Eagles Notes: Will Jackson be next Eagle to get a new deal?

DeSean Jackson could get his wish now that Michael Vick's deal is done.
DeSean Jackson could get his wish now that Michael Vick's deal is done. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 31, 2011

Hypothetically speaking, if the Eagles wanted to extend the contract of a certain Pro Bowl wide receiver, they have the salary-cap space to do so, team president Joe Banner said Tuesday.

"It is possible. Is that what you're asking me, to extend another player?" Banner said when asked specifically about DeSean Jackson. "It is possible. If you're asking me a mathematical question, I say yes."

The question was raised moments after the Eagles officially announced Michael Vick's six-year, $100 million contract and because many believe the quarterback's deal had to get done first before the team could set its sights on getting Jackson locked up long-term.

Vick was slated to earn approximately $16 million this season under the franchise tender, all of which would have counted against the Eagles' cap number. That figure was reduced to $14.4 million, giving the Eagles an additional $1.6 million in cap space on top of $2.1 million.

The $3.7 million in cap space wouldn't appear to be enough to extend Jackson, but numbers can be massaged by roster and signing bonuses.

So now that Vick is done, is Jackson next?

"We understand the interest - most of the interest, maybe not all of the interest," Banner said. "But I think it's best for the players and for us to keep whatever contract conversations we're having or not confidential."

Jackson declined comment.

As of Tuesday, the Eagles and Jackson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had not begun negotiations, a source close to the situation said. That doesn't mean talks couldn't pick up at any moment and a deal struck. But indications have been that there is still a lot of ground to bridge between the sides.

"For me to get into the specifics with him can only be counterproductive," Banner said. "We have been clear that we think DeSean is a great player, and we're lucky to have him, and we appreciate that he's here now and working as hard as he is, and anything else beyond that is just not good for the process."

Jackson is slated to earn roughly $600,000 in the last year of a four-year contract. He sat out the first 11 days of camp in a holdout. But he reported Aug. 8, a day before he would have lost an accrued year toward free agency, and has not missed a practice since.

Jackson has been quiet in the preseason, catching only two passes for 8 yards. There is the concern that the longer he does not get a new contract the more it could affect his on-field performance.

"What DeSean and his agent are doing, I don't know about. I just want him to play well," Jason Avant said. The Eagles receiver then added with a laugh: "If he needs money to play well, give it to him."

Watkins, Young to start

Danny Watkins is expected to be the only starting offensive lineman to play in Thursday's preseason finale at the New York Jets.

"I asked for it," Watkins said.

The question is whether the rookie right guard beat his coaches to the punch. Watkins has struggled in three preseason games, and there's only one more game opportunity before the season opener Sept. 11.

Center Jason Kelce, also a rookie, isn't expected to play Thursday. Eagles coach Andy Reid usually rests his starters in the fourth preseason game. But Watkins arrived at training camp a week late because of contract negotiations and is still relatively new to football.

With Watkins running with the second team Tuesday, Kelce said he took some first-team repetitions at right guard.

"They want to make sure I know all the positions on the field," said Kelce, who beat out veteran Jamaal Jackson for the starting center job. "And part of it is, depending on how many guys are traveling on a given week, they want to make sure that if some drastic things happen I can move out to guard possibly."

Jackson handled snaps with Kelce at right guard. Jackson said that he did not know if he was playing Thursday. Jackson could be a potential trade chip for the Eagles.

Middle linebacker Casey Matthews is another rookie starter expected to play. So are kicker Alex Henery and punter Chas Henry.

The rest of the starters will be given the game off. Quarterback Vince Young confirmed that he will start and play the first half, and Mike Kafka will be under center for the second half.

"I just want to go out there and manage the game, put points on the scoreboard, and show Coach and them that I'm a good backup quarterback," Young said.

Extra point

Cornerback Isaiah Truffant was released, trimming the Eagles roster to 80. They need to get to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

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