It’s Almost November, Where’s Jackson’s New Deal?
By Bob Wankel
Six games into a season that has thus far fallen well short of its great expectations, the Eagles prepare for a game that will almost certainly set the tone for the remainder of their season.
So the only focus inside the Eagles’ locker room should be on devising and executing a game plan to knock off Dallas on Sunday night and make this season interesting for at least a few more weeks, if not into January.
Outside of that locker room, though, general manager Howie Roseman, team president Joe Banner, and owner Jeffrey Lurie should be focusing elsewhere. Namely, on a new deal for wide receiver Desean Jackson, who is hasn’t yet been locked up as the calendar creeps toward November.
The only thing stands between the Eagles losing one of the most dynamic playmakers in franchise history is ten regular season games, an unlikely postseason, and even more unlikely franchise tag.
The number owed to a wide receiver given the franchise tag this season was $ 11.3 million, a number that will increase in 2012. While the Eagles will likely use the tag in whatever remaining negotiations occur with Jackson, that’s a tremendous cap number, one that would be extraordinarily out of character for the Eagles’ front office to take on for a receiver.
Given this, if the Eagles want to keep Jackson, they are going to have to work out a deal with him and agent Drew Rosenhaus. Jackson took out a much publicized insurance policy earlier this year, so he’s likely in no rush to ink a below-market deal, but it remains perplexing that these two sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement.
There’s a perception in Philadelphia that Jeremy Maclin has enjoyed a much better season to this point, and while he’s been the more consistent receiver, this perception isn’t entirely true.
Maclin has 37 receptions for 489 yard, good for 13.2 yards per catch in addition to three touchdowns.
While Jackson has 13 fewer receptions, he’s still totaled 456 yards, at a rate of 19 yards per catch with two scores.
But remember, it was Maclin whose critical drop against the Falcons killed a late rally, and it was Maclin whose late fumble killed what would have been a go-ahead score against the 49ers in the waning moments of the Eagles’ Week 4 loss.
Additionally, one has to wonder if teams have been so concerned with eliminating Jackson’s big plays as a vertical threat that it has allowed Maclin and fellow receiver Jason Avant, who is on pace for a career high in receptions and receiving yards, to flourish.
And despite durability and health concerns, Jackson has played in all six of his team’s games and is on pace to haul in 55 receptions for 1,049 yards in what many have considered to be a down season for the fourth-year receiver from California.
This is a deal that many felt would be done shortly after Jackson got into camp. That hasn’t been the case. And now it’s fair to wonder why.
He’s been a gold soldier, he’s kept his mouth shut—something he hasn’t always done in the past, and he’s produced on the field.
So as the Eagles prepare to face Dallas at home on Sunday night, here’s hoping the Eagles’ front office is preparing to finally get a deal done with Desean Jackson.
As much as we don’t want to admit it—this isn’t a make or break year for the Eagles. And while they must continue to rebuild their defense through the draft, it’s crucial the Eagles keep Maclin, Jackson, and running back LeSean McCoy together for the foreseeable future. If they fail to do this, it will be even more puzzling, and certainly more crushing than this 2-4 start.