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.

J.P. Crawford knocking on MLB's door after overcoming slow Triple A start

J.P. Crawford knocking on MLB's door after overcoming slow Triple A start

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — After a slow start at Triple A, J.P. Crawford is once again showing everybody why he's not only the top prospect in the Phillies organization, but one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Crawford's average was still hovering around or below .200 one full month into his promotion, and that was considered a sign of improvement. Then the 21-year-old shortstop got hot for real, batting .333 with seven multi-hit games during the month of July. His power has been coming around too, socking all three of his home runs for Lehigh Valley over that span.

It probably was only a matter of time until Crawford's bat came alive. In fact, never before had he experienced such a deep, prolonged slump.

"It was tough," Crawford admits. "It was the first time I ever went through something like that, but thankfully I have good teammates to pick me up and keep me thinking positive. I just tried to stay within myself and I got out of it."

Ironpigs manager Dave Brundage was one of the first to point out Crawford had never struggled to quite that extent, observing that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing that it happened either. Crawford agreed, adding that it's better to get the unpleasant yet inevitable experience out of the way now, before his highly anticipated arrival in the major leagues.

"I definitely would rather have it here than if I make it up there," said Crawford, notably not taking his eventual promotion to the Phillies for granted. "I'd rather learn from it now than suffer from it later."

Crawford entered Tuesday's Ironpigs doubleheader batting .267 with a .341 on-base percentage and .356 slugging since his May 20 call-up. That's beginning to approach the numbers from his stint at Double A Reading, where he hit .265 with a .367 OBP and .416 slugging across parts of 2015-16.

As for what's changed, Crawford made some tweaks to his approach that helped him break out. Most of all, he's simply getting back to what made him successful in the first place.

"Just trying to stay within myself, as far as not trying to get three hits in one at bat," Crawford said. "Recently been trying to put the ball hard back up the middle and it's been working.

"I'm just using less of my body and focused on using my hands more, like I'm used to, not thinking too much at the plate, staying confident in myself and just doing me."

Brundage suggests the reasons behind Crawford's initial struggles, aside from the challenge in making the jump to the next level, may have been a matter of circumstance for the left-handed batter.

"He had a little tough luck early on and was kind of getting his feet wet, just a lack of experience at this level," Brundage said. "I think he's getting himself more comfortable, he's feeling more comfortable with the bat, just trying to make some adjustments along the way and they seem to be working.

"He's had much better at bats. That, and we haven't faced — not that he can't hit lefthanders, because he's done a better job against lefties — but there for a run I think we faced nine out of 11 starters were lefthanded against us, so that makes it a little bit tougher when you're trying to gain some experience, when you're trying to make it here at Triple A."

There's little doubt Crawford will get his first taste of the majors with the Phillies come September when the roster expands, if not sooner. He's now demonstrated he can hit at every level of the minors. There's only one step left to take, and that's up to the big leagues.

But Crawford isn't getting ahead of himself. He knows he's knocking on the door. He also understands what the expectations are once he gets there, and that there's a lot more hard work ahead.

"I mean, it's cool, but I'm trying not to think about it," Crawford said of an impending promotion. "I try to just go about my business, day by day, try to find a way to get better before the game and try to win the game that night."

Report: Nigel Bradham arrested for involvement in Miami assault

Report: Nigel Bradham arrested for involvement in Miami assault

Another Eagle is in trouble with the law. 

According to NBC6 in Miami, linebacker Nigel Bradham was recently arrested after an incident on Miami Beach. 

Bradham, 26, turned himself into Miami Beach Police on Monday, "charged in the beating of a worker at the Hilton Bentley hotel," according to the report. 

The Eagles released the following statement Tuesday afternoon: “We are aware of the recent incident involving Nigel Bradham in Miami. We have been in contact with Nigel and the proper authorities. Due to the ongoing legal process, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Per the NBC report, six people began arguing with the employee about "the length of time it took to bring them an umbrella they had paid for" and the argument became physical. The victim sustained cuts and was allegedly punched in the face and smashed in the back of the head with a bottle. The report continues to say the six people got in a vehicle and sped away. A phone was found at the scene, along with a receipt that showed Bradham paid for the umbrella with his credit card.

An arrest report obtained by NBC claims Bradham "without provocation, struck the victim in the nose with a closed fist, causing the victim to fall to the ground."

"I saw the drill, then I'm going to try to take the drill to come to fix the umbrella for them," the worker, 50-year-old Jean Courtois told NBC, saying he needed a drill to fix the umbrella before bringing the group the umbrella. "He say 'hey, I pay my money for me to set up for me to fix the chair for me. You don't want to fix the umbrella for me.' Then I say 'OK, I'm going to try to take care of it for you.' Then he hit me in my head."

The Eagles signed Bradham to a two-year deal worth $7 million ($4.5 million guaranteed) this offseason. 

The linebacker is expected to be the team's starting strongside linebacker, next to Jordan Hicks in the middle and Mychal Kendricks on the weak side. 

Bradham's best season came in 2014, while playing under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in Buffalo. That season, he had 104 tackles, 2½ sacks and an interception in 14 games. 

The Eagles seem to have three decent starters, but if Bradham misses any time, it could be a big blow. The team doesn't have much in the way of depth behind Bradham and the rest of the starters.

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

The Eagles might not have any top-flight cornerbacks, but they certainly have a lot of guys with some talent.

Many of them are young, and all of them are battling for just several roster spots.

That hodgepodge of talent has made the corner position one of the more intriguing spots at this year's training camp. We're not sure how it'll all shake out, who will be the starters, who will be the depth players.

But one thing's for certain: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants all of them to be aggressive.

"It's going to be fun to watch the corners compete," Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. "We have some guys that can cover. We have some guys that have a great opportunity here. If they'll get up and they'll challenge receivers, like I said before, if you can cover — you can't cover many people if you don't want to challenge guys. That's God's honest truth. I could play the deep ball. I'd get my ass 50 yards deep and you couldn't get one over the top of me, but I couldn't cover anything else.

"There's a fine line in there. And the fine line is you obviously have to play the deep ball in this league, but if that's the only thing you're worried about, you're not going to cover anything else."

Schwartz said he's happy with the blend of veteran and young players on the roster, before rattling off five names: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, JaCorey Shepherd and rookie Jalen Mills.

The one notable omission from that list of names is second-year player Eric Rowe, who finished last year as a starter, but has been somewhat of a forgotten man this spring and summer. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson mentioned some "hiccups" Rowe encountered learning the new defensive scheme (see story).

Even with Rowe buried on the depth chart for now, there are still plenty of talented, young corners fighting for jobs.

Carroll, on the other hand, isn't young. He's 29 and a returning starter from last year. Schwartz praised Carroll's smarts and said he's been a resource for younger players. But Carroll is also coming off of a fibula fracture and subsequent surgery. That's why he's one of the select vets that reported to camp early.

"This is important for him now," Schwartz said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here, just to sort of test it out and see how he's feeling. You don't want to judge too much. He might need a day here or there. It helps that he's a veteran player."

It seems Carroll, on a one-year deal, has a decent shot of being a starter opposite McKelvin. During the spring, Brooks worked outside in the base package and moved inside to the slot. At times, the rookie Mills also played in the slot.

Schwartz said corners in the slot need a different set of skills than the ones outside. They need to have the "courage" to take on big-bodied running backs and the occasional pulling guard. They also need to cover differently.

"It's very rare that you're getting the same routes," he said. "You're not getting the same routes from the slot as you are from the outside. So there's a different skill set. Some guys can play both, some guys can't. So it's our job to determine over the next six weeks where all the guys fit in that."