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.

Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

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Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

Villanova’s chances at repeating as national champions just got much better.

Josh Hart is returning for his senior season.

The Wildcats’ leading scorer from last season’s title-winning team tweeted this Tuesday night:

Shortly after, Villanova officially announced the news.

Hart was in the midst of going through the NBA draft process, attending the combine in Chicago and working out for teams. By not hiring an agent, he was able to test the waters without jeopardizing his final year of college eligibility. Hart had until Wednesday to make a decision, which is coming back to the defending champs.

“I enjoyed the process and learned a lot,” Hart said in a statement released by the school. “It was definitely worthwhile. I look forward to graduating next year and coming back to play with my teammates.”

As a junior, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. He put up 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Villanova’s 95-51 Final Four win over Oklahoma, before following it up with 12 points and eight rebounds in the national title game in which the Wildcats thrillingly won at the buzzer, 77-74, on a Kris Jenkins three-pointer.

Hart and Jenkins, the team’s two leading scorers, return along with key pieces Jalen Brunson (9.6 ppg), Phil Booth (7.0 ppg), Mikal Bridges (6.4 ppg) and Darryl Reynolds (4.5 rpg).

“Josh Hart did a great job in this process,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “I’m really proud of the way that he showed himself. I am really happy for him that he is returning to play with his classmates and that he will graduate on time.” 

Instant Replay: Tigers 3, Phillies 1

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AP

Instant Replay: Tigers 3, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — What figures to be the Phillies’ most challenging road trip so far is not off to a good start.
 
The Phillies lost for the second time in as many nights to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander manhandled the Phillies in leading his team to a 3-1 victory.
 
The Phillies were held to just three hits in the first eight innings. They rallied for a run on two hits and a sacrifice fly by Tommy Joseph after Verlander had exited in the ninth.
 
The Phils have lost four out of their last five games and are 25-21 on the season.
 
After a slow start, the Tigers have come alive. They have won eight of their last nine.
 
The series ends Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies open a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Friday. They have the best record in the majors.
 
Starting pitching report
Jeremy Hellickson delivered a very solid start of seven innings and three runs, but received no run support. He walked just one and struck out seven.
 
Hellickson has allowed just five earned runs over 20 innings in his last three starts. He has walked just three batters and struck out 20 over that span.
 
Verlander gave up just two singles and a double over eight shutout innings. He walked two and struck out 10.
 
Verlander’s 108th and final pitch of the game was a 97 mph fastball past Odubel Herrera.
 
Bullpen report
Detroit closer Francisco Rodriguez survived a shaky ninth for the save. He squandered his team’s shutout bid by allowing the Phillies’ only run.
 
The save was Francisco’s 400th. He is the sixth pitcher in big-league history to reach that milestone.
 
At the plate
Ryan Howard entered the night hitting .083 (4 for 48) in the month of May. Three of those hits were homers and the other was a double. Howard had not had a single since April 29, a span of 19 games. He ended the singles drought with a base hit against Verlander in the second inning.
 
Howard popped out, struck out and grounded out in his next three at-bats as his average actually climbed to .159.
 
Howard batted fifth and Joseph hit fourth. Joseph, who had a homer and a double in Monday night’s game, stung the ball right at the shortstop and leftfielder, respectively, in his first two at-bats before singling in his third at-bat. He lined a sacrifice fly to left for the Phils’ only run in the ninth.
 
Freddy Galvis doubled twice for the Phils.
 
Miguel Cabrera, who had two homers and a double on Monday night, continued to scorch the Phils. He doubled home a run in the first inning and plated another with a groundout in the sixth. Victor Martinez, who drove in the go-ahead run Monday night, drove in the Tigers’ third run with a single in the sixth.
 
In the field
Catcher Carlos Ruiz threw out two runners trying to steal second.
 
Third baseman Maikel Franco unsuccessfully tried to backhand a bounding ball from J.D. Martinez in the sixth inning. If Franco makes the play, he probably starts an around-the-horn double play. Instead, it got by him, was generously scored a double and led to the Tigers’ second run of the game.
 
Minor matters
Cody Asche, rehabbing from an oblique strain with the Double A Reading club, hit a two-run home run Tuesday night.
 
Up next
The series concludes Wednesday afternoon. Aaron Nola (3-3, 2.85) starts for the Phillies against Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 6.23).

NFL Notes: Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles awarded Super Bowls

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NFL Notes: Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles awarded Super Bowls

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you spend billions of dollars to build it, they will come.

Three times over.

The NFL awarded Super Bowls to Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles, three cities that made significant financial investments in new stadiums or recently upgraded an existing one. Atlanta will host the game in 2019, followed by Miami (2020) and Los Angeles (2021), it was announced Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.

"I think if they find guys like me that are willing to do it, I think they want to show them that it is worthwhile," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said.

Atlanta will host its third Super Bowl, but the first at its new $1.4 billion stadium which opens in 2017. The previous two were at the Georgia Dome.

Miami will have its record-setting 11th Super Bowl following a $450 million stadium renovation.

Los Angeles, which gets the relocated Rams this season, has not had a Super Bowl in the area since 1993 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game will be played at the new $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, which opens in 2019.

Tampa Bay and New Orleans were also in the running to host a Super Bowl (see full story).

Steelers: Bell believes Bengals targeted him
PITTSBURGH -- Le'Veon Bell considers the first injury of his NFL career -- a sprained foot in a preseason game three years ago -- a freak accident.

The last two? Not so much.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back took the field with his teammates Tuesday for the first time since tearing the MCL in his right knee last November against Cincinnati. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict twisted Bell awkwardly as the two tumbled out of bounds just a few yards away from where Bell's 2014 season ended after taking a shot to the same knee from Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson.

Burfict celebrated openly as Bell writhed in pain, a memory that lingers even after Burfict reached out on social media in March to express support as Bell worked his way through rehab.

"Obviously it looked like they were happy about it," Bell said. "I'll take the liberty of just thinking everybody plays just football to love the game. But people aren't out here playing like that. People are playing to take people out. Obviously I know that now" (see full story).

Cardinals: Fitzgerald not thinking beyond this season
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald has been an Arizona Cardinal all 12 of his NFL seasons, breaking every franchise receiving record along the way.

Now, he enters the final year of a two-year, $22 million contract, and he said Tuesday that he doesn't even think about whether he will play football beyond this season, with the Cardinals or anyone else.

"We're just in OTAs right now, man," he said. "We've got training camp and minicamp and the regular season. We've got a long ways to go before that's even a point of discussion. So I'm enjoying this. I'm trying to make it the best year yet."

Fitzgerald will turn 33 before next season begins. And last season proved he remains one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL.

"I think Larry has a lot of tread left on the tire," Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "Obviously he's in the last year of his deal. That's out of my pay scale. But obviously I think he's still got juice in the system" (see full story).