The DeSean Dilemma, Redux

Posted: February 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 92 Comments »

Tommy had a post yesterday on DeSean’s future; I want to follow up with some ideas that I set out in the comments and on Twitter, but want to expand on a bit.

The view on what to do about DeSean depends largely on what your personal view of his future is. I could see that falling into several buckets of reasonable analysis, which I will discuss after the jump.

  1. He’s Good, Not Great. Some argue that DeSean is vastly overrated. If you look at certain metrics, like DVOA, for instance, he is unimpressive. As a result, you can replace his production pretty easily. Yes, he has made some impressive plays, but he also makes a lot of unimpressive ones, where he drops or short-arms the ball, resulting in a low overall catch rate. A related point is that he’s a great “long field” player, but not much of a short field one. He is, to be generous, ordinary in the red zone and probably a liability, and that shows up when you look at the Eagles’ scoring in the red zone. For this population, the answer seems to be that DeSean is going to get paid a lot of money by a team that falls for the hype, and he is going to under-deliver that amount of money because he was never worth that much in the first place. The Eagles can get enough production for far less cost pretty easily. Plus, DeSean is a headcase. Once he gets paid, how does anyone know he will even keep trying? In general, the team would get more bang for their buck by investing in a different player.
  2. He’s A Rare Commodity. DeSean has averaged 19.0 yards per reception over the past three years. He has 23 plays of 40 or more yards during that time. Those are staggering numbers that have really only been matched by one player in the NFL during that time: Mike Wallace, another 2012 free agent (though he’s restricted) who is surely watching DeSean’s contract situation closely. DeSean has had a visible impact on the Eagles’ offense since the moment he became a starter, and the current offensive style is centered around him. Teams game plan for the deep threat that he provides which opens up the rest of the field and helps the offense move. While he isn’t strong in the red zone, his ability to score from any spot on the field means that the team gets into the red zone in the first place far more often than it would with a less dynamic WR at that spot. That ability allows them to get more production from less talented players at other positions; his presence makes his teammates look better than they are and allows the team to get value from cheaper players. Further, his own production isn’t a product of the system, his production is a product of a clearly high and not-easily replaceable level of talent. He’s only 25, and it is hard to imagine that he doesn’t have many more years of outstanding play in front of him, barring injury.
  3. He’s Small and Fragile. I would guess that everyone would concede the logic and real possibility of this point of view, even if you disagree with it. DeSean is small. He is not going to be able to take a pounding. Now, the truth is that he doesn’t try to take a pounding; from his rookie year on, he has stepped out of bounds or gone to the ground rather than fighting for an extra yard or two and subjecting himself to a big hit. That’s smart, given his frame, and I think even DeSean’s detractors would agree that if he’s averaging 19 yards per reception, that extra yard or two isn’t really that critical or worth risking the next 19 yard reception over. But over time, even that level of caution can’t prevent NFL hits from taking their toll. He hasn’t looked like the same player since his concussions, and even though DeSean is only 25 years old, it is hard to imagine that he can play 5 more years at a high level. Eventually that small frame will have enough NFL football. As a result, while he has high value in any given year, it is hard to imagine committing a ton of money long term to a guy who is a time bomb physically.

To be clear, I think all of these arguments are compelling and that reasonable minds can disagree on this. If you can’t fathom how anyone can believe a particular one of these arguments, please step back from the keyboard.

Now, where your own beliefs lie within these three arguments — and my own beliefs are a mix of all three — dictates how DeSean should be handled. I will explain what I think the best way to go about accomplishing each strategy is, and why this is so hard.

But first, let’s discuss the primary tool: the Franchise Tag.

