Eagles' Jackson wants a new contract

Posted: January 08, 2014

BOY, WHO didn't see this coming?

In the least surprising news since the announcement of Lindsay Lohan's last rehab visit, DeSean Jackson said yesterday that he wants to have his 22-month-old contract restructured.

There has been no reaction yet from Keenan Lewis.

The Eagles wide receiver signed a 5-year, $48.3 million contract in March 2012 that included a $10 million signing bonus. His base salary this season was $6.75 million. It is scheduled to jump to $10.25 million next season. But just $250,000 of that $10.25 million is guaranteed. None of the $9.75 million he's scheduled to receive in each of the final 2 years of his deal is guaranteed.

"I'm going into the third year of my deal," Jackson said. "I feel deserving [of a raise]. I feel my agent [Joel Segal] is a great agent who will be able to do what he needs to do to maybe work something out. We'll see how it goes.

"I feel I've proven everything on the field as far as doing the things on the field that the top receivers do. I feel I'm right there near the top. With no distractions, I really put it out there for my teammates."

We've seen how Jackson plays when he's distracted, and that's not very well. Between his concern over the multiple concussions he suffered in 2009-10, and the sulking he did during an earlier contract dispute with the Eagles, Jackson had just seven touchdown catches and five 100-yard receiving performances in a 33-game stretch from the middle of the 2010 season through 2012.

He missed the final five games of the '12 season with fractured ribs and finished with a career-low 45 catches and just two touchdowns.

But he blossomed in Chip Kelly's offense this season. With Kelly moving him around a lot more than Andy Reid did, Jackson caught a career-high 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson's 25 catches of 20 yards or more were the second most in the league.

But he finished the '13 season not with a bang, but with a whimper. Caught just 10 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown in the final three games, including Saturday's 26-24 playoff loss to the Saints.

Jackson caught just three passes for 53 yards against the Saints. All three of those catches came after the aforementioned Lewis, the Saints cornerback who had shut him down all night, left the game with a concussion with 3:06 left in the third quarter.

The truth is the Eagles are as interested in restructuring Jackson's deal as he is. His 2014 salary cap number is a hefty $12.5 million. But Jackson wants to do more than just move numbers around to save the Eagles some cap space. He wants more guaranteed money, preferably in the form of another up-front signing or roster bonus.

How willing the Eagles will be to do that for a 5-10, 175-pound guy who has caught more than 62 passes just once in six NFL seasons remains to be seen.

"This year, a lot of people doubted me to say I couldn't get back to where I was at as far as top 10 stats and things like that," Jackson said.

"This year was a big statement for my team and for myself and the things I was able to accomplish and do.

"I feel very confident that my agent will work something out. That's what he's for and that's what his job is. All I have to worry about is staying out of trouble and keeping my nose clean and doing the things I need to do - working on my craft and playing football."

Jackson's current deal was negotiated by Drew Rosenhaus. But he and Rosenhaus parted ways last spring, in large part because Jackson allegedly failed to repay $400,000 in loans the agent made to him before he signed his current deal. Rosenhaus filed a grievance with the NFL Players Association over the unpaid loans last summer. The matter still hasn't been resolved.

A month after the split with Rosenhaus, Jackson hired Segal. Segal failed to return phone calls to the Daily News yesterday.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman declined to comment on Jackson's desire to have his contract restructured.

"We don't talk about contract matters," Roseman said. "I think it's important that we keep those things in-house."

Of Jackson, Roseman said, "He had a heckuva year and he's a good player. I think DeSean worked extremely hard this whole season and played well."

Jackson may not be the only prominent Eagles player looking to have his contract restructured this offseason. Running back LeSean McCoy is coming off a season in which he won the NFL rushing title and also led the league in yards from scrimmage.

He signed his 5-year, $45 million deal just 2 months after Jackson inked his. The one big difference, though, is that McCoy's deal included $6 million more in guarantees than Jackson's. McCoy is scheduled to earn $8 million next season, but unlike Jackson's 2014 salary, most of McCoy's is guaranteed.

There's no disputing that Jackson had a very good season. But shouldn't some consideration be given to the previous two seasons when he underperformed? Shouldn't some consideration be given to the fact that, in the three playoff games he's played in since his rookie season, he has just eight catches for 114 yards and one touchdown?

His $9.7 million contract average is the eighth-highest among the league's wide receivers, behind Calvin Johnson of the Lions ($16.2 million), Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals ($16.1 million), Percy Harvin of the Seahawks ($12.8 million), Mike Wallace of the Dolphins ($12.8 million), Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs ($11.2 million), Brandon Marshall of the Bears ($11.2 million) and Vincent Jackson of the Bucs ($11.1 million). That seems about right given his career numbers.

It will be interesting to see what Roseman and the Eagles do. Roseman has proven to be much warmer and fuzzier in his contract dealings with players and their agents than Joe "Mr. Burns" Banner was.

Roseman understands the locker-room repercussions of an unhappy player. Banner couldn't have cared less about that. Banner's hardcore stance with Jackson the last time around was one of the biggest reasons he's in Cleveland now.

But that doesn't mean the Eagles are just going to give Jackson whatever he wants. Nor should they.

"I think the city feels pretty good regardless of getting stopped short [in the playoffs]," Jackson said after cleaning out his locker yesterday. "I think they have something good to look forward to.

"So hopefully, as far as contracts and everything like that, people will be able to stay around. There's some good people in this locker room. We've become a family this year. Hopefully, everybody just gets what they deserve and be able to come back and just focus on football."

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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