Let the franchise tagging begin! Today is the first day of a two-week period where the Philadelphia Eagles can designate DeSean Jackson as their franchise player for the 2012 season.
Over the past month, there have been several reports and much speculation that the Eagles will, in fact, use the tag on Jackson. The thinking is simple: the two sides are far apart in contract negotiations and Jackson is too valuable to just let walk away.
Plus, using the tag on him buys time for further negotiations in hopes to finally reach a deal. Or, as many believe as well, it will allow the Eagles to listen to trade offers for him.
As I’ve maintained all along, I’m of the opinion the Eagles should re-sign him long term, I just don’t think they will due to financial disparities. Therefore, to me, the Eagles have three options: re-sign him to a long-term deal, trade him, or let him walk away.
However, there is a fourth option.
The fourth option would be to place the tag on Jackson and just let him play the 2012 season on a one-year franchise deal.
Some people might even see this as the solution to the problem. Give Jackson one more year to prove he’s worth the money he thinks he is while getting a significant raise in pay. On the surface, that sounds all well and good and is perhaps even the fairest way to settle the debate over his value.
However, is that really what is in the best interest of the team for next season?
Sure, Jackson will be happier with his new-found wealth on a one-year deal. But the key is that, at some point, Jackson will realize that he will be headed for free agency again after next season and will again be looking for a long-term contract.
Jackson had two issues that were bogging him down last season. One, was the fact he felt he was being significantly underpaid. The other, and bigger problem, was that he felt he needed to stay healthy so that he could cash-in after the season.
I mean, nobody would give him big money if he suffered a major injury last year, right? That’s why Jackson played timid for most of the season as he wanted to keep himself out of harms way as much as possible.
Jackson openly admitted that his “first priority was staying healthy” as you can see by his quote from last September (courtesy of Philly Sports Daily):
“Whether I have the ball in my hands or not, I feel like I already established myself in this league as one of the great receivers,” said Jackson. “I just gotta go out there and keep doing what I can do. Stay healthy is the biggest thing. As long as I can stay healthy, regardless of where I’m playing, I think I’ll be alright. Just stay healthy and go out there and do my thing.”
There you go. The bigger problem was that he felt he needed to stay healthy. Why? Because he was in the final year of his deal. Well, what will the situation be if he’s playing in 2012 on the franchise deal?
He will be playing with an eye towards free agency and will again be worried about staying healthy.
Even though he would be getting paid much more money, the fact of the matter is that he’d still be in the same boat as he was last season. And, he’s already proven that he’s more worried about staying healthy than just playing the game without fear.
Because Jackson has shown that’s what kind of person he is — right, wrong, or indifferent — it means he’ll likely have that same issue again under a one-year deal. It’s a personality trait, and one that will be difficult to change no matter how hard you try to change it.
Some players have the ability to not let things like that affect them. Once they start the season, they play their hearts out for their teammates and don’t worry about getting hurt. It’s an innate part of their personality to do that.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with Jackson. It did bother him and it affected his play. I’m not saying it’s wrong because it’s logical to understand. It’s human nature to look out for yourself first and want to do what’s best for you.
And in this case, it’s in Jackson’s best interest to stay healthy so he can land a big contract and maximize his earning potential.
However, I’m just pointing out that since this type of situation affects him, the Eagles should do what’s in the best interest of the team and either extend Jackson, tag and trade him, or let him walk.
The worst thing they could do is force him to play under another one-year deal.
It would be detrimental to the team because it’ll just be another year of questions about his future, analyzing his every play from every game, and wondering if he’s short-arming passes or not trying as hard.
Do we really need that? At best, it’s taking a huge risk if the Eagles play it that way.
And it’s a risk I’m not willing to take. I’m a DeSean Jackson fan because of his big-play ability and want to see him remain with the team. However, I’d rather see him gone before having him play under a one-year franchise tag deal.
I want a team where every single player is giving their all, laying it on the line for their teammates, and not worrying about staying healthy because their contract expires at the end of the season. It is cancerous to a team atmosphere if players see other players more worried about themselves than doing what’s best for the team.
It’s Super Bowl or bust in 2012 and the Eagles cannot afford a single unnecessary distraction.