It’s the story that won’t go away, even if you hope it will. The Eagles would certainly like it to stop. DeSean Jackson evidently feels the same way. At least the two sides agree on something.
In the most recent development of the never-ending receiver saga, sources close to Jackson told Tim McManus at Phillymag.com that the situation has become “a bit of a distraction.” If constant talk radio discussions, Twitter debates, bar room conversations and columns (hi!) about whether Jackson should stay or be FedEx’ed to a different organization qualify as “a bit of a distraction,” then yes. That’s what we have here. A bit of a distraction.
So much thread has been pulled on this topic that it’s hard to remember how it all began to unravel in the first place. Upon review, Jimmy Kempski got the process going with a story wondering whether the Eagles might unload Jackson because “there’s an opinion among some in the Eagles organization that Jackson’s personality is not a great fit with the locker room culture Chip Kelly is trying to cultivate.” Our Eagles Insider, Geoff Mosher, wrote a piece saying Jackson could be on his way out because of his salary and because he “remains an enigmatic figure for a head coach who is agitated quickly by me-first behavior” (see story). And Daily News scribe Paul Domowitch insisted that trading Jackson for draft picks has been “talked about on the second floor of NovaCare.”
According to Jeff McLane at the Inquirer, the Eagles aren’t shopping Jackson. And Howie Roseman went on WIP recently and said reports that Jackson might be traded did not come “from anyone in this building.” It remains unclear whether Roseman had his fingers crossed behind his back while he said it.
Anyone who heard the initial WIP interview or read the transcript no doubt noticed that Roseman tried to use a joke to redirect the conversation. Chip Kelly used the same tactic but a different joke when he was asked about the situation. What they didn’t do was say Jackson is a super swell guy who factors into their plans for the future. They didn’t do that. That’s an interesting omission.
Perhaps they didn’t do that because they were being coy and they want to keep their options open. Perhaps they don’t mind listening to offers, which is different than actively soliciting them. You wouldn’t blame them for that. Perhaps this will all end up as a big nothing and Jackson will be in midnight green when the season begins.
But here’s the important part: The truth (small “t,” because it is a relative and easily manipulated term in this instance) about whether the Eagles do or don’t want to trade Jackson doesn’t matter as much here as the fact that these stories persist and the receiver is aware of them. His people are aware of them, and his people have wondered on his behalf why the Eagles haven’t reached out to Jackson to assuage his fears. Because, according to McManus, the excitable wide receiver remains “in the dark like everyone else.”
Think about that for a moment and the potential motivation behind it. You probably wouldn’t expect the Eagles to publicly and forcefully denounce the rumors and trumpet Jackson because that might undercut any potential bargaining position. But to not reach out through back channels is something else entirely.
It is one thing to publicly declare your affection for a player. It is quite another to let him twist and stew and wonder about his fate. A quick and quiet phone call would change so much in that case. But cell phone rates vary. Maybe Jackson isn’t on the Eagles’ friends and family plan.
Distilled to its essence, this is the situation: Reports persist about the Eagles being open to the possibility of moving Jackson. Jackson is aware of those reports. Jackson has not been contacted by management. Jackson, according to his people, isn’t so thrilled about that. If the Eagles bring him back – and it feels like a bigger and bigger if with each day and each subsequent report -- that’s the Jackson they’re likely to have on hand: the not-so-thrilled version. That is not the Jackson anyone prefers. The situation has reached critical mass. And now we brace for the attendant boom.