It is estimated that the Franchise Tag for a WR will be around $9.5 million in 2012. But what really matters is the rules governing the tag. A few things to know:

  • The franchise tag must be applied prior to free agency. What it really physically is often gets confused. A franchise tag means that the Eagles will essentially send DeSean Jackson a contract (a “tender offer”) for his signature with $9.5 million guaranteed. If Jackson chooses to sign with another team instead, the Eagles get a high level of draft pick compensation, two first round picks, from the team he signs with. Jackson’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is allowed to talk to other teams about DeSean once free agency begins.
  • However, DeSean Jackson does not have to sign this tender offer. And until he does, he is a free agent and not under contract to any team. That means not only does he not have to attend minicamp or training camp until he signs the tender, he isn’t ALLOWED to attend those because he isn’t actually on the team.
  • Another consequence of not actually being on the team is that he can’t be traded until he signs a contract either. Thus, the Eagles can’t trade him without his consent until he signs that offer. This gives him leverage in a trade because no deal can be made unless the acquiring team is going to give him a contract he’s happy with. The Eagles had a deal to trade Corey Simon to Baltimore in 2005, but it didn’t go through because Simon couldn’t reach a deal with the Ravens. Additionally, teams will be willing to offer less to the Eagles in a trade as their cost of signing Jackson increases.
  • The $9.5 million will be paid in 1/17th installments in each week of the regular season. He gets $0 when he signs. He only gets cash in week 1. Thus, there is no financial incentive to DeSean to sign the tender offer early, because there is no bonus up-front.
  • The $9.5 million is only guaranteed once the offer is signed. If the team rescinds the offer before it is signed then DeSean Jackson has no claim on that $9.5 million. We saw this happen with Corey Simon.
  • I believe that the absolute deadline to sign his deal without missing the whole year is the week prior to game 11, which would allow him to officially accrue a season of playing time. I haven’t checked the new CBA, but I don’t recall a change to that rule. He will lose 1/17th of his salary for each regular season week he misses, but that is ultimately his choice.

The upshot of all of this is that if Jackson is tagged, and no other deal is worked out, there is almost no chance we will see DeSean in training camp (let alone minicamp). Reporters will cover this breathlessly as a hold out, but in reality it is a non-event. Why would this guy risk his body in minicamp or waste his time when he doesn’t get paid until Week 1 anyway. Further, it isn’t like he needs to learn the offense, and he so far hasn’t been a player who has needed to get into shape anyway.

What will matter is if he starts missing regular season weeks. That will be punishing the team and himself at the same time … but this is a guy with a history of doing just that. Oh, and by the way, once his year under the tag is up, he’s an unrestricted free agent again. The team can keep him for year two with the tag, but then it wouldn’t be able use the tag to keep Shady McCoy or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (if he has one of his Pro Bowl quality years). And Shady’s agent is … Drew Rosenhaus. Yay.

Now, how to deal with DeSean, based on your beliefs.

He’s Good, Not Great. The path here is pretty clearly to let DeSean go. Now, the Eagles don’t currently have a guy who I think the Eagles should feel comfortable saying, “Ok, that guy is going to be out  starting Z WR.” But the strategy here is to go sign that guy who can be a starting Z, at least in the short term. You could draft a guy as well, but the draft is a high-risk process, and it would be very risky to count on a draft pick being able to be an NFL starter from day one, and even more so to enter the draft knowing you *have* to land a guy who you can count on being that guy. In a year where the bar has been set high for the team, taking that kind of risk seems like a good way to lose your job.

Signing free agents is risky too, of course; you are almost certain to overpay for the guy you do land, which is one of the ironic aspects of this strategy because the team isn’t keeping DeSean exactly because it don’t want to overpay for him. But part of the argument is that he is more overrated than the average free agent, so there’s value there in the form of the degree to which DeSean will be overrated by the market.

The question then becomes what to do with DeSean. He will be highly valued by other teams — that’s why this segment thinks he is “overrated” — the team can get something in a trade for him. But how much? The risk here is that the team will undermine the whole strategy in a way that will seem familiar. The worst case scenario is that the team will first sign Jackson’s replacement, yet at the same time, the team will overrate what it should get for Jackson in a trade, meaning that it will keep him on the roster because other teams are offering too little, especially once it signals that it isn’t just willing to but *needs* to trade him. DeSean will spend a year destroying his value and not providing a value to the team anywhere near what he is being paid (meaning we could have used that cash on another position) and the Eagles will get little to nothing for him the following year other than a headache and maybe a comp pick if it stays out of the free agent market.

