saw how disruptive he was and how it affected his play, which in turn hurt the Eagles. It had to hurt him some watching a bunch of players the Eagles didn't draft and groom get paid. It happens all the time in NFL locker rooms, though, and mature players handle it and play to earn bigger bucks. That's what he'll have to do this season, much like what Vincent Jackson of the Chargers did last season. There's a lot of money to be made but not if he pulls what he did last season. Jackson would do nothing but further soil his reputation and despite his explosive ability, no team will invest the type of money that he can actually be worth if he behaves maturely and does his thing on the field.
Jackson should consider the upside of being franchisedThings will be fine and he'll stay in Philadelphia because he's already said he's okay with being franchised. Finally some sanity when it comes to franchising. I can't get over how upset players become when this happens to them. True, they don't get the long-term deal they're seeking. But if it means for one year you're going to get the average of the top five at your position? My heart hardly bleeds for you. Hey, I'd like to come off of making $500,000 to jump to $9.4 million for a year. Anyone in the world would be okay on a one-year deal if their salary was going to jump 19 times what they made the year before.
I know the possibility of getting hurt is out there but it's ALWAYS out there regardless of your salary. What players should be nervous about is playing a year where they're getting half a million when a bigger payday MIGHT await if you stay healthy. Think about it. If Jackson got hurt last year, everyone would say "Oh, what a shame, in his free agent year." But if he gets hurt THIS year, pundits will say "Wow, he got screwed getting franchised." How can that happen when you're banking nearly $10 million in the latter scenario? Nope, players get all up in arms over a huge guaranteed pile of money.
Football-wise, the team this hurts the most is San Francisco. What a marriage of convenience this would have been had he hit the market. One catch by a wideout in the NFC Championship Game tells you all you need to know about the 49ers' roster. Jackson would have stretched the defense, opened things up for Vernon Davis and helped turn Michael Crabtree into a possession receiver, which is the role he's best suited for. And with Frank Gore another year older, San Francisco needs more weapons if they're going to keep this run of excellence going.
Jackson gets a chance for a 2011 do-overWhen it comes to wide receivers, the most popular phrase right now among football's talking heads is, "[BLANK] takes the top off the defense." And when it comes to the Eagles, that [BLANK] is DeSean Jackson. These days, the priority list for virtually every team looks something like this: 1. A QB who can complete 2/3 of 40+ passes per game; 2. An edge pass rusher who gets double-digit sacks; 3. A shutdown corner; 4. A shutdown LT; 5. A field-stretching pass catcher. Rumors may be swirling (why do they "swirl", by the way? And where is this mill that keeps producing them? And can an out-of-work QB like Donovan McNabb get a job there?), but I trust Andy Reid & Co understand the significant role Jackson will have to play in order for the Dream Team to reach the Promised Land in 2012. Sure, Jackson behaved petulantly last season, but I expect he'll do better with the potentially-career-shaping mulligan the Eagles just gave him.
Potentially a win-win for the EaglesEagles should expect nothing less than an outstanding season from DeSean Jackson, who thrived in a contract year during the 2011 season. Oh wait, Jackson actually pulled off the rarity in professional sports of being the first big-name player to actually regress while trying to show his team why he deserved such a big payday.
And now with him being paid as one of the top five receivers in the NFL, he should have even more incentive to go out and put up huge numbers. Or probably not.
The Eagles are in a position where, if he returns to the team, it's wonderful. And if he ends up signing with another team, well, it's not going to be the end of the world.