Eagles hopeful about keeping DeSean

GM Howie Roseman says he is optimistic the Eagles can work out a way to keep DeSean Jackson on the team.
GM Howie Roseman says he is optimistic the Eagles can work out a way to keep DeSean Jackson on the team. (LES BOWEN / DAILY NEWS STAFF)
Posted: February 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - The Eagles haven't written DeSean Jackson out of their future.

That was the upshot from general manager Howie Roseman's comments to reporters yesterday at the NFL scouting combine. Roseman didn't say the Birds definitely will franchise their game-changing wideout, and he didn't say they will sign him to a long-term deal. But he spoke of intending to sit down with Jackson and agent Drew Rosenhaus, and Roseman envisioned a future in which Jackson is an Eagle.

"I think we've been very vocal about the fact that we think he's got a great future, and we're excited about the possibilities for DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia, but we also want to communicate with his representatives and him before we kind of voice the direction we're going in," Roseman said.

Later, in a session away from the podium with Philadelphia-area reporters, someone mentioned to Roseman that his words on Jackson probably would be construed as optimistic. There has been speculation that, given Jackson's demands and his disappointing 2011 season, the team might look to franchise and trade him, or even just let him leave as an unrestricted free agent.

"I'm an optimistic guy," Roseman said.

An attempt to read between the lines brings a couple of conclusions: The Eagles probably want to get a feel for exactly what Jackson's attitude will be if they ask him to play under the $9.5 million wideout franchise tag this season. When the 2011 season ended, Jackson said this wouldn't be a problem, but his comment in the postgame locker room was hardly signed and notarized. And the Birds are leery of what they think has happened in the past in protracted, convoluted negotiations - they think sometimes their proposals and the intent behind them lose something in the translation through the agent to the player. They want to say what they have to say to Jackson face to face.

"I think we just want to make sure that for all our players, including DeSean, that they're getting the message through us and not through the media, and we want to communicate with them; just like in any area of business, you want to make sure that the people that you're dealing with hear it from you, and it's important to us that we do it that way," Roseman said.

Asked whether he intended to meet with Rosenhaus in Indianapolis, Roseman said, "I expect to meet with a lot of representatives of players on our team."

Here are some other topics Roseman touched upon in a session that included his foreshadowing the news later yesterday that the Birds had agreed to terms with former Bills quarterback Trent Edwards:

* Roseman echoed other talent evaluators here in saying he thinks offensive line is the strongest position grouping in the 2012 draft. He said defensive end is a relative weak spot. Of course, offensive line might be the spot where the Eagles have the least need.

* Asked how likely it is that cornerback Asante Samuel remains an Eagle in 2012, Roseman called Samuel "a big-time playmaker who handles everything like a pro . . . We're fortunate to have him as an Eagle." Which, of course, wasn't the question.

* Roseman indicated the Eagles are very interested in re-signing pending free-agent defensive tackle Derek Landri and guard Evan Mathis, but he said that since those players signed 1-year deals for the veteran minimum last year, the Birds must wait until free agency begins March 13 to re-sign them. He said rules prohibit them from getting reworked contracts during the same league year that they are playing under the veteran minimum. Mathis saw on Twitter that Roseman had said this and promptly tweeted that he and Landri were headed to the Arena League's Allen (Texas) Wranglers. (He was joking.)

* As he has done in several appearances lately, Roseman talked about still having great expectations for defensive end Brandon Graham. Graham spent much of the season coming back from his 2010 ACL tear, as Jason Pierre-Paul, taken by the Giants two slots after Graham in the 2010 draft, developed into the dominant key to a Super Bowl championship.

"I think Brandon's using it as a motivating factor," Roseman said, when asked about the juxtaposition of the two. "He's trying to be the kind of player that we know and he knows he can be and he sees that out there and he wants more for himself."

* Roseman extolled quarterback Michael Vick as "an immensely talented player, who has got a great work ethic. He's somebody that's trying to get better, that wants to get better, that's going to study, that's going to prepare, and now he's got an opportunity to be our starting quarterback in an offseason program. He's not locked out of the building like he was last year. He wasn't a backup like he was 2 years ago. He wasn't coming off of the street like he was 3 years ago, so that's going to be valuable."

* Roseman was questioned about the Eagles' attitude toward difference-making linebackers. He agreed that the wide-nine defensive front might mean the Birds need to look at different qualities in linebacker draftees than they prioritized previously. "There are priority positions in the NFL. If you ask me, if there's a quarterback and a linebacker [who are impact players], we are going to take the quarterback over the linebacker, no question," Roseman said. "But by the same token, I've never been part of a draft where we've gone in and said, 'This linebacker's great! We're not going to take him!' Sometimes it hasn't worked that way. Sometimes it just so happened that the class of linebackers in the draft hasn't kind of met up to where we're picking, but we're open to really good players at every position."

* Roseman was asked about players such as Winston Justice and Jamaal Jackson, who are expected to be released. He was noncommital, saying there would be a time when the team would need to meet with those players. He indicated he wanted them to hear about what the team's plans are from him, as with contract negotiations.

Read the Daily News' Eagles blog at www.eagletarian.com.

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