So that’s the risk of a tag and trade strategy. If the Eagles are willing to just say, “We have a replacement, Drew, go get what you can get for us in a trade and we will learn to live with it,” then this would be fine. Or maybe even not tag him at all or drop the tag once the replacement is in the house and just move on. On net, the team overpays a WR by less than we would overpay DeSean, potentially get someone who fits with the system and maybe is more functional in the red zone, and use the cap savings to improve the team elsewhere. If you think DeSean is overrated, that’s the optimal strategy, in my view.

He’s A Rare Commodity. I think what you ideally do here is tag DeSean, wait for the top WRs to sign elsewhere, and then use those deals to help you benchmark DeSean’s deal. It would be ideal if you could work with Drew in advance, let him know that’s what you plan to do, and agree that certain deals will be comparable. But since I live in reality, I know that isn’t happening, and I just have to hope that Drew sees the market move the same way I do. The risk is that there is no deal, Drew pulls a power play and I am left with two rare commodities in Shady and DeSean hitting the market in 2013, forcing me to overpay one to keep both. That’s a serious risk. But if DeSean is rare, it probably makes sense to just overpay a bit now to ensure that the team has those unique services later.

He’s Small and Fragile. It is really a combination of 1 and 2. I think you attack this one with structure and foresight. By structure, I think you make the deal as pay-as-you-go as you can. If / when he gets hurt, the money stops and you let him hit the bricks. Welcome to the NFL, punk. No signing bonus, but big base salaries every year that reflect the healthy DeSean’s impact. In terms of foresight, you not only sign him, but you draft his replacement. That seems crazy, but I think you take a “poor man’s” DeSean in the 3rd or 4th round this year, and if that guy sucks, try again next year, with the idea that if injury is inevitable and imminent for DeSean, you have to be ready to just plug in the next guy and keep moving. The team can’t do that now with its depth chart, but it makes sense to do so in the future.

So what would I do? Well, like I said, I think I have a mix of all three views. But mostly, I think DeSean is likely to be a rare talent, but a fragile one. I think if you can get a different rare talent in free agency, sure, overpaying is ok because it is so hard to get those players. But even if DeSean is merely very good and not great, and there are merely very good players but not great ones in free agency, I think I’d rather risk overpaying my own guy who I KNOW is good in my system than risk overpaying a guy I HOPE is good in my system and might, in fact, be a disaster. So I think that leads me to the strategy in 3.

That said, the Eagles might have a view more like point 1. If so, I just hope that they don’t fall into the same trap they fell into with Lito Sheppard and Asante Samuel. Both times, it was a disaster. Hopefully, the organization has learned from its mistakes.


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QBTMAL742B5GDDC34M3NLEYJ5Q Tom

    Sam – it wasn’t that long. Anyway, I think Desean is a very good WR who is probably going to have some health issues due to his size/frame. Also, I think if he loses a step, his value goes away (he can’t turn into Cris Carter or even Plaxico for the Jets this year). I also think the Desean/Drew combination will tend to overestimate his value. Therefore, I think the Eagles should just let him go. They need to try to sign Colston or Bowe, or even Garcon. If the Eagles think they can’t get one of these 3, franchise/overpay Desean for 1 year and then do this all over again based on the results from 2012/13.

  • Anonymous

    driveway sit-ups

  • Anonymous

    By “expand on a bit” you obviously meant “you better print this out an read it offline to save your eyeballs.”

    • Anonymous

      Worth it though. Sam, appreciate you being balanced and laying out all the logical arguments.

      Also, this should go in the masthead or something:
      “If you can’t fathom how anyone can believe a particular one of these arguments, please step back from the keyboard.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

    I think that everyone overrates DeSean not only based on his abilities in general, but also based on his importance to the Eagles’ offense.

    Here’s an idea: let him walk and *do not* replace him with anyone.

    Why exactly does everyone insist that if DeSean leaves, the Eagles must replace him with an equivalent talent? I don’t see why an offense based around two good TEs (Celek and Harbor), a top-3 RB (McCoy), borderline top-10 QB (Vick). a borderline #1 WR with first round pedigree (Maclin) and several complimentary WRs (Avant, Cooper, others added through later rounds of draft) can’t be serviceable or even great. And that doesn’t even take into account the top-10 offensive line the Eagles have.

