Right now, DeSean Jackson is a wide receiver, a Philadelphia Eagle, and a young, exciting player with a history of making questionable decisions. A few months from now, he will still be all those things, except maybe a Philadelphia Eagle.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it's likely that the Eagles will hit Jackson with the franchise tag (they can't officially do this until Feb. 20), which would pay Jackson a little over $10 million for one season. It would keep Jackson in an Eagles uniform right now, but leaves his long-term Philly future up in the air. The franchise tag, in this case, is really just an indication that the Eagles aren't ready to commit to Jackson long-term.
So why would the Eagles, who were wide receiver deficient for so long, want to part ways with a 25-year-old speed merchant who has led the team in receiving for the last four years?
Well, Jackson has made things complicated. He's not coming off a great year. For the first time since his rookie season, he came up short of 1,000 yards and had only four touchdowns. It's not as simple as just a lack of production, either ‒ it's the maybe not-so-great decisions Jackson has made that led to that substandard production.
He held out last season, hoping for a contract extension that wasn't coming. He got himself deactivated for a game by missing a team meeting. He drew a huge penalty by tossing a football at a Giants assistant coach. He dropped his share of balls in 2011, which again landed him on the bench.
There's also a history of concussions, including this nasty one in 2010 sustained at the hands of Dunta Robinson.
The Eagles are in a tight spot, and it's decisions like these that shape a franchise for years to come. Jackson wants to be paid like one of the best receivers in the league, but is he that? Is he worth that much of a financial commitment? If you're going to bank on this guy for years to come, you're pretty much taking his word that he can be a model citizen, because he hasn't demonstrated that.
But on the other hand, life might be difficult without him, too. When he's at his best, he changes games. He singlehandedly adds a big-play element to an offense. Would Jeremy Maclin be as effective if he was facing the opposition's top corner every week? Would LeSean McCoy have the same running lanes? Doesn't it behoove an offense to have such a downfield threat with Michael Vick's cannon arm under center?
There's a lot riding on this decision for the Eagles.
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