But Jackson has been out of sight/out of mind/all over Twitter while many of his teammates have been working out in the Philadelphia area during parts of the lockout. The contract has obviously bothered him for a while, and while he said he understood why last year's collective bargaining peculiarities prevented the Eagles from redoing the deal, you always wondered.
Now we all find out if the Eagles have another Terrell Owens on their hands. For Jackson, is it my way or the driveway?
As the Eagles reopened the doors to the NovaCare Complex to their players yesterday, it was quarterback Michael Vick who clued in everyone to the possibility that Jackson might just not be reporting to Lehigh tonight.
"We're trying to figure out what's going to happen. Hopefully, he'll be here tomorrow," Vick said. "DeSean just has some things to think about and some decisions to make that only himself can make . . . It's all in what DeSean wants. So, we're rooting for him, hopefully he'll be here, and I think he will."
The Daily News' Paul Domowitch reported yesterday afternoon that the Eagles were unaware of a potential Jackson holdout. Then there is a timing issue. Adam Caplan reported on 97.5 The Fanatic that everybody on a team starting camp today will get a day's grace period on the reporting date because this is all happening so fast. An attempt to confirm that last night with the Eagles was unsuccessful.
But if he isn't there, well, what? It says here it isn't a big deal. It says here that this will only be a big deal if the Eagles decide to make it a big deal.
By holding out, Jackson would risk the forfeiture of some of his signing bonus. The entire collective bargaining agreement has not been made public, but according to guidelines that reportedly were sent to agents, Jackson would risk losing 15 percent of his prorated signing bonus if he were to miss 6 days of camp, plus 1 percent per day after that up to 25 percent. For Jackson, that would be about $51,000 if he missed 6 days and about $85,000 if he missed the entire camp - with another $85,000 lost if he missed the first game of the regular season.
But it isn't really the money that will be the issue. The risk Jackson runs is what the effect of a holdout would have on Eagles management. Would it push them to move faster on the renegotiation that everyone agrees is deserved or would it cause them to dig in their heels?
Whether or not anyone on either side would ever admit it, the whole DeSean-as-diva issue is out there, and it is on the Eagles' mind as they contemplate how to structure the new deal.
His explosiveness is undeniable; it turns around games, and turning around games is what the business is about. The Eagles have gotten his services for cheap for at least the last 2 years and Jackson clearly deserves more money. At the same time, Jackson's self-absorption is also undeniable. The care and feeding of this unique wide receiver has never been easy or simple.
And if he holds out, well, what?
Does it signal a principled stand by a player who has been underpaid for too long, by everyone's calculations, and deserves to have his contract renegotiated before he ever again risks injury on a football field? Or is it another care-and-feeding issue that is likely to rankle a front office that has never reacted well to being stiff-armed by a player during negotiations?
That it would be better for Jackson to be in camp goes without saying. That he deserves a new deal also goes without saying. A holdout would complicate things, but only a little - unless there is a chasm between what Jackson is seeking and what the Eagles will be offering, or unless the Eagles feel the need to prove a point.
That last one is the real danger, if Jackson lights this particular fuse.