    Explain to me why a good offensive coordinator and a good QB can’t work with the existing collection of talent on this team, even sans DeSean Jackson. I’d argue that even *without* DeSean, this offense has more aggregate talent than the New England Patriots offense. I mean, can you name the elite WRs on the Patriots Super Bowl teams in their past five appearances with Tom Brady? Wes Welker and Randy Moss, and Moss isn’t even a factor in 4 out of 5 of those. And in the 2007 Super Bowl, you could make the argument that over-reliance on Moss as a deep threat actually hindered their offense’s ability to overcome a defensive strategy that took him out of the game via quick pass rush pressure preventing deep patterns from developing.

    WRs are absolutely overrated in general. It’s usually the QB that makes the WR, and not vice versa. Why are the Patriots an elite offense with arguably less talent than the Eagles? Because Brady is a better QB than Vick right now. Signing DeSean Jackson to a contract will do nothing to change that fact. The effectiveness of this offense in 2012 is predicated upon the improvement of one player and one player only: Michael Vick. If he decides to invest time into bettering himself as a QB, and works on his craft, this team can be elite without Jackson and without any other free agent or draft-day replacements.

    Any time you have to bring up the oft-parroted line “he needs more weapons” into a discussion about QBs, you should just stop immediately and recognize the QB in question just doesn’t cut it. Elite QBs don’t need “more weapons”. They have a good WR or TE here or there, and raise the level of everyone else’s play. Conversely, poor QBs can be handed all of the weapons in the world and will still, ultimately, be mediocre players. What do you think the Falcons’ draft day trade to acquire Julio Jones did to imrprove Matt Ryan? I guess giving Matt Ryan more “weapons” really helped him avoid being completely shut out on offense in the playoffs this year, right?

    This team *can* win a Super Bowl without DeSean Jackson, and without any further upgrades to the offense. Of course, the defense will have to be a consistent top-5 unit, which is not impossible to achieve, and the QB play will have to be vastly improved from last year, which isn’t impossible to expect if Michael Vick decides to put more time into film study and self-improvement. And if Michael Vick is going to play on the same level as he did this year, and eschew important self-improvement objectives in the offseason, well then, the Eagles aren’t winning a Super Bowl with or without DeSean, for that matter, and they’d be better off saving the money they would have spent on Jackson’s contract anyway, or they’d be better off investing it into bolstering their defense.

    • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

      There are obvious exceptions to the QB or WR comparison, as you illustrated by adding the caveat of “in general.” Stafford and Johnson come to mind, for example. While Stafford certainly has the pedigree, Johnson has proven to produce in spite of the which QB is throwing to him.

      But I think there is no argument at all against the fact that an elite QB trumps all as far as team requirements. The only way a team can win continually and ultimately is to either have elite QB play or an average QB that is not turnover prone with an elite defense.

    • Anonymous

      Morton, you get a lot of grief on this site, but this post seems to me to be very well thought out and argued. Quarterback play wins, wide receiver play helps. The Eagles have lots of offensive weapons, they could get even more in free agency or the draft if they choose, but if Vick isn’t “elite” next year, it won’t matter very much what they do regarding DeSean..

      • Anonymous

        I’ll second that.

    • Anonymous

      I’d still invest modestly into a short term FA and risk/reward WR in draft… There’s a good chance Andy and MM find a way to scheme to accommodate R. Cooper or 2nd TE formations. We could always depend more on Shady, but lets not go there…

    • Tracer Bullet

      Vick is not Brady.
      Celek is not Gronkowski.
      Harbor is not Hernandez.
      Maclin is not Welker.

      The Eagles’ only clearly superior player is McCoy and maybe Avant compared with Edelman. Maclin could be as good or better than Welker, but he’s not there yet. Moreover, after a 13-year love affair with the long ball, what makes you think Reid is suddenly going to install and small-ball offense?

