Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post: Eagles must show Desean Jackson the money

The great Mark Trible gives his thoughts on the Eagles front office and DeSean Jackson:

With the trade of Kevin Kolb for a second round pick in next year’s NFL draft and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Philadelphia Eagles front office continued to improve their reputation as one of the finest in the league. They’ve earned the reputation in part with their understanding of when to let older players go, drafting well, and most importantly, extending their best young players early in their contract.

When they do the latter of those things, they often end up with a successful player that makes far less than he is actually worth. In the past, this has caused problems with contract renegotiations and fair market value from the player’s point of view. Sheldon Brown is one of the most recent cases of such a strategy and consequential conflict. But, in fairness to the franchise, Brown and players like him have the option of not extending early in their contract.

The payoff can be huge down the line if they continue to stay healthy and exceed expectations on the field. However, the cushion of falling into a large sum of money at an early age and having security seems to win out. Most players aren’t successful enough in their first couple years to make a significant dent in the Eagles’ checkbook. It works for the franchise the majority of the time, yet this year they’re in a different ballpark playing a different ballgame. DeSean Jackson has finally become the aberration that throws the front office’s intention out the window. Already a two-time Pro Bowler in just three NFL seasons, he’s due for a gigantic payday, and he knows it.

If he was just a serviceable receiver at this point in his career, the Eagles likely would have extended him by now. Obviously, that’s not the case and the aftermath of Jackson’s aberrational ways is now a quandary that the team must deal with. The first option is to reach deep into their wallets and pay the man what he’s worth. While biting the bullet will certainly cost them, it will get everything taken care of and keep number 10 in green for a while.

Behind door #2 is the option of waiting the receiver out when it comes to his participation in training camp. At this point, there’s no indication that Jackson will show up, yet under the brand new collective-bargaining agreement, he’ll be fined extensively for each day he misses. He may miss a week to send a message, but it’s unlikely that he holds out forever. He simply can’t afford to, he doesn’t make enough money. There’s some irony.

Jackson’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, a man who has tried to call the Eagles bluff before and found out the hard way how they respond to such treatment. It’s safe to assume that at some point the two sides will get together and hammer something out. The lifting of the lockout and the pressure packed few days afterward certainly didn’t make things easier for either side to work on an extension.

In the span of a couple of days, the Eagles found out that there would be a new season, signed 10 of 11 rookies, signed undrafted rookies, began training camp, and completed a blockbuster deal for quarterback Kevin Kolb. In the scheme of things, signing DeSean Jackson to an extension should fall beneath those on the priority checklist.

From the franchise’s point of view, Jackson must be signed not only for production and roster reasons, but also because he can quickly let his frustrations show. For a team that places significant value on players being ‘company men’, there’s no room to let a malcontent rub off on the rest of the roster. This is especially true in Philadelphia because they have such a large contingent of young players.

In the end, it would be shocking if the Eagles failed to negotiate an extension for Jackson in the near future. Over time they have found a way to avoid the big payday and pinch some pennies through early extensions. Yet, their most successful pick recently is standing with his hands open and a burlap sack that’s empty. He’s deserved the money and while the Eagles may regret having to fork it over, it’s tough to complain about the results they see on the field.

Follow Mark on Twitter (@Mtrible) for more great Flyers and Eagles thoughts.

No comments: