Two days after the Eagles lost a gut-wrenching playoff game to the New Orleans Saints, DeSean Jackson is already making waves that could hurt the Eagles' chances next year.
Jackson feels he deserves a new contract.
“Hopefully we can work things out smoothly and not have to worry about anything out of the ordinary," Jackson told Phil Sheridan of ESPN. "I definitely feel it’s something deserving.”
Jackson may have a point, having a career year with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
His cap hit next season is $12.5 million, and if he's cut, it will cost the team $6 million.
DJax is the best option for this team going forward; however, this isn’t the first time he has publicly complained about his contract, according to Sheridan. After airing his grievances with his contract in 2011, he signed a new five-year contract in March of 2012. There is a good chance the Eagles may not be able or want to meet Jackson’s demands.
If he isn’t back next season, here are the top five options for the Eagles to replace his spot on the roster.
He has declined and his production has gone down, but Nicks could have a great comeback season next year.
A free agent at 25, Nicks would be a different kind of receiver. He's taller and more of a possession guy but also a lot slower than Jackson.
With Nicks having a down year, though, he could be had at a discount and be a low risk-high reward kind of pick up.
Because he tore his ACL in July, Jeremy Maclin didn’t play this year and is in the same build as Jackson. All signs point to Maclin being ready by the spring, and the Eagles' conditioning staff would know exactly how to get him ready for the upcoming season.
Look no further than Jason Peters for proof.
Riley Cooper also had a career year and has become Nick Foles' favorite target.
He would need a pay raise, but Cooper has hinted at the fact that he feels he owes the Eagles for sticking with him through the whole racist comment fiasco during the summer.
If Cooper improves and Maclin is even 85 percent of what he was in 2012 at the start of 2014, the offense will be humming.
Drafting Sammy Watkins would be a little tricky but could be done.
If the Eagles are able to swap No. 1 draft picks and Jackson to draft Watkins, it would be ideal.
Watkins is lighting fast—he ran an unofficial 40 time of 4.2 in 2012—and at 6'1" is three inches taller than Jackson; however, the defense would be hurt in the long run because they wouldn't be able to use their first-round pick on a more pressing need.
If anyone in the league knows college players coming out this year and how they would fit in his scheme, though, it would be Chip Kelly. Plus, Watkins spent his college career running a fast-paced spread offense, which would translate great for the Eagles.
Eric Decker may become the odd man out in Denver, but he is the free agent with the closest numbers to Jackson.
Decker ended the regular season with 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. At 6'3", he is a lot taller than Jackson but runs a 4.54 40 time.
He played with Peyton Manning, which could only help a young quarterback like Foles; however, with Decker, the Eagles are going to spend about the same amount as they would to give Jackson a new contract.
Emmanuel Sanders had a very good year in Pittsburgh, grabbing 67 balls for 740 yards.
He runs a 4.41 40 time and may take slightly less money for a bigger opportunity. The money the Eagles spend on him would be almost the same as with Jackson, and he is only an inch taller.
Sanders, however, might help with the kind of offense Kelly runs. Kelly likes to hide his players behind the line sometimes, and a taller receiver would take that option away. Then again, after having some issues in the last two games, Kelly may want some taller receivers to add that back shoulder throw in the red zone.
Hopefully, Jackson is signed or retracts his request and this team can stay intact. If that can’t happen, though, the Eagles must move swiftly to replace Jackson and get his distraction out of the locker room.