Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comAfter a stunning statistical year, the Eagles were headed for trouble when just a day after the 2013 season DeSean Jackson said he wanted his contract reworked. This fact must not have sat well with the front office and coaching staff, who then went out and re-signed Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin before the start of free agency while simultaneously letting a report surface about Jackson not fitting in to first year coach Chip Kelly’s culture, per Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski.
There’s an opinion among some in the Eagles organization that Jackson’s personality is not a great fit with the locker room culture that Chip Kelly is trying to cultivate, and the Eagles could be open to trading him.
That of course came three weeks ago, well before all the heat of the last week. Now, with free agency winding down teams have come knocking about DeSean Jackson, but the process has accelerated recently with the Eagles active shopping of D-Jax. This has only intensified the expectation of his never playing a down with the Eagles again.
In the past week, there has been many teams mentioned in connection to DeSean Jackson. The Seahawks and Niners are supposedly interested, the Panthers and Raiders have made inquiries. Kansas City is likely out of the running. From a cap perspective, the Niners would be in rough shape, as would the Patriots.
So what about the Jets?
The Jets need another receiver, have been looking for a DeSean Jackson style receiver since last year to fit their offense and have other needs to fill in on the team. The Jets front office has been burning up the Pro Day circuit in recent weeks and so using a second or even third day draft pick for a starter on offense today would free up the Jets to be more effective in using their early draft picks to pick up defensive players in the draft tomorrow, like say Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert.
While just days ago I was opposed to the idea of drafting another cornerback or defender early, using a later pick to fill in the receiver spot obviates the need to draft a top receiver. Not a bad play for the Jets while still giving GM John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan some freedom to pick up a middle round receiver (who in a deep draft might be undervalued compared to other years) as a semi-polished project player to work on for a year or two.
So back to the Jets and Jackson.
The Jets have been rumored to be an interested party in Jackson, but not at the current cost according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
According to a source, the team has had internal discussions about adding Jackson, knowing he had fallen out of favor with coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles could be motivated to trade him. The source said the Jets definitely would be interested in Jackson, but not under his current contract. The NFL Network reported the Jets are among the teams that have inquired about him.
This is the John Idzik way. They are interested, but not on the terms the Eagles and Jackson are currently setting. Last year the Jets were interested in Ed Reed, but not until he was cut. The same rule seems to apply again. This notion was backed up by Rich Cimini of ESPN NY today in his Sunday Notes column.
The sense I get from talking to league sources is the Jets have a measured interest in Jackson, which will intensify if he’s released by the Philadelphia Eagles.
His current cost is a big issue. Sources have indicated all across the intarwebs that Jackson is not interested in restructuring his contract, one which includes a $10.5 million base salary in 2014 and that has seemed to slow the market for DeSean Jackson. Now with the league meetings in Orlando this week, maybe the process can push further in coming days. Just remember that the league meetings at this time last year were supposed to help push the Revis trade … a trade which dragged into April.
Leaving Jackson’s current contract aside, what would it cost to acquire the receiver? Earlier in the week, CSN Philly’s reporter Derek Gunn shared what he had heard the Eagles were requesting for Jackson.
… according to the source, the Eagles are seeking at least a third-round pick and potentially more for Jackson,
Unfortunately for the Jets, Jackson is reported to be unwilling to take a pay cut.
In another article, Jimmy Kempski wrote this week for Philly.com that that Jackson might not even get that, writing that netting a third rounder for D-Jax might be “optimistic” before laying out all the reasons why he thinks that is the case and even hints at a much bleaker outcome for the Eagles and Jackson.
One of the most cogent points is that interested teams might be hesitant to give up anything more than a fourth rounder this year because of this draft class in particular. Steelers exec Kevin Colbert has called this the deepest draft in 30 years, and Jackson is already 27, making a boatload of money and his biggest asset is his speed, not his physicality. So once the speed goes … what then?
Another point is that Jackson’s NFL shelf life will be shorter than other stars because of the way he plays. Jackson’s value is based first and foremost from his elite speed straight-line speed. Jackson has never been a player known for his quickness on the inside nor his physicalality. Jackson isn’t able to really take or bounce off a hit, but it doesn’t really matter while defenders can’t catch up to him behind a defense.
Kempski comes to this final analysis, “the conclusion seems pretty simple from the Eagles’ perspective if they can only get a [three], or worse… Don’t trade him … unless of course the Eagles already decided a month ago to move on from Jackson no matter what, and there’s growing evidence that that is the case.”
And there is that very evidence.
There might be another way for teams to get a crack at Jackson writes Manish Mehta for the New York Daily News.
“Philly is trading him or cutting him,” a source told the Daily News Saturday. “That’s a fact. They don’t want him.”
Although the source said that Jackson isn’t interested in restructuring a contract that includes a $10.5 million base salary (and $12.75 million salary cap charge) in 2014, he may have no choice but to take a pay cut. It’s hard to imagine a team would absorb that cap hit.
It seems like some team **cough cough RAIDERS cough** would be stupid enough to give up draft picks and allow him to retain his current salary. Hell, they just did it with Matt Schaub, and he’s terrible. Why not for a talented speed merchant playmaker like DeSean Jackson?
Cutting Jackson is seemingly a growing theme among reports, starting back at Kempski’s March 1st hints and only increasing in current days. Aside from the locker room fit concerns, there’s deeper issues between the Eagles and Jackson, it would seem.
So would the Jets just be trading one Santonio Holmes for another? While Jackson would be a good scheme fit for the Jets, is this the sort of player that GM John Idzik is willing to bring in?
There are some concerns about his maturity, which Nick Fierro outlined for The Morning Call.
We know, or at least we think we know, that he has money problems that were never solved even after signing a five-year, $47 million contract two years ago that has already paid him nearly $18 million (including a prorated $10 million signing bonus) and will pay him another $10.25 million this year if he’s still on the roster on opening day.
We think we know this because he’s already asked for more, and because former agent Drew Rosenhaus is suing him for money he alleges Jackson owes him.
We also know that there was a recent burglary of Jackson’s Philadelphia home in which more than $300,000 in cash and jewelry were taken with no signs of forced entry.
And we know that various people close to Jackson and/or the Eagles’ front office believe that there’s at least a chance he’s gone long before training camp.
“There is no way he’s an Eagle this year,” yet another person close to Jackson told The Morning Call. “However it leaked out, it leaked out, and now this is what you have.”
Assuming that DeSean Jackson is cut, the fact that teams are asking him to take a pay cut and his unwillingness to do so indicates that his eventual market won’t support his current contract. Even with all the money that’s available to teams this year in free agency, Jackson might make more than this year’s top free agent receiver Eric Decker, but it might not be significantly more.
Either way, Jackson seems to be sending out some hints to teams he’d like to join. Jackson’s Instagram account in the past few days has featured pictures of him with Cam Newton of the Panthers, with Marcel Reece of the Raiders, an old recruiting picture with Pete Carroll and of course new Jets quarterback Mike Vick.
While the Seahawks might seem a stretch due to their having Percy Harvin already the rest of those teams could emerge as real suitors. Was this Instragramming some wistful nostalgia from DeSean Jackson or thinly veiled social media flirting?
We might soon find out.