Free Agency Round-up: Quick Thoughts on DeSean's Extension

Free Agency Round-up: Quick Thoughts on DeSean's Extension

1. Only $15 million guaranteed.

Was a long-term deal the right way to go with DeSean Jackson? There are a lot of questions out there right now, about his performance, about his durability, about his attitude. The franchise tag seemed like the safe way to go, because even though it was a ton of cash, it was only for one year.

Naturally, folks tend to focus on the five years and $51 million part, but the general consensus in the media is this was a safe contract for DJacc. Just $15 million of the sum is fully guaranteed, most of that over the next two seasons. That means if Jackson becomes a problem in the locker room, or his ability falls off a cliff, the Eagles can still get away after a couple years.

When you look at it like that, Jackson has all the incentive in the world to produce at a high level, and be a model teammate. If the Eagles have to remove him, he will never even see 50% of that money, nor another contract like it ever again.

2. The market was set.

Say what you want about it being too much money, but the market says otherwise. Vincent Jackson, whose best season is not significantly better than DeSean's, took five years, $55 million off the Bucs -- $26 guaranteed. Pierre Garcon, the poor man's version of DeSean, received five years, $42.5 million from the Redskins -- $20.5 guaranteed. Marques Colston, the man of 1,004 knee surgeries, will earn $40 mil over the next five -- $19 guaranteed.

Even receivers with far lesser deals received similar or more bonus money. Stevie Johnson: $19.5 guaranteed. Laurent Robinson: $14. Robert Meachem: $14.

Say what you will about those players. Some of them you might take over DeSean, others still have to prove it. You can't look at Jackson's accolades over his four-year NFL career and say he doesn't deserve to be paid like these players though.

3. Frees up over $6 million in cap space.

Remember when we said the Eagles should dump Asante Samuel fast to create some breathing room? Forget it.

Jackson's new deal carries a paltry $3 million cap hit in 2012, $6.6 million less than it would have been had he signed the franchise tender. Take into consideration the additional $6 million the team saved by removing Winston Justice and Jamaal Jackson, and suddenly they are playing with a lot of money.

Which hasn't amounted to much in free agency, yet. Evan Mathis remains on the market, as do a bunch of quality middle linebackers. The front office is also said to be in negotiations with LeSean McCoy.

It sure seems like they are gearing up for something.

- Speaking of Mathis, he traveled to Baltimore last night to visit the Ravens. It seems Carl Nicks leaving New Orleans for Tampa Bay has caused a ripple effect at guard. Baltimore's Ben Grubbs joined the Saints, and now Philly's Mathis could wind up replacing him. Problem is, there aren't really any great options for replacing Mathis.

It's too early to panic. If Mathis was genuine about wanting to return, he should give the Birds a chance to match whatever offers come his way. But as the old free agency adage goes, once you get 'em in the building, don't let 'em leave -- and Mathis is in their building.

- The other big five-year, $50 million signing for Eagles fans happened 1,500 miles away in Arlington, where the Dallas Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr away from the Chiefs. Dallas parted ways with long-time corner Terence Newman to make room for Carr, a 26 year old who is solid, but not a star or anything.

The Cowboys, who were a little desperate for secondary help, also added safety Brodney Pool, a player we hoped the Eagles might target for depth.

- The Giants fired the first shot of 2012 against one of their NFC East rivals. New York agreed to a one-year deal with Cowboys' backup tight end Martellus Bennett, though he figures to be much more than that for the G-men. Jake Ballard tore his ACL in the Super Bowl, which makes Bennett the front-runner to start. He has 85 catches for 846 yards and four TD's in a four-year career.

- Dimitri Patterson sighting: the Browns re-signed Patterson to a three-year deal after spending last season as their nickel corner. You may recall Patterson spent half a season in the Birds' starting lineup, to mostly disastrous results.

- Breaking update: the Redskins continue to slap together a makeshift roster in the wake of their devastating cap penalty, this time adding safety Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather, who was thought to be an Eagles' draft target back in '07, has gone from Pro Bowler to pin-balling around the league in one astonishing year.

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

The Phillies made a couple quiet additions as the winter meetings ended, signing veteran outfielder Daniel Nava and lefty reliever Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts.

Nava, 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield corners and first base. He came up with the Red Sox and became a fan favorite in Boston in 2010 as a 27-year-old rookie. Some Phillies fans will remember him for hitting a grand slam off Joe Blanton in his first major-league plate appearance.

Nava had a few decent years in Boston, the best of which was 2013, when he had 536 plate appearances and hit .303/.385/.445 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 66 RBIs. 

Nava's numbers and opportunities have dropped every year since. He was designated for assignment by Boston in 2015, latched on with the Rays, signed the next year with the Angels and was traded late in the season to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons, Nava has hit just .208, albeit with an on-base percentage 99 points higher because of his 30 walks and 10 hit by pitches.

Burnett, 34, has spent five of the last seven seasons in the Nationals' bullpen. He had a 2.85 ERA in 283 appearances from 2009-12 and parlayed that success into a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Angels. However, he barely pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Halos because of an elbow tear. He returned to the Nats last season and allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings.

Burnett, perhaps more so than Nava, has a chance to fill a role with the Phillies if he can stay healthy. He's shown he can get outs at the highest level, posting a 2.38 ERA in 2012 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 in 2010. That was a long time ago now, and Burnett's fastball has dipped from averaging 90-91 mph to 88.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Burnett will receive a $1.25 million salary if he makes the team and can earn another $1.75 million in incentives based on his number of appearances.

Burnett has an opt-out date of March 26, meaning he can become a free agent a week before the regular season begins if it looks to him like he isn't in the Phils' plans.

Nava's chances at cracking the opening-day roster seem longer because the Phillies are expected to make more depth signings between now and the start of camp. They've prioritized finding some offense in the corner outfield and that could come in the form of more minor-league deals, a guaranteed contract or trade. One potential fit I examined last week was Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, a hitter more proven than Nava (see story).

These minor-league deals were commonplace for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak last offseason, when the only free agent he signed to a major-league deal was reliever David Hernandez. 

Last season, three players who were signed to minor-league deals with invites to spring training made the team on opening day: outfielder Cedric Hunter, utilityman Emmanuel Burriss and reliever James Russell.

Others, such as former closers Edward Mujica, Ernesto Frieri and Andrew Bailey, failed to make the team out of camp. Bailey eventually earned a call-up; the other two didn't.

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixers point guard and Meek Mill collaborator Lou Williams is enjoying quite the run off the bench for the Lakers recently.

Over Los Angeles' last four games, Williams has posted totals of 40, 38, 24, and 35 points. 

The six-man is averaging 34.5 points per game over the stretch, and his 137 points are the most off the bench in a four-game span by any player since 1970-71, when stats were first recorded, per Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN. Williams is now averaging 19.3 points this season, which is 4.4 more than his highest average with the Sixers.

Williams isn’t the only player who used to play for the Sixers that is playing well for the Lakers this year. Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who also comes off the bench, is averaging 13.3 points per game. Just a few weeks ago, Swaggy P stole a pass intended for Lou Williams, and then proceeded to hit a game winner against the Thunder. Swaggy P, however, is currently sidelined with a right calf strain, but is getting closer to a return.

"Lou Will" was also talked about last April during Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game, when he was beefing on Twitter with another former Philadelphia athlete, LeSean McCoy.