Philadephia Eagles: 5 Reasons They Made the Right Choice with DeSean Jackson
Jackson had previously been given the franchise tag for 2012, and stated he was excited to be a part of the team’s future. Now the Eagles have Jackson locked up through what will be the prime years of his career, and that’s the right choice for five big reasons.
He Wasn’t Going to Be Happy with the Franchise Tag
DeSean Jackson was publicly disgruntled with his contract last season, repeatedly complaining and letting it affect his performance on the field. Whether Jackson was in the right or the wrong, he likely wasn’t going to be happy with the franchise tag for 2012.
Jackson has said all the right things since he signed his franchise tag, claiming he was honored to have been given the tag. He said he was extremely optimistic that he and the Eagles could work out a long-term deal very soon.
Honestly, I didn’t think that was going to happen. I didn’t think the team was going to trade him before the Week 6 trade deadline, because it’s doubtful a team would make a trade for a player for just two-thirds of a season before his contract is up again. I figured the Philadelphia Eagles would let Jackson play out 2012 and then let him walk.
Now that he has a long-term deal, he should be happy. Jackson is the team’s clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver, and he is a playmaker on a team with all the necessary weapons to make a serious run at the Super Bowl in the near future.
He Fits Well in the Offense
The Philadelphia Eagles like to throw the deep ball, and no player is better at beating the safeties for a deep ball than DeSean Jackson. Since entering the league in 2008, Jackson has made two Pro Bowls, he’s averaged over 1,000 receiving yards per season and he’s scored 28 total touchdowns. Jackson leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns of at least 40 yards since ’08, and his breakaway speed makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Jackson forces the opposing safeties to play deep, which opens up the middle of the field for Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy. When the Eagles didn’t have him for the Arizona game last year, the offense was completely different. His impact on the opposing defense just can’t be measured.
The Team Needs to Win Now
Andy Reid’s job is likely on the line in 2012, especially after a disastrous 2011 season that saw the club go all-in during the free agency period, and then stumble to an 8-8 record.
Reid is signed as the team’s head coach for two more seasons, but if he doesn’t show significant improvement in ’12, the organization likely won’t bring him back as a lame duck for 2013.
More than just Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles are built to win, and they’re built to win within the next several years. The team just extended offensive tackle Todd Herremans and All-Pro defensive end Trent Cole for three and five years, respectively, but these players are in the peak of their careers now. Michael Vick is on the wrong side of 30, and while he can still be extremely effective when he’s on his game, his injuries are piling up.
LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek are offensive playmakers in the midst of the prime of their careers. Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin were high-profile free agents from last season, but neither has too many years of their peak remaining.
The Eagles play in an extremely difficult division. The New York Giants are the reigning Super Bowl champions and figure to be strong competitors again. The Washington Redskins are making moves in free agency and will almost assuredly draft playmaking quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. And the Dallas Cowboys have managed to underachieve almost every season, but they have the weapons to contend.
Bringing Jackson back was absolutely essential for the Eagles to compete in 2012, and signing him long-term was a priority that the team can check off its to-do list.
You Can’t Replace DeSean Jackson’s Speed
Speed can’t be taught, and DeSean Jackson was fortunate enough to be blessed with 4.29 speed that makes him arguably the fastest wide receiver to strap on a pair of shoulder pads.
Jackson is a one-trick pony, but his one trick is worth $51 million according to the Philadelphia Eagles, and you can bet that the other three teams in the division would much rather see Jackson in another uniform. Michael Vick has a rocket of an arm and Jackson has speed that cornerbacks just can’t keep up with; put that together and you have a top-five quarterback-wide receiver combo.
None of the Other Free Agent Wide Receivers Would Have Fit as Well
There were a handful of talented wide receivers set to hit the free agency market, notably Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston and Brandon Lloyd (plus Mike Wallace, but he’s a restricted free agent).
Jackson was locked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a five-year, $55 million deal that is too much money in my opinion. Wayne is already 33 years old and he benefited greatly from the services of Peyton Manning, as did Marques Colston from Drew Brees in New Orleans. And I think Brandon Lloyd may have been too much of a one-year wonder.
The Philadelphia Eagles definitely could have picked a receiver like Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffery in the NFL draft, but re-signing Jackson saves them a pick. Plus the team knows what it has in Jackson, and it has a playmaking wide receiver that completely changes the way defenses play the game.