      • Anonymous

        You can’t really compare Maclin to Welker. Mac is an outside guy (ala Deion Branch)…

        • Tracer Bullet

          I was thinking in terms of each team’s respective top WR. Maclin is better than any WR the Patriots can line-up outside, but Welker is an All Pro in the slot.

          • Anonymous

            i think if you replace our 4 with their 4, they still go to the superbowl. belicheck finds a way to use his players. he’s just a better coach than andy.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

        That’s the point.

        Unless you have a top-10, even a top-5 QB, your hope of winning a Super Bowl rests on the slim chance that you assemble a historically strong defense.

        I don’t see a historically strong defense being assembled in Philly any time soon, so our hopes basically rest on Vick taking his craft more seriously and ascending to a near-Brady level next year. As crazy as that sounds, it isn’t impossible, because Vick clearly has the physical tools to play at an elite level as long as he improves the mental side of his game (pre-snap, studying defenses, judgement etc).

        And if you don’t have that top-10/top-5 QB, everything else on offense is not that important. You won’t win with an average or mediocre QB regardless of how many “weapons” or DeSean Jacksons you have. And if you *do* have that top-10/top-5 QB, he will work with whatever talent you have as long as it isn’t completely bereft of ability.

        The point I am making is that Celek/Harbor/McCoy/Maclin/Avant/Cooper, coupled with an elite offensive line (which is what the Eagles have) is more than enough to constitute an elite offense *given the existence of a top-10/top-5 QB*. If Vick dedicates himself to the craft, he *can* make this an elite offense next year, even without DeSean jackson (or an equivalent replacement) on the team.

        • Anonymous

          Morton,
          I agree with you in essence. Maclin, McCoy, Celek, Vick, a very good OL and complementary players is enough to win with. What worries me is if in that scenario McCoy misses significant time. Right now we have little depth behind him, and little depth at WR if Jackson and Smith (lord willing) walk.

          We could certainly fix that in the draft, but I think that’s part of the concern right now. One guy we can afford to lose, because right now we have so many options. It might even make us better, as we focus on the run game and utilizing the tight end. Reid has been sucessful before with less.

          Same time, you shouldn’t equate people wanting as much talent as possible on offense with “everyone insisting that if DeSean leaves, the Eagles must replace him with an equivalent talent?”

          Many of us would love to have more playmakers in the red zone, perhaps a big body WR. Or maybe some people just worry about the defense being made to carry too much of the load.

          Re: Vick I think the biggest improvement he could make is learning to throw it away and fight another down. He is, by nature, a ball-holder … and some of his best plays comes when he extends the play. Hopefully though they can teach him to pick his spots. Early in games it’s okay to toss it away. It annoyed fans to no end when McNabb threw it into the ground, but some of them seemed to be by design and he rarely turned it over.

    • Anonymous

      i would agree with everything you said if we had a top 3 QB. but we dont. if you put our weaopons with breese, brady, rodgers, yeah they would kill it. but vick is not them. he is really good but not on their level.

      he also is barley 6 foot so getting the ball out quick is not all that easy. he needs long drops to see the field and not have passes batted down constantly. breese is short but he moves around the pocket better than anyone. vick is pretty terrible at moving around in the pocket, he is the best at escaping but not at just moving around to find passing lanes.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

        If that’s the case, then re-signing Jackson or drafting/signing a replacement won’t matter anyway. If Vick remains mediocre, the WR situation won’t matter.

      • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

        I’m in the camp of wanting a QB that is much taller, but Drew Brees sort of makes the argument that “well, vick is only 6 foot” a rather moot point since Brees is about that.

        • Anonymous

          Ur right, taller qb is much better. Breese moves around in the pocket like none other. Just watch a saints game and pay attention to the way breezes moves in the pocket, and then watch Vick. Also breezes is amazing at knowing where to put the ball so his guy can get it even if he is somewhat covered. That’s why breese can do it w less weapons. Although now he has Jimmy Graham so he one of the best weapons in the game

    • Anonymous

      See the AZ game from last year. This offense benefits greatly from the space that speedy wideouts provide. Our offense is built on speed and speed kills but it needs room. A small speedy guy like Vick, Shady or Maclin isn’t very dangerous when surrounded by big relatively fast guys. However, when given a little room they can get away from those types of guys.

