Let's clear the air on what the Eagles using the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson means for this season. However they arrive at training camp in Lehigh -- either on a one-year deal, or a long-term extension -- what's important now is they will arrive there together.
I know a trade technically is still on the table, but look at the hang-ups. First, any team willing to take on Jackson would have to send draft picks or players to Philadelphia, PLUS reach an agreement on a multi-year contract. As if that weren't enough, the Eagles need to willfully downgrade their wide receiving corps, and in turn, the entire offense.
There's almost no way around it.
We'll get into that last part in a moment. The immediate question is why would any team be inclined to exchange picks and players for DJacc at this time? The free agent market is plentiful. If a GM really wants to add a play-making wide receiver, he can run out and sign Vincent Jackson, or a handful of other guys, without giving up anything at all.
That's not to say there would be no market whatsoever, but further complicating matters is the fact that no front office would be willing to do that unless they are able to reach a long-term deal with Jackson. We know he wants to be paid like one of the top receivers in the NFL, but who would okay that with so many questions about his attitude, his durability, his production?
Believe it or not though, those aren't even the biggest issues preventing the Eagles from moving DeSean. Let's say they get around all that -- another club makes a decent offer, and decides to build their offense around his speed.
Who then is starting at wide receiver across from Jeremy Maclin?
Now that Jackson has been tagged, the Eagles aren't exactly at liberty to pursue one of these touted FA's we've been talking about. They've committed $9.4 million to DJacc, a tender he could sign tomorrow. Once he does, they are stuck with him, and there isn't room under the cap to bring in another eight-figures-a-year player at the same position.
They're stuck with him because Jackson doesn't become any easier to move once he's put his name on the dotted line, which at least one report claims he intends to do "ASAP." Any team that was seriously considering meeting Jackson's salary demands isn't likely to find $9.4 million in the first year of the contract a reasonable jumping-off point for negotiations.
Even if the Eagles were open to that risk, Jackson's trade value falls off a cliff when they sign another receiver. Everybody knows they can't afford both players, so Howie Roseman has absolutely no leverage in that scenario. They would have to take whatever they could get, and trust me, it wouldn't be much -- certainly not worth all this trouble.
And for those thinking the Eagles could rescind the franchise tag once they've signed another receiver, don't you think DeSean would quickly sign it (if he hasn't already) once word got out a deal was imminent?
The only hope they have of reasonably swapping DeSean is to wait a month or so after free agency begins, once the league-wide shake up is largely complete, and hope one of the teams that still needs a wide receiver is ready to deal.
But what's the point of that? Why take the explosive element away from their offense -- without a proper replacement -- for draft picks that may or may not pan out years down the road?
This team is worse in 2012 if they trade DeSean. There is no way to trade him and get better now. Franchising him, then attempting to to replace him, is nothing but a headache, and hardly can be considered a viable option.
It's obvious. DJacc will be wearing midnight green next season. There is no longer any point in looking to free agency, or what they might get back in a trade. In this market, with this player, the franchise tag becomes an adhesive.
The Eagles need a wide receiver, and DeSean Jackson needs the Eagles.