"We want DeSean to be an Eagle for the long haul, and this is a step in the right direction to accomplish that," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement. "DeSean is a talented player and a proven playmaker in this league, and we look forward to him continuing his career in Philadelphia. It's our understanding that he has the same desire."
They became the first team to franchise a potential free agent this offseason.
Not only was this the right move by the Eagles, but it's a win-win situation across the spectrum when you consider the business aspect and the game of pro football itself .
From a business perspective, Philadelphia now has more time to work with Jackson in mutually agreeing for the long-term deal. In addition, if that is unable to happen then the Eagles have Jackson for at least the 2012 season.
The Eagles also have saved themselves some (projected) valuable cap space not only for the upcoming season, but the immediate future in 2013.
Which brings us to the game itself.
Yes, Jackson had a down season in 2011 with just 114 punt return yards on 17 attempts and no touchdowns. However, DeSean did have a fairly solid year as a receiver in catching 58 passes (four away from his career-high) for 961 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
There's no doubt that these numbers could have and should have been better, however, it wasn't just his production that doomed the Eagles from the start of 2011.
The defense couldn't stop the run, the offense was turning the ball over and being if anything, inconsistent. Quarterback Michael Vick also missed three games and Philly was getting everyone's A-game since it was dubbed the preseason Super Bowl champs.
So, the team began 1-4, then was sitting at 4-8, but somehow still alive for the postseason. Despite just missing out on the playoffs, the Eagles closed out with four straight wins to finish 8-8 and they had the best divisional record in the NFC East at 5-1.
In other words, retaining Jackson for 2012 had a lot to do with how he and the team built momentum for this upcoming year. As for Jackson, his final four games were solid with 15 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Was franchising DeSean Jackson the right move?
And if you look at the importance of having your primary return man back deep in the postseason, provided that Philly gets put in a situation like the San Francisco 49ers, if DeSean is not catching punts then something disastrous is bound to occur.
Also, include Jackson's ability to widen a defense as a horizontal rushing threat, the Eagles had to give him at least one more season.
There's simply too much value in having a versatile and dynamic player like DeSean Jackson and he's also just 25 years old. Now, when you combine all the elements of what is possible for The City of Brotherly Love in 2012, retaining Jackson goes without saying.
The Eagles have all kinds of talent, a lot of momentum leading through the offseason, tons of motivation after a disappointing 2011 campaign, a chance to keep building via the draft and they basically dominated their division last season.
All this said, Philadelphia has positioned itself quite well before kickoff happens next fall. Now all the Eagles have to do is get it done on the field.
John Rozum on Twitter.