Does Eagles' D-Jax deserve a new deal?

Posted: March 07, 2014

DeSEAN JACKSON was upset about his contract in 2011, quit on the team and admitted it. This is all in the public record. When the Eagles decided to bring him back with a team-friendly, 5-year contract in 2012, everybody knew all of this and still signed on for the journey.

Jackson needed the cash. The Eagles, on the eve of Andy Reid's final season, were determined to give the coach everything he needed to take his last shot. General manager Howie Roseman was beginning to create his image as the anti-Banner, and this was an important initial step. So.

In January 2014, after two seasons under the new deal, Jackson made it pretty plain that he wanted to renegotiate the contract. You remember: The resulting conversation was measured not so much in decibels but by Richter. This was the quote:

"I definitely feel it's something deserving. We'll see how that plays out, and hopefully we can work things out smoothly and not have to worry about anything out of the ordinary.

"But I definitely feel like it's deserving. I'm proven in this league, and after this past year, went out there, no distractions, and just really put it all in for my team and went out there and had a lot of success, so we'll see how it goes."

For 2 months after the initial uproar, things were quiet. Then Riley Cooper signed a new deal and Jeremy Maclin signed a new deal and now the DeSean pot is being restirred, vigorously. What any of this really means is unknown. Where Jackson stands with his exquisitely veiled threat - " . . . hopefully we can work things out smoothly and not have to worry about anything out of the ordinary" - is between him and the Eagles at this point.

With that, two points need to be emphasized.

One, that given what all of the decision-makers knew when they signed Jackson to the 5-year deal, it makes no sense to bail out at the first sign of rough weather - because history pretty plainly suggested that some rough weather with this particular player was inevitable.

And, two, that coach Chip Kelly was not a party to any of the decision-making made by the Eagles in 2012.

Kelly has not spoken publicly since the end of the season, but reliable sources say that he remains among us. It goes without saying that we have no earthly idea what he thinks about all of this. Jackson had an excellent season in 2013, as did pretty much every other offensive weapon deployed by Kelly in his new scheme. How much Kelly attributes this to his genius and how much he attributes to Jackson's ability is between the coach and himself.

The point is, we do not know whether Kelly would be willing to ride out a squall, if Jackson were to create one, because he was not here when the initial decision about Jackson's contract was made. Whatever Kelly believes has been accomplished in the area of team chemistry in his first season would be challenged, potentially, if Jackson were to push his contract demands. What we don't know is how Kelly quantifies that risk.

Then there is the whole question of valuing Jackson as a player. He is not big but he remains explosive - a better player on first down than on third; a better player in the middle of the field than in the red zone. Added up, it seems to me that Jackson still has speed and still draws enough double-coverage that his value - both to him and his teammates - is significant.

But what does Chip think?

The Eagles are unlikely to redo Jackson's deal, especially this early into the term. So what happens from here? Everything in life and in football is a risk/reward calculation, and DeSean Jackson is no different. He continues to bring an explosive element to an offense. He continues, too, to fixate on his contract and feel that it does not reflect his worth.

How this all plays out in the coming months is worth watching - for the challenges it presents to building a winner, and for the creativity it might take to solve a problem of employee relations, and for the way the head coach, still very much a man of mystery, decides to proceed.

In many ways, it will tell you as much about Chip Kelly as it does about DeSean Jackson.

On Twitter: @theidlerich


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