DeSean Jacksons new contract is a win-win for both the player and the team.
Jackson gets a five-year deal worth a reported 51 million with 15 million guaranteed and the Eagles get a contract that will be more favorably structured for them this season (see story).
By signing Jackson to a longer term deal, they remove him from the one-year franchise tag which would have paid him 9.4 million. That will allow the team to reduce his cap number for this season which will give them more money to spend on free agents or re-signing their own players.
Wednesdays announcement was the latest step in the Eagles securing the future of key veterans. On Tuesday, the first day of the NFL free agency period, the Eagles announced they signed offensive tackle Todd Herremans and defensive end Trent Cole to new deals. Now they add Jackson to the list.
It isnt that surprising when you consider the windfalls other receivers collected in the first hours of free agency.
Vincent Jackson signed with Tampa Bay for five years, 55 million. That wasnt so shocking considering he was the best receiver on the market and the Buccaneers were a reported 60 million under the cap.
Detroits Calvin Johnson signed a whopping eight-year deal with the Lions that could pay him as much as 132 million but he is arguably the best receiver in the game and the face of the franchise.
However, when Pierre Garcon signed with Washington, a free agent deal for five years worth a reported 42.5 million with 21.5 million guaranteed, that may have started the ball rolling for the Eagles to finally get the Jackson matter resolved.
Garcon is a nice player, but he was never a No. 1 receiver in Indianapolis and did not have a single 1,000 yard season with the Colts. If he is worth that much to Washington, clearly, DeSean Jackson is worth more to the Eagles. It made sense to get this done.
There were times last season when it appeared the Eagles and Jackson were headed in opposite directions. Playing on the final year of his contract and making no secret of his unhappiness, he had a down season. His average yards per catch fell from 22.5 in 2010 to 16.6 and he had only two 100-yard games (none after Week Four). He was a non-factor in the red zone.
He became enough of a headache, showing up late for meetings and sulking, that coach Andy Reid deactivated him for the Arizona game. Without Jackson, the Eagles offense died against the Cardinals. Mike Vick passed for just 128 yards in a 21-17 loss at the Linc.
It demonstrated how much the threat of Jacksons speed impacted the way defenses played against the Eagles. The Cardinals played their safeties so close to the line of scrimmage that day, the Eagles could hardly breath. They were three for 15 on third down.
But even when Jackson came back, he dropped some balls and short-armed others and there was the night in Seattle when he appeared disinterested during the 31-14 loss to the Seahawks. At 4-8, there was a feeling that a major shakeup was coming to the Eagles and when the shaking was done, DeSean would be gone.
But the Eagles turned things around in the final month, winning all four games, and Jackson was a contributor with 15 catches and two touchdowns. Reid made a point of complimenting Jackson after the season for the way he conducted himself down the stretch. Fences were mended and, it would seem, lessons were learned.
The Eagles put the franchise tag on Jackson to keep him from hitting the free agent market and, to be honest, I thought thats how it would stay for the 2012 season.
I thought the Eagles would use this season to evaluate everything the coach, the staff, the quarterback, the whole thing with Jackson a big part of it and then decide based on the teams performance, whether to blow it all up or stay the course.
But the team chose to give Jackson a five year contract which means he wont have to deal with any questions about his future during the season. He can just concentrate on playing football which should certainly help. And the Eagles got him for what is a fair price given the booming market for wide receivers.
It is good news all around and, who knows, maybe by getting this deal worked out with Drew Rosenhaus, it will create such a feeling of good will that the Eagles and Drew can get a new contract done for LeSean McCoy sometime soon.
E-mail Ray Didinger at firstname.lastname@example.org