There are two distinct questions regarding Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson: Will the Eagles re-sign him and should they re-sign him? When giving an opinion on this matter, many folks don’t separate the two questions.
People tend to think in terms of what the Eagles should do and not what they likely will do based on past practices and how they seem to operate.
This is why we here at Eagles Addict are starting a new feature titled “Will they, Should they?” Every so often, Ron Pasceri and myself will give our thoughts on a particular Eagles subject and try to discern whether the Eagles “should” do something and whether or not they actually will.
This way, you can get two points of view in the same article. Sometimes Ron and I will agree, other times we may not. So with all that said, let’s get on with it shall we?
Since the Super Bowl is now officially a thing of the past, we can now turn 100% of our attention to the hot offseason topics surrounding the birds. And with the Juan Castillo dilemma officially answered, the next big decision the Eagles must make is what to do about DeSean Jackson.
When it comes to the subject of re-signing Jackson, most of those who think they should re-sign him think they ultimately will. However, I’m a little different in that regard.
At this point, I think the Eagles should re-sign Jackson to a multi-year deal. The main reasoning is simply because he’s a play-maker. He’s a legitimate threat to make a big play at any time and from anywhere on the field.
Defenses have to respect the deep threat he brings on virtually every snap outside of the red zone. Jackson has a rare speed that no defensive back can keep up with and if there’s one thing you can’t teach, it’s speed.
With that, he opens up the underneath routes for players like Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek as well as opens running lanes for LeSean McCoy. And as you saw this past year, McCoy and Celek took advantage and had great seasons.
Even after all of Jackson’s issues this past season, Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Jeff Lurie have all voiced their support for his return. I think Jackson’s behavior was rooted more in immaturity as opposed to being an egotistical diva.
They say that the teams who draft the best are the ones most likely to win a championship. The Eagles haven’t exactly been stellar in that category but Jackson was one of their better picks in recent years.
It would be better for team continuity if the Eagles retained Jackson rather than try to replace him. It’s always better to keep your home-grown players and the Eagles have had enough roster overturn these past two years.
Now, on the other hand, I don’t think the Eagles will keep Jackson.
They want to keep him, but only for the price they deem as fair value. This is, and has always been, the only problem between the two sides. However, there is apparently a huge discrepancy on Jackson’s worth.
Paul Domowitch reported at the end of January that “league sources said Jackson’s opinion of his worth continues to be night-and-day different from the Eagles’.”
The gap between how much Jackson feels he’s worth and what the Eagles think he’s worth is likely so big, that it will take a small miracle for the sides to come to a long-term agreement.
Therefore, don’t be surprised when the Eagles place the franchise tag on him by the end of this month. However, that doesn’t mean he’ll ultimately end up on the Eagles’ roster in 2012.
By placing the tag on Jackson, it buys the Eagles time for negotiations and also to weigh their options. They can’t just let him walk away without covering themselves with either compensation (trade) or finding a veteran replacement (free agent).
Furthermore, if you go by past history, the Eagles’ track record for coming to terms with players who have contract problems is not good. It seems that once it becomes public knowledge that they differ in terms of value, the end result is that the player does not remain with the team.
Here are some examples of contract squabbles over the course of the Andy Reid era and how they turned out:
John Welbourn – Traded
Jeremiah Trotter – Tagged, then not re-signed
Michael Lewis – Benched, then not re-signed
Sheldon Brown – Traded
Lito Sheppard – Demoted, then traded
Terrell Owens – Released
David Akers – Tagged, then not re-signed
Brian Dawkins – Not re-signed
What does DeSean Jackson have in common with all of those players? Money, it’s all about the money.
Based on the Grand Canyon-sized gap between Jackson and the Eagles in when it comes to his value, and the track record of this organization when it comes to such issues, it is highly unlikely that Jackson will be an Eagle for the 2012 season.
Now that I’ve had my say, it’s time to turn it over to Ron Pasceri:
Part of following the Philadelphia Eagles is the annual reflection of a failed season. With that comes musings on the offseason. Figuring out what they should do in the draft, in free agency and occasionally with trades.
Really, just assessing everything that could solidify the previous year’s weaknesses and make the following year a success.
What should always follow though, is a second part, inseparable from the first. What WILL they do? That is very important because the Eagles rarely do what anyone outside the NovaCare Complex feels they should do.
With the draft still a few months off and free agency looming, it’s usually best to look internally first. The biggest decision that needs to be made with the current roster is what to do with DeSean Jackson.
Should they keep DeSean Jackson? The 2011 season was largely viewed as a disappointment from Jackson. His big-play flair as both a receiver and a returner dimmed and he was accused of quitting on his team.
Clusters of games passed with Jackson serving as not much more than a decoy and whatever the opposite of having a nose for the end zone is, he had it. Ultimately, along with Juan Castillo, Jackson’s performance became the headline for an underachieving group.
It may sound like that’s a vote for Jackson leaving, but really, as poorly as he is supposed to have played, he still wound up being a productive and important player.
As far as individual performance, Jackson managed to catch 58 balls for 961 yards. Being less explosive than expected, he still averaged 16.6 yards per reception, good for 10th among receivers with over 50 catches. He is also fourth among active players with 17.8 yards per catch in his career.
Outside of his tangible numbers, Jackson is a matchup nightmare for opponents and they must gear their entire defensive scheme to account for him. His presence opens up the entire middle of the field for the rest of the offense.
LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushes over 10-yards and 20-yards. A lot of that has to do with Jackson stretching the second level of the defense. Aside from McCoy’s rushing, the middle of the field is open for the tight ends and other receivers and allows Michael Vick some easy throws.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, Jackson was out of the lineup due to suspension. It turned out to be one of the worst offensive performances and a terrible Eagles season. They scored just 17 points and on 34 pass attempts, just eight were caught by wide receivers, for a pathetic 53 yards. That is not a coincidence.
Should DeSean Jackson be brought back? Yes. He absolutely should.
Now comes the tricky question. Will he be brought back? It is next to impossible to truly know what the Eagles will ever to, but it is starting to feel like DeSean will be an Eagle again in 2012.
With Jeffrey Lurie’s public backing of Andy Reid and the retention of Juan Castillo, it seems like the Eagles have bought in to the four-game winning streak to end the season. If that is truly the case, then Jackson’s improved play during that stretch will also be noticed.
Over the final four games, Jackson produced at a 60-reception, 1,052-yard, eight-touchdown pace. He also caught a pass over 30 yards in three of the final four games, including a 62-yarder in the season finale.
Along with the backing of Reid is the backing of Michael Vick as the quarterback and the team’s Super Bowl chances as a whole. If they are truly aiming that high in 2012, they won’t get there by subtracting from their offense.
Most of all, Andy Reid really likes DeSean Jackson and Jackson likes playing in Philadelphia. He would prefer to stay and I honestly believe Reid and Vick would like to keep him on board.
The only think that can really derail things is money. If he demands the type of money Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson command, he will be gone. But right now, it appears the Eagles are ready to go out and try again with what they have. And a big part of what they have has been DeSean Jackson.