Sep 9, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t Be Suprised If DeSean Jackson Gets Traded This Off-Season

 

Fresh off of a playoff game where he didn’t have a catch until the end of the third-quarter, and only had three total, DeSean Jackson publicly lobbied for the Eagles to re-do his contract Monday.

“I definitely feel it’s something deserving,” Jackson said Monday. “We’ll see how that plays out, and hopefully we can work things out smoothly and not have to worry about anything out of the ordinary.

“But I definitely feel like it’s deserving. I’m proven in this league, and after this past year, went out there, no distractions, and just really put it all in for my team and went out there and had a lot of success, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Keep in mind, Jackson said this, while cleaning out his locker after the Eagles 26-24 wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints. It isn’t like he said this while he was on a parade float, after leading his team to a Superbowl. He said this after a very successful season for a team that was 4-12 just a year ago, but the team clearly has some holes to fill to become an elite team.

Still, it is hard to ignore how much Jackson thrived in his first season in Chip Kelly’s offense. Jackson set career highs in receptions (82), receiving yards (1,332), and tied his career high with nine touchdowns. After two down seasons, Jackson bounced back in a major way in 2013.

And Jackson thinks that given his season, working out a new deal shouldn’t be hard.

“What I think I’m able to do on the field definitely speaks for itself,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we can work something out that’s fair for both of us, but I definitely feel like it’s deserving.”

Jackson has only played two seasons on the five-year/$48 MM deal he signed during the 2012 off-season, but his deal only guaranteed him $15, which he will top this year. After that, the Eagles can release him without any penalty because all his guaranteed money will have been paid off, barring a major injury early next year.

Per ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Jackson does get a spike in his base salary next season, but just about none of the money is guaranteed.

Of his $10.25 million 2014 salary, only $250,000 is fully guaranteed and $250,000 is guaranteed against injury.

Over the course of Jackson’s five-year contract, CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank makes a clear point that DeSean isn’t underpaid, barring an injury.

Based on his average annual salary of $9.7 million, Jackson has the eighth-richest deal among NFL receivers behind Calvin Johnson ($16.207143 million average), Larry Fitzgerald ($16.142857 million average), Percy Harvin ($12.8435 million), Mike Wallace ($12.8435 million), Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million), Brandon Marshall ($11.19475 million) and Vincent Jackson ($11,111,111 million).

DeSean did try to take back what he said to the media yesterday with this Instagram post, but the fact that he even answered the question and said deserving two or three times, leads me to believe that DeSean has been thinking about this.

So if DeSean wants more guaranteed money, then fine, give him some more guaranteed money. But if he thinks that he is going to get his deal done to the tune of getting $13MM or $14MM per season, then he has another thing coming.

When I first heard the Jackson news yesterday, I thought that it was horrible timing for the Eagles, but the more that I think about it, it’s actually horrible timing for Jackson.

The Eagles have both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin as impending free-agents. I don’t know about you, but prior to this season, I felt like Maclin was a better overall receiver than DeSean, and I was getting pretty sick of DeSean. Sure, DeSean proved how valuable he CAN be in Kelly’s system this season, but is he that in another system? And why am I to believe that Jeremy Maclin isn’t capable of putting up similar, if not better, numbers?

Riley Cooper had a pretty productive season this year as well, catching 47 balls for 835 yards, and eight touchdowns. For the right price, I’d like to bring Cooper back as the number two guy.

I almost get the sense that Chip feels like his system is above the players. Remember when Bill Belichick didn’t feel the need to pay Deion Branch more money after he was a Superbowl MVP and people thought the Patriots would take a huge step back? The Patriots ended up remaining an elite team after Branch went to Seattle, and Branch’s career went down the drain. I think without DeSean, Chip’s system wouldn’t necessarily take a step back, especially given the alternatives. I think DeSean is a better player than Branch was at that time (but so are the Eagles alternatives to what the Patriots alternatives were), but it’s a good comparison to draw from, because the Patriots don’t like to spend big on players, because they just build their system around who they have.

Let’s say that DeSean does want an annual raise, in addition to more guaranteed money. Based on that, if Chip and general manager Howie Roseman decide that they don’t want to pay DeSean $13MM or $14MM, and instead they want to go in the direction of signing Cooper or Maclin. It’s a dangerous risk in the sense that you are banking on Maclin staying healthy, but if he can, I don’t think you would see much of a dropoff, if any.

Roseman joined 97.5 The Fanatic’s  Mike Missanelli this afternoon, and spoke about how he felt that Cooper “fit what the Eagles were trying to do”, and that “they were looking for big things from Maclin before the injury, but they like how his rehab has gone.”

That doesn’t lead me to think that Roseman has closed the door on a return for either of them. So what would a Maclin/Cooper duo at wide receiver look like?

Well if Maclin has a similar skill set to Jackson and had more catches and receiving yards in 2011 and 2012 than Jackson, then why wouldn’t he have the same explosion, or even a bigger one, playing in Chip Kelly’s system?

Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper proved to be a solid number two this year, and I’m buying the fact that he may give the Eagles a slight discount on a contract, given the fact that they stuck by him through his off-season incident last year. You wouldn’t think his production would be altered if you are talking about Jackson or Maclin on the other side.

All that is hypothetical. DeSean might get a deal done with the Eagles, or we might never heard about this again as the two sides could decide to wait on a deal. In either scenario, Jackson is likely to return next year.

So we can see how DeSean’s contract situation plays out this off-season. Either way, barring an off-season injury, he will enter training camp scheduled to make $10.25 MM. That is a high amount, and there was some speculation that the Eagles would look to move DeSean, rather than pay him that amount, prior to any of this news. I felt like his was more likely that they didn’t move him, but that it certainly wasn’t worth ruling out. The fact that he wants more money on top of that, from a team whose identity appears to have shifted from a few guys carrying the team to a next man up type of deal, makes me wonder if the Eagles would consider moving him for the right return.

Pretend on draft night that a team slated to pick in the middle of the draft tries to trade their first and third-round picks to move up and draft USC’s Marqise Lee, but misses out. They decide that they need to add an impact wideout, and are willing to give the Eagles a mid first-round pick and a third-rounder. I’m at least picking the phone up on that, especially if I have re-signed Cooper and Maclin is still available.

I don’t think there is any scenario where both Jackson and Maclin come back. They are both very similar players, and I think Foles worked well with Cooper’s size. But I would take care of Cooper early, and hopefully Maclin remains an option. If Maclin decides that despite the other two coming back, he wants to come back on a one-year deal, that’s fine. But if he takes a one-year deal anywhere, it would be to try to prove himself to get a big deal. I’m not sure that being a third receiver here would do that for him.

In the end, my bet is that DeSean ends up back in Philly next season, with Riley Cooper. I would like to see Jeremy Maclin back in midnight green, but I’m not sure it makes sense for him. As Roseman told Mike Missanelli, it depends on the price and the expectations of both Cooper and Maclin. The role that the Eagles have laid out for Maclin may not meet what his expectations are.

 

Tags: DeSean Jackson Jeremy Maclin Philadelphia Eagles Popular Riley Cooper