But it shouldn't take long to bridge the gap now that Jackson, who is entering the final year of a four-year contract he signed as a rookie, is back at Eagles training camp after holding out for 11 days. He wants a new deal, conceivably one in line with the top receivers in the game.
Jackson, though, is a uniquely talented receiver. The difficulty in meeting halfway could hinge on how steadfast each side is in its argument.
Banner and Rosenhaus both declined to be interviewed for this story.
"I think it's all relative how far apart they are," ESPN NFL analyst Andrew Brandt said. "The Eagles recognize they have a special player. . . . I guess there are different degrees of how you define special player. But they have an ascending young player they can lock up long-term, and that's been their history."
Brandt, also the editor of National Football Post, brings a unique perspective to this particular negotiation because he once handled contracts for the Eagles, sometimes haggling with Rosenhaus himself.
He negotiated Eagles running back LeSean McCoy's contract with Rosenhaus, although it was a cookie-cutter deal, as Brandt put it. Jackson's deal could be complex, with an assortment of escalators and incentives written in because there really is no precedent.
"In some ways he's hard to compare to anyone," Brandt said. "The fact is he's going to be compared to the top receivers regardless. . . . And the contracts top receivers have gotten in the last few years will be used and it will be up to the sides to find a meeting point."
It could take a while just to get in the same ballpark because the 24-year-old Jackson's value cannot be measured simply by catches, yards, and touchdowns. He's a threat to score anytime the ball is in his hands.
"I think both sides recognize that you've got a game-changing player," Brandt said. "He's a human joystick. There's a value for that. It's a unique player that's hard to put in the box."
Still, Jackson's sometimes lopsided numbers will be used in both arguments.
"I think each side will selectively use numbers," Brandt said with a laugh.
Rosenhaus can go right to the Eagles media guide for some statistical support. Since 2008, Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch (18.3) and punt return yards (1,112). In 2009, he tied a league mark, scoring eight touchdowns of 50-plus yards. Last season, he became the first player in NFL history to score a game-winning punt return as time expired.
Other stats, Rosenhaus may have to comb for, like this one: Since the NFL merger in 1970 only one receiver with more than 150 catches in his first three seasons has a better yards-per-reception average than Jackson's 18.3 - Randy Moss with 18.4. No. 3 is Jerry Rice (17.9).
The Eagles could present as strong a case. If Jackson considers himself an elite receiver then why, since 2008, have 25 receivers had more receptions than Jackson's 171? They could also point out that Jackson has caught only 171 of the 331 passes thrown in his direction for a 51.7 percent rating, which isn't close to the league leaders.
Considering that Jackson probably runs more deep routes than any other receiver, that metric is probably not an accurate gauge of Jackson's pass-catching abilities.
He does get lost for long stretches of games, however, although there are times when the Eagles simply use Jackson as a decoy. Still, when he doesn't get involved early in a game he tends to struggle the rest of the way and the Eagles lose.
Since Nov. 8, 2009, the Eagles are 12-3 when Jackson has one catch or more in the first quarter, 3-6 when he has none.
Of course, Rosenhaus could use those numbers as an example of how important Jackson is to the Eagles' success.
Brandt negotiated receiver Jeremy Maclin's contract after he was the team's top pick in 2009, and one of Maclin's agent's arguments was that the Eagles like to spread the ball around.
"At the end of the day, the Eagles are a passing team," Brandt said. "And Jackson has become an important piece of their offense."
In the last few years, the top receiver contracts were dished out for a variety of reasons. Brandon Marshall received a four-year, $47.5 million deal from Miami last season after the Broncos traded the disgruntled receiver. After having a career season in his third year, the Cowboys locked up Miles Austin with a six-year, $54 million extension to take effect after the final year of his original contract at $3 million.
Less than three weeks ago, the New York Jets retained Santonio Holmes, an unrestricted free agent, with a five-year, $50 million deal.
The Holmes deal obviously set the bar for Jackson. Many equate the two because of their similar skill set. Their statistics are also comparable over the last three seasons, with Jackson averaging 3.8 receptions per game for 69.4 yards (an 18.3 yards per catch average) to go along with 17 TD receptions during that span, to Holmes' numbers of 4.3, 65.5, 15.1, and 16 TDs.
