For the low, low price of $3.058 million, DeSean Jackson will play in 57 games and counting over four seasons for your football club. He'll catch 219 passes for 3,892 yards and 20 touchdowns, stretching defenses in a way that opens up the field for your entire offense. He will also carry the ball 49 times for an additional 351 yards and three touchdowns. He'll even return 116 punts for 1,227 yards and four touchdowns, and he'll do it all while going to a pair of Pro Bowls and garnering an All Pro selection.
For $2.281 million, Steve Smith will join your football club in August, nine months removed from microfracture surgery on his knee. He will play in all of nine games, during which he will catch 11 passes for 124 yards and a single score. Then, he will go on injured reserve with a bone bruise on the same knee his previous football club was concerned would not be 100% at any point this year.
Which player would you rather invest in?
I don't fault the Eagles for signing Smith. Jackson was a brief training camp holdout, and Jeremy Maclin was excused while being tested for a mysterious illness, so there were concerns with their own wide receivers. And before the Birds stepped in, Smith was likely headed back to the New York Giants, where he was a Pro Bowl caliber player for a division rival with Eli Manning at the helm.
Steve Smith was available for the taking, and even now that the addition officially did not pan out, you won't hear too much buyer's remorse from me.
Unless, of course, Smith's signing had anything to do with DeSean Jackson not getting paid.
DJac has been anything but fun to watch this season. He's dropped a million passes. He shies away from any and all contact. He seems completely disinterested in returning punts. His attitude caused him to be deactivated in one game, and resulted in a penalty that erased a momentum-swinging play in another.
His numbers have dipped, and his relationship with the organization appears to be fractured.
And yet, while I don't agree even the slightest bit with the way DeSean has conducted himself on the field, the popular opinion is much of this could have been avoided had the Eagles simply signed him to a new contract this offseason. Now, not only have we received a questionable effort from a star player capable of breaking games wide open, but the front office may be left with no other choice except to use the franchise tag, then trade one of their most gifted athletes.
If any of it has anything to do with Steve Smith, then the Eagles messed up badly. To be fair, we don't have all the facts at this point. It's possible the two sides could not agree on Jackson's value. As amazing as he is, DJac is not a conventional standout who will catch 100 balls, nor a monster who can jump over the defense and rip a pass out of the sky.
But by albeit simplistic comparison -- wasting $2 million on Steve Smith to produce next to nothing, while DeSean Jackson sulks and daydreams about making piles of money elsewhere -- the whole situation just looks plain awful.