The pros and cons to trading DeSean Jackson

The pros and cons to trading DeSean Jackson

One of the most polarizing athletes in this city, reports of a potential DeSean Jackson trade received a largely negative reaction across the board. Of course, many would be disappointed to see a fan favorite and one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL shipped out by the Philadelphia Eagles. Even folks who are okay with it though mostly had to balk at the idea of only getting a third-round pick back.

The fact is if Jackson does get moved this offseason, there was probably more to this story than meets the eye. In Jimmy Kempski’s original report for Philly.com—the story that started all of the speculation—one of the keys is what’s going on behind the scenes. Jackson’s attitude in the locker room, battles with coaches, and other issues we simply may not be privy to seem to be the driving forces at this point in time.

If the Eagles dump Jackson because he’s stirring the pot, I’m not sure anybody can blame them. Still, the discount price is a shock to the system, and people are having trouble understanding why the team would even consider such a low offer. Are they better off trying to gut it out with Jackson?

Maybe, maybe not. I’ve been back and forth over this issue since the news broke and can see both sides of the coin. There are perfectly good reasons to cut a deal now, and perfectly good reasons against it. Weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself what you think is really the right move.

 

PRO

Ends distractions

From offseason hobbies that include producing rap videos and stunt-diving into his pool, to jawing with opponents and bickering with coaches and teammates on the football field, there is no denying Jackson tends to make headlines for the wrong reasons.

In fairness, most of Jackson’s prima donna behavior is harmless. In fact, he’s never been in legal trouble of any kind and does a ton of charity work. However, it says a lot that his Philadelphia home was robbed in January, and all fans and reporters can seem to do is suggest it somehow reflects negatively on him.

The real issue though is Jackson’s ability to become a malcontent at any given time. He was caught in a public dispute with his wide receivers coach against the Minnesota Vikings last season, and Kempski notes that’s not out of the ordinary. It’s not just this coaching staff he’s clashed with, either. In 2011, Andy Reid benched Jackson for a game for missing a meeting. These types of actions can’t be overlooked, and seem to be the main motivators for a trade.

Deep draft

At first, I was a little taken aback like everybody else by reports that a third-round pick might be as high as teams are willing to go for Jackson—and that the Eagles would actually consider this no less. If that’s all they can get in return, why not at least wait and see if something better eventually comes along?

Then I remembered that this is an especially deep draft. If the Eagles can either get a third-round pick this year or next year, you would absolutely want them to have it in ’14.

A record number of underclassmen have entered the talent pool, so the chances of finding a starting-caliber player in the third are better than most drafts. If the Birds could finagle another mid-round pick in the trade too—say the fifth they shipped away for Darren Sproles—they could wind up with a couple quality players, whereas next year, maybe not so much.

Avoid certain contract squabble

While Jackson’s stated desire for a renegotiated contract was blown out of proportion, and the receiver denied any problems would arise in year three of the five-year deal he signed, it could certainly become a battleground down the road. As much as fans won’t like to hear it, he does have a point about there being no more guaranteed money in the current pact, a commitment he rightfully feels he’s earned.

It’s not entirely uncommon for parties to review contracts with two-years remaining in the NFL, so Jackson will want to talk for sure next offseason, particularly if he continues to produce. The problem is the Eagles probably aren’t excited about the prospect of extending a player who will be 30 when his current deal is scheduled to be up.

If the front office is still unwilling to do something for Jackson next year, you can bet your ass he’s going to make some noise at that point. Remember how he acted in 2011? Yeah, the team screwed him over then, and you could argue they would be screwing him over now. Regardless, do you want to deal with that again in ’15 while this team is trying to make a Super Bowl run?

Eagles ensure they get something in return

The Eagles could wait and see how things go with Jackson and trade him down the road if things aren’t working out for whatever reason, but that plan could also backfire. What if he gets injured or his play declines?

Worse, what if Jackson has a meltdown over his contract situation in the meantime and reduces his value even further? Or worse yet, the situation becomes so untenable, the Eagles would have to cut him anyway if they can’t make a swap, so potential suitors decide to wait it out and they get nothing in return?

By getting a deal done right now, this offseason, the Eagles would ensure that at least they got something back on their investment before things go downhill.  Considering the player we are talking about, you have to agree it a strong possibility.

 

CON

Loss of highly-productive player

The most clear-cut drawback to trading DeSean Jackson is, well, the Eagles would no longer have DeSean Jackson, a 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler.

I’m honestly not sure if everybody in this fan base fully appreciates what this guy does on the football field. Since Jackson came into the league in 2008, he is one of only nine wide receivers with at least 350 receptions, 6,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. Think about that for a moment. Statistically, he’s a top-10 receiver.

Aside from the numbers, Jackson forces opponents to account for his speed. When defenses are essentially double-covering No. 10 or pushing their safeties 20 yards deep at the snap, that creates a domino effect that opens up space for LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and the rest of the offense. Clearly, he would be a huge loss.

Third-round pick is so little

Obviously, we don’t know for a fact the most Jackson would fetch in a trade is a third-round pick. However, if Derrick Gunn’s report for CSN is accurate and the Eagles have had trouble garnering interest even at that price, you certainly have to at least wonder why they would even bother.

Ideally, the team would get at least a first for a highly-productive 27-year-old player in his prime. In Jackson’s case, given all the extra baggage, I can understand why the bidding would start with a second instead. But a third, that just seems like a slap in the face and teams trying to take advantage of the situation.

No player is ever truly untouchable if the price is right. In this case, clearly it’s not.

$6 million in dead money

One reason I thought the Eagles might wait one more year to pull the trigger on any moves involving Jackson is his contract. Sure, the organization can save $6.5 million under the cap if they get this guy off their books. However, the other $6 million—almost half of his salary in ‘14—will convert to dead money against the cap if he’s traded.

The dead money comes from a prorated $10 million signing bonus that’s spread over the life of the contract. With each passing year, the dead money decreases by $2 million, so if the Birds wait until next year, it would be $4 million in dead money.

It’s not enough to prevent the Eagles from moving Jackson, especially because ultimately they’re still saving in the end. However, it’s usually more favorable from a business standpoint when you get something for your money, which is why it’s a little surprising this organization would be so willing to eat that much to be rid of him.

Wide receiver goes from strength to question mark

The biggest concern of all is without a doubt the instability a trade would create at the wide receiver position. Jeremy Maclin is probably capable of being a No. 1 receiver in this league, but he’s coming off of a torn ACL and will be playing on a one-year deal. Riley Cooper might be an adequate No. 2, but has limited ability and is a likely candidate for regression in ’14.

The Eagles will obviously draft a wide receiver as well whether Jackson is traded this offseason or not, but we all know how that works. There’s no guarantee that player will pan out, and certainly is an unreliable option in his rookie year if nothing else.

I’m perfectly alright with trading Jackson, in fact I theorized this could happen myself before the story blew up—only next year, when some of these questions are answered. Maclin, Cooper and a player from this draft sounds like a fine combo to me, but it’s predicated on everything working out according to plan. How often does that happen?

I think the most preferable situation might be Jackson plays out this year while the Eagles get their ducks in a row at the position, then they take what they can get next offseason. However, given the quality of this draft and the likelihood that strategy blows up in their face, it would be hard to blame them for striking while the iron is hot.

If the Birds could get at least a second for Jackson right now, a trade is a no-brainer. With all we know however—and all we don’t—I’m not so sure they shouldn’t just settle for the best package they are offered before the draft.

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.