Editor’s note: Staff writer Steve Fini breaks down the DeSean Jackson dilemma.
To D, or not to D…Jax. That is the question.
The Eagles have to make a decision on Desean Jackson in the next week. The overall consensus is Jackson will receive the franchise tag, but probably won’t get long term deal. While Jackson has been saying all the right things recently, it is well-documented that he wants that multi-year deal, whether or not it’s from Philadelphia.
The Eagles have almost all of the leverage in this situation. Therefore, it’s understandable that they’d take their time to make the decision. They can also franchise him and force him to play out the year, see how things go, and decide towards the end of the year what to do. Or, of course, there’s an intriguing third option–the seldom used sign-and-trade tactic. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has already reported that the team is open to trading the two-time Pro Bowl wide out. So which option best benefits the Eagles going forward?
I believe it’s the tag-and-trade scenario. As Dave King wrote yesterday, there are many reasons that Philly would be a logical landing spot for Plaxico Burress. That would immediately mend the Eagles’ red zone deficiencies that have plagued them for years. But it wouldn’t help fix the less notable void of a true number one receiver. Despite his many talents, he just hasn’t produced like a top flight receiver since sustaining a concussion against the Falcons in 2010.
He runs almost exclusively “go” routes and while his speed forces defenses to play him honest, his “one trick pony” persona is catching up with him. Adding to the problem is fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin’s inability to ascend a true star receiver. Maclin has the ability and has put together really good numbers, but at this point still isn’t an elite receiver.
I love Desean Jackson. I had many concerns about his as a receiver coming out of Cal, but he’s proven me, along with many other skeptics, completely wrong and he’s produced more for the Eagles than I ever could have envisioned. He should be commended for that.
That being said, the wear and tear on Jackson has already begun to catch up with him and it’s beginning to impact his game. While his speed is good for maybe one or two big plays a game, he’s lost the spark to be an effective receiver on an every down basis. He also skipped out on the chance to make big plays in the return game this past year, and that hurts his stock tremendously.
So what should the Eagles do? They have to start by tagging him. This is a fluid situation–it only takes one phone call from his agent, or opposing GM to change the dynamics of this situation.
The reason I’m advocating the tag and trade is based off of one solution–drafting Michael Floyd. Now, I’m in no way a fan of Notre Dame football. I’m as much of a die-hard anti-Golden Domer as I am an Eagles fan. However, the one player I have been unable to avoid giving praise to is Floyd. Watching what Floyd has done for his team over the past four years, with basically four different quarterbacks, and in two completely different offenses is amazing.
He’s shown the unique playmaking ability that’s made him the focal point of both offices. With mediocre, over-hyped quarterbacks coming to the school and no other weapons to speak of, Floyd still produced on an All-American level.
Floyd would be a perfict fit for an Eagles squad that desperately needs a receiver to take control. With the short, inaccurate Michael Vick at the helm Floyd would be a blessing. At 6’3, 220lbs he can out-play any corner in the NFL. He’s extremely physical and has great hands. He’s had to deal with double teams his entire career at Notre Dame, so he’s used to the attention. And with the combine he just put together (4.47 forty yard dash, 36-inch vertical jump) he’s proven that he has the speed and agility to match his production and impressive game film. Andding Floyd and Burress to the Eagles current crop of receivers and the Eagles offense would be much improved.
If the Eagles sign Desean Jackson to a long-term deal I’d have no complaints. He’s been an integral part of their success since he was drafted. But Jackson is not the end-all-be-all of the Eagles’ success in 2012. And I anticipate they’ll negotiate with him with that in mind.