Desean Jackson had a tremendous 2013. But to start 2014 there was a collective groan that could be heard throughout Philadelphia as Desean let it be known that he wants a new contract. After seeing the toll his prior holdout had on his production and attitude, some Eagles fans would rather see him traded as opposed to going through that kind of distraction again. After all, this year’s draft is loaded with wide receiver talent, and if Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are brought back then the Eagles don’t need a headache like Desean.
Here is why they are wrong.
Jackson’s 1332 receiving yards this season is the 2nd highest single season total in franchise history. He accounted for 30% of the Eagles aerial attack in 2013. In just 6 seasons he is already 4th all time in receiving yards. You cannot minimize the impact that his speed and big play ability have on the 2nd ranked offense in the NFL. Chip Kelly runs a fast twitch offense, so it benefits from having a fast twitch, explosive receiver that defenses must account for on every play. Jackson’s ability to affect the game on special teams is also usually overlooked as well since he is only used sparingly as a punt returner (only 15 total returns the last two seasons), and averaged a miniscule 5.1 yards per return last year. I would counter that by pointing out that his 4 career punt return td’s are the most in franchise history, and the amount of shanked directional kicks that he causes by his presence and capability really add up when you consider the importance of hidden yardage on special teams. I believe with more return opportunities he can still be a game-changing threat.
Now, I believe that Desean is fairly compensated ($10.25 million due in 2014), so I’m not advocating getting him a new deal as he proposes. What I am in favor of is handling this situation better than the last time, by both the team and player. I would love to see the powers that be finesse this situation so that Jackson can see the bigger picture for a change. Make him understand how close this team is to making a run at the ultimate prize this city is craving, and that he is an important cog in the machinery needed to produce that great work. It’s obvious that Lesean Mccoy is the MVP of this team, but I could make a strong argument that Desean is vitally important as well when you consider his impact on the continued development of Nick Foles. The packaged plays, misdirection, and pick-your-poison aspects of Chip’s offense aren’t as devastating without the suddenness of Desean Jackson.
And what’s really scary is that he can be better in 2014 if he is motivated. He had five 100 yard performances this year, but also five games of 50 yards or less. His increasing comfort of his role in this offense, familiarity with Foles, and hopefully continued maturity and professionalism should lead to a more consistent performance in 2014. So for that reason I say to Desean – hold on, not hold out.