Each player brings an additional facet. While Jackson can score in more ways than just receiving - he has four punt returns and three runs for touchdowns in his career - Holmes had a clutch performance in Super Bowl XLIII, when he was named MVP for the Steelers.
Holmes, however, was a free agent and Jackson is not, so he can't leverage an Eagles offer against another team's. He could play out his contract this season and try to hit the open market in March, but the Eagles could cut him off by placing the franchise tag on him.
The Eagles also have incentive for wanting to get a deal done sooner rather than later.
"I think what's going to knock the market out of whack is the Cardinals' negotiating with Larry Fitzgerald, and I think for the second time in four years he'll be the highest-paid receiver in the history of football," Brandt said.
Fitzgerald had his contract reworked in 2008, when he agreed to a deal that would pay him $40 million over four years with $30 million guaranteed. He likely could have gotten a longer deal but risked taking a shorter one for a second big payday.
Jackson could go that route or play it safe and accept something analogous to Austin's deal.
"I think the Eagles would be more than willing to puff up the money on a longer-term deal," Brandt said. "And DeSean and Drew would have to decide if they wanted something shorter - like Fitzgerald did - and then come back for another bite of the apple."
Negotiations had not started as of Friday evening. There is the belief that the Eagles would have to extend quarterback Michael Vick - as they plan to do - before they get to Jackson.
Vick is slated to earn roughly $16 million this season under the franchise tag. The Eagles have nearly maxed out their salary-cap number so they may need to get that figure down to make room for a Jackson increase.
"I know from working there as a consultant that it was always important to keep flexibility," Brandt said. "So they don't necessarily have to redo Vick to gain cap room."
The Eagles know the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Jackson doesn't want to play this season - and risk a career-threatening injury - without an extension. They also have a player on a minimum contract looking for a raise.
Jackson knows the Eagles need him if they really are pushing all their chips in this season. He could also create some angst in the front office by being a distraction and affecting the locker room.
"It's up to the front office to respond to that or to not respond to it," Brandt said.
Or maybe negotiations go much smoother than anticipated.
"The one thing about Drew is that he's a deal maker," Brandt said. "Sometimes teams get frustrated with agents because they don't pull the trigger. Drew will pull the trigger. I think if the Eagles want to get this done sooner rather than later it could go quickly."
How Does DeSean Compare?
If you include DeSean Jackson among the top wide receivers in the game and compare how much they earn, he is grossly underpaid. There are valid reasons for this. Jackson did not score a big rookie contract because he was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft. Some of the top receivers to whom he is compared are already onto their second contracts.
The question with Jackson - especially considering the negotiations that are about to take place about an extension - is this: Is he is one of the NFL's top receivers? Arguments can be made either way, and they will be by twisting numbers. But considering run-of-the-mill statistics, through his first three seasons, Jackson at least belongs in the discussion.
Here's how Jackson compares statistically to five other receivers who recently scored big paydays. Players are listed based on average salary per year, and statistics are for the three seasons before their new contract.
Player, team Years Games Rec. Yards Avg. TD Yds/Gm Contract*
BRANDON MARSHALL, Dolphins 2007-09 46 307 3,710 12.1 23 80.7 4 yrs/$47.5, $24 guaranteed
LARRY FITZGERALD, Cardinals 2005-07 44 272 3,764 13.8 26 85.5 4 yrs/$40, $30 guaranteed
GREG JENNINGS, Packers 2006-08 43 178 2,844 16.0 24 66.1 4 yrs/$37, $16 guaranteed
SANTONIO HOLMES, N.Y. Jets 2008-10 43 186 2,815 15.1 16 65.5 4 yrs/$50, $24 guaranteed
MILES AUSTIN, Cowboys 2007-09 44 99 1,674 16.9 14 38.0 7 yrs/$57, $18 guaranteed
DeSEAN JACKSON, Eagles 2008-10 45 171 3,124 18.3 17 69.4 ????
*Reported figures, in millions - Jeff McLane
Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.