Eagles Will Trade DeSean Jackson
It's no longer a question of if the Philadelphia Eagles will trade wide receiver DeSean Jackson, it's only a question of when and to whom.
What started off as a silly rumor two weeks ago has now reached a boiling point. Jackson and his people say the Eagles haven't contacted them and the Eagles have resisted the urge to fully squelch the rumors.
Both head coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman have been asked, at different times, about the rumors that they were trying to trade Jackson and both passed on the opportunity to end the speculation. Both simply turned the queries into jokes, when they could have stopped the questions by saying they would not trade Jackson. Since they did not say that they are completely committed to Jackson and he will not be traded, the only reasonable assumption is that the receiver is gone.
This probably started right after last season ended, with the playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. That's when Jackson told reporters in the locker room that he thought he deserved more money. He quickly back-tracked and said he wasn't going to hold out or anything, but he just thought he deserved more money. That kind of thing doesn't sit well with NFL front offices. Not after a playoff loss and not after that player recently signed a 5-year, $51 million extension right before the 2012 season.
Jackson is slated to make $10.25 million in base salary, plus $2.5 million in bonuses in 2014 and the team still owes him roughly $30 million in salary over the next three seasons. None of that is guaranteed though and it would only be a $6 million cap hit to this year's cap if they were to trade or release Jackson now. That's not outrageous money for a receiver who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. But it is if the team has other options.
Back in February, Roseman made a point of saying that the team didn't want to allocate too much money to one position, then he proceeded to re-sign receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper before they could test free agency. Jackson counts $12,750 million against the 2014 cap, so by adding Maclin ($5.250 million) and Cooper ($1.8 million), that means the Eagles have $19.8 million tied up in just three receivers this season. That is way too much money for one position and it goes against everything Roseman believes in. Something has to give. That something is probably Jackson being traded.
Should the Eagles Trade DeSean Jackson
There are many other reasons besides the money, why the Eagles might be looking to unload Jackson.
There was that blowup between Jackson and wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell on the sideline during the Eagles' Dec. 15 loss at Minnesota that was captured by the Fox Sports cameras. Jason Avant played peace-maker in that circus, but he's gone now. Kelly doesn't like me-first players and Jackson is most definitely a me-first player.
There is Kelly's well known preference for bigger players. "Big people beat up little people." Jackson is only 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, soaking wet.
There are plenty of receiving options that will available to the Eagles in the upcoming draft and the top 20 are all bigger than Jackson. Roseman has even gone on the record as saying that there will be a receiver at or near the top of the Eagles draft board each time they make a pick. The top receiver, Clemson's Sammy Watkins is a top 10 pick, but the Eagles could have a shot at USC's Marquise Lee (6'0"-192 lbs.), Texas A&M's Mike Evans (6'5" - 231) or LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. (5'11" - 198). Beyond those guys, there is still plenty of receiving talent that will be available in the later round of the draft. Plus, they would make about $12 million less than Jackson this season.
Even if the Eagles and Kelly don't want to use a rookie receiver right away, they can still go 2 TE, with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. And let's not forget about Kelly's new toy; Darren Sproles. Sproles caught 71 passes last season, in what many thought was a down year for him. When you add in the incredible pass-catching ability of running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles would still have more than enough play-makers on offense without Jackson.
The main problem right now is that the Eagles reportedly already tried to trade Jackson last offseason, but couldn't even get another team to offer up as much as a second round draft pick. I find that amazing for a player with Jackson's talent. But it just goes to show you that he has a reputation around the league. And don't forget, the reason Jackson slipped to the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft is because there were concerns about his attitude during his college career at Cal.
Another problem is that the only two teams that have been discussed as having any interest in Jackson are the 49ers and Patriots. Neither one has anywhere near the cap space available to fit Jackson's salary.
When they re-signed Maclin and Cooper, I instantly assumed that Jackson's days with the team were numbered. I just figured the Eagles would see how Maclin's knee held up this season, before trying to resign him to a longer term deal and they would draft a receiver. Then they would cut or trade Jackson next offseason, since they would need the cap space for the new contracts they should be offering Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Mychael Kendricks and Brandon Boykin. It looks like that timeline has been moved up a bit now, doesn't it?
DeSean Jackson Premature TD Celebrations
At this point there is no going back. The story is out there, the team hasn't shut down the speculation and Jackson will never be the same player on this roster. Remember how he pouted his way through the entire 2011 season when he wanted a new contract and later admitted that he let his contract status affect him? What the heck do you think this whole ordeal will do to his demeanor?
No, it's time to say Bye-Sean to DeSean.