The Eagles may or may not have a DeSean Jackson problem brewing in their locker room. It's becoming increasingly probable that the team will look to part ways with the veteran wide receiver this offseason—likely by a trade.
A number of Eagles reporters have speculated upon the possibility.
Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News suggests the Eagles are definitely talking about the possibility of trading Jackson for more picks. Meanwhile, Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com says that Jackson's me-first attitude is agitating head coach Chip Kelly.
Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com reports that Jackson is troubled by the reports he is hearing about himself and he's reached out to some teammates, expressing concern about his future with the team.
Kelly had an opportunity to shed doubts about the ongoing Jackson problem when he talked to reporters during the Maxwell Football Club's annual event on Friday. Instead, he made a joke about prioritizing the receivers based on what is reported about them.
So what does this all mean for Jackson? Well, it certainly sounds like enough sources legitimately believe that the 27-year-old wide receiver could be playing for a different team in 2014.
Obviously, there's a lot to the situation that the fanbase doesn't know about. There has to be. After all, Jackson was the team's best receiver in 2013 and it wasn't even close. He set career highs in catches (82), yards (1332) and touchdowns (9), despite playing without No. 2 receiver Jeremy Maclin.
His success as a the top receiving threat on a run-heavy offense earned him his third trip to the Pro Bowl.
|DeSean Jackson's 2013 Season|
|Total Snaps||PFF Rating||PFF WRs||Catches||Yards||TDs||Drops||Passer Rating||PR Rank|
|Pro Football Focus|
Whether Jackson remains with the club in 2014 is definitely not about his performance on the field. It's about his performance off the field.
CSNPhilly.com notes that Jackson had his fair share of issues with wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell throughout the season, including an incident during a loss to Minnesota in Week 15 where the two had to be separated on the sidelines.
According to Jeff McLane of Philly.com, veteran receiver Jason Avant frequently served as the intermediary between Jackson and Bicknell. Avant's release from the team a few weeks ago means he can't serve as peacemaker in 2014.
The Eagles also cannot be pleased with Jackson's latest contract drama.
Immediately following the team's loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the sixth-year receiver expressed his desire to earn a new contract with more guaranteed money. This came just two years after he signed a $51 million contract.
He attempted to blame the media for twisting his words around in a post on Instagram the following day, but the damage had already been done. No reports of his contract status have surfaced in the last few months.
The Eagles will lose $6 million in dead money if Jackson is cut, making a release very unlikely. If the Eagles do try to cut ties with the disgruntled receiver, it will be through a trade.
It's hard to determine the value for a player like Jackson. His hefty contract doesn't help out his trade value. Neither do reports of his selfish, me-first attitude.
With that said, the bottom line is that football games are won on the field and any team would have to be in love with a player like Jackson—a borderline top-10 receiver who can also return punts at an elite level. He's improved as a blocker and his durability is better than most realize.
In fact, maybe moving Jackson isn't as much about as his attitude as people think. Maybe Kelly just looks at Jackson's contract in 2014 and thinks he can get similar production with no off-the-field headaches for half the money.
So let's take a look at what opposing teams would get in a trade.
Jackson is 27 years old. It's hard to predict how long he will play, but a safe estimate would suggest that he has four or five more years as a top receiver. Obviously, that's assuming he doesn't suffer any major injuries.
The big question for the Eagles is probably whether they could get a first-round pick for him. In such a dominant draft class, I'm inclined to say no. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen, though.
After all, the Minnesota Vikings traded versatile receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks last offseason for a first- and seventh-round pick in 2013 as well as a fourth-round pick in 2014. Harvin had been a pretty explosive player during his four years in Minnesota, but I think the Vikings had to have been surprised at the number and quality of picks the Seahawks were willing to send their way.
The Dallas Cowboys gave up two first-round picks for Joey Galloway in 2000. The Cowboys also gave up first-, third- and sixth-round picks for Roy Williams in 2008. Neither trade came close to working out.
Hey, maybe the Cowboys would give up two first-round picks for Jackson. You know Howie Roseman would make that trade.
Realistically, however, a first-round pick seems like a lot for Jackson. A second-round pick and another pick—perhaps a fifth-rounder—seems more plausible.
Hopefully, this is a situation that clears itself up over the next few weeks, because Jackson is too valuable a piece of the Eagles offense to trade right now.
Maybe Kelly is making an example of Jackson's attitude as something that isn't acceptable in the Eagles' new regime, although sometimes you just have to put up with a little bit of drama for huge numbers.
How much drama has there been, though? Too much?
Everything I know about the situation suggests that Jackson is a player worth keeping. In fact, he's someone the Eagles should be—and have been—building their offense around.
However, the Eagles may not agree. There's a lot I don't and won't know. If the Eagles feel like Jackson's behavior, contract or a combination of both warrants parting ways with their talented playmaker, they won't hesitate to do so.
If they do trade Jackson—and I think they will—expect them to target a receiver or two in the draft. Yes, they re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, but that wouldn't matter.
They would definitely be a candidate to draft a first-round talent, especially in a deep receiver class like this one.