Further Review: DeSean Jackson's contract situation a big deal

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson thinks he is underpaid.
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson thinks he is underpaid. (CLEM MURRAY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: November 15, 2011

I'M PERFECTLY fine with Andy Reid making DeSean Jackson inactive for Sunday's game after Jackson missed a special-teams meeting Saturday. That's why you have rules.

What I'm not fine with is everything that came before that.

Here's the deal: The Eagles knew why DeSean was still there for them to take, 49th overall in the 2008 draft. It wasn't because he lacked talent. It was because he was small, and he had been a pain in the butt at Cal. But they drafted him and basked in the glory when he became a high first-round-level player. How clever they were!

For two seasons now, it has been apparent Jackson is seriously underpaid. The Eagles' response has been to dither. Last year, they couldn't possibly do a deal because of complications arising from the expiring CBA. This year, apparently they don't think agent Drew Rosenhaus has been reasonable in his assessment of where Jackson ranks among NFL wideouts. After all, Jackson is small, it turns out, and he also can be a pain in the butt.

After this latest blowup, it sure seems we are on the road to something like the Birds' franchising Jackson to keep him from leaving in free agency, then trading him, probably for something not all that wonderful, given the season he is having and the contract situation.

News flash, Eagles: If you end up trading a devalued DeSean for a handful of beans, it reflects on you. It potentially cripples your offense, and tarnishes one of your few early-round draft successes. Maybe down at the Cap-Managers Guild meetings, you get slaps on the back for holding the line, for not overpaying a guy who definitely is not Larry Fitzgerald, or even Santonio Holmes, on a consistent basis. But will not paying DeSean help you win games? Is having him brood and frown distractedly through 2011 OK, because at least you didn't overpay? I mean, all the other guys you did give the big money to this year are lighting it up for you, right?

"Me not being myself, it's been hard to come to work and be happy, just because of everything that's happened," Jackson told reporters yesterday, after addressing his teammates. He said a lot of other stuff, too, about not thinking the punishment was too harsh, and not faulting Reid, but the underlying theme was, not getting the contract done has been a big, big deal for Jackson, a guy who measures his status among his peers by the size of his paycheck, a guy who is exactly the same person now as he was when the Eagles decided to take him on in 2008.

I asked Reid yesterday whether he thought he had handled Jackson's situation well. And I actually got an honest answer, far as it went.

"I can do better," Reid said. "If it came down to what it came down to, I can obviously do a better job there, too."

But do Joe Banner and Howie Roseman think they could have done better?

DEVELOPING STORY LINES

* Watching the fourth quarter on DVR late Sunday, I was struck by how well the defense played overall, right up until Nnamdi Asomugha lined up with both feet across the blue line at the bottom of my TV screen, negating a third-down stop on the tying touchdown drive. After that, everything turned upside down. "Things happen. That's the human element," Andy Reid said yesterday, when asked how such a thing can possibly occur. "It doesn't happen very often, and really, throughout the league. I'd tell you that Larry [Fitzgerald, the wideout Asomugha is presscovering] is [lined up] a little bit deeper than he normally is, and then Nnamdi needs to check exactly where his alignment is."

* Hey, the Eagles stopped the run Sunday. One-legged Beanie Wells gained just 62 yards on 23 carries. Wheee!

* Riley Cooper finally got some time in the offense. Contributed a drop and a false start.

* Yes, the ball that hit Joselio Hanson and bounced to Larry Fitzgerald for the tying touchdown was a bad break. But plenty of breaks went the Eagles' way - the two Vick interceptions that didn't count, the two missed Jay Feely field goals, and the awful Steve Smith punt muff that the Eagles recovered.

OBSCURE STAT

Thanks to their prolific fourth quarter, the Cards outgained the Eagles for the game Sunday, 370 yards to 289. That's the biggest yardage deficit for the Eagles since Jan. 9, 2010, the 34-14 playoff loss to the Cowboys, who outgained the Birds, 426-340, in Donovan McNabb's final Eagles outing.

WHO KNEW?

That you could compile 26 sacks in nine games without ever getting one when the game is on the line? John Skelton was sacked four times Sunday, none of them on the two pivotal fourth-quarter TD drives.

EXTRA POINT

Met a really interesting guy last February while covering Super Bowl week. Ray Horton was coaching the Steelers' defensive backs. He was one of a handful of defensive assistants for the Steelers and the Packers rumored to be candidates for the Eagles' then-open defensive coordinator job. Open, that is, until the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, when Andy Reid moved offensive line coach Juan Castillo to d-coordinator.

It has been reported that Reid tried to hire Rob Ryan, who thought he had already committed to the Cowboys, and that Jim Mora Jr. turned Reid down. Maybe there were other guys who declined. We know that Reid was determined to bring in Jim Washburn and the wide-nine, so that might have been a bit of a deal-breaker.

But Reid made his choice before any of the Super Bowl assistants were available to be interviewed. Horton, by the way, did get a coordinator's job that next week - in Arizona. His Cardinals did a better job of shutting down Reid's offense Sunday than anyone has all season.

I was just reading what I wrote when Castillo was hired, last Feb. 2. I was incredulous that Reid thought Castillo swapping ideas with the late Jim Johnson and scheming against defenses as an offensive-line coach had prepared Juan to run this defense. There is so much nuance, so much detail involved in making adjustments during a game. During a fourth quarter, say, when the other team starts moving around Larry Fitzgerald to get him open.

Bad idea then. Season-defining disaster now.

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