      That said, DeSean isn’t the only speedy receiver we could put on the outside. With the number of times we actually targeted him last year, I’m not sure if his ability as a receiver or his speed is more important. However, I have to believe that his perceived ability as a receiver is important. There is no way Dallas plays the deep cover two leaving the soft underbelly of the D exposed all game without that threat.

      I really don’t think this offense can be as effective without the fear of speed on the edge. In my mind, no we can’t just let him go and hold with what we have – partly because we don’t have a top 5 defense. I would love that but it just ain’t so.

  • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

    While the Eagles do need to assign the Franchise Tag prior to free agency, nothing precludes them from signing another wide receiver then rescinding the tag, correct?

    So in theory, the Franchise Tag is a small wide receiver (no pun intended) insurance plan for the team. If they are unable to find a replacement or whatever, they could always hold out hope that DeSean signs the tender and shows up week 1. And, at the very least, the possible tag and trade scenario is still on the table.

    • Anonymous

      Except that if the tender the offer, they have to be willing to accept the possibility that DeSean will sign it before they rescind it.

      If Drew hears that we are close to a deal with Stevie Johnson, he may very well suggest DeSean sign the tender, limit his worst-case scenario to 9.5 mil, and continue talking to other teams.

  • http://twitter.com/makarov__ Jim Reynolds

    I’ll repost some of my thoughts from the other DeSean thread:

    The NFL passing game is transitioning to where intermediate crossing and seam routes are turning into the big plays, more so than outside routes. DeSean is not a crossing route guy for obvious reasons, and doesn’t tend to put up big yards after any contact (which is almost guaranteed on a seam route).

    The receivers who are most successful on the outside are either big to begin with (AJ Green, Megatron) or at least have the ability to go up and get the ball (Nicks, Wallace). DeSean loses again, being very fast, but also small.

    To put it succinctly, even if you’re in the “rare commodity” camp, you can probably admit DeSean isn’t a #1 WR. Someone else will likely lead the team in receptions, yards, and TDs. At least, this is true on the 2012 (and 2013) Eagles. Why? The Eagles don’t just have a fragile WR in DeSean Jackson, they also have a fragile QB in Mike Vick.

    DeSean is best using his top end speed to create separation. Doing that takes time. Vick isn’t going to get to hold the ball for 5 seconds before throwing on most passing plays. He’s either going to run or get hurt.

    More to the point, the big guys and the jumpers are not only going to help you move the ball down the field, they’re going to help you get a TD on 3rd and Goal from the 8. Send em out and throw the corner fade.

    I just feel that given his physical limitations, even setting fragility aside, DeSean isn’t a #1 receiver. If he isn’t, why pay him #1 receiver $? For the record, I also see Maclin as a “good, not great” WR. To get the most out of DeSean Jackson, you need to put him on the opposite side of the field from a Mike Wallace, AJ Green, or Megatron. In other words, he’s a #2 WR.

  • Anonymous

    Good stuff, as always.

    Why didn’t you cover the scenario where we trade him to SF for Patrick Willis and a 2nd Rd pick? Oh wait…you did say something about reality.

    This really isn’t a simple situation. Lots of layers and no easy answer. Will be interesting to see if the Eagles have learned anything from past mistakes or if they once again try a power-play that could backfire.

    • Anonymous

      San Fran would obviously give us Bowmann, Vernon Davis, and Patrick Willis if we throw a 5th round conditional in there

      • Anonymous

        I like where your head is at. You can be my Asst GM when I take over for Howie.

        • Anonymous

          Let the reign of PBR, Skoal, pudding, and Megan Fox posters in NOVACARE commence.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

      How can a power play backfire, exactly?

      If they play hardball and DeSean walks, and they don’t draft or sign a replacement, then will this offense suddenly become the 2011 Rams? Hardly.

      There is really very little downside to playing hardball with DeSean. If he leaves and you dont’ get any compensation, it simply doesn’t impact the team that much. The offense will be more than capable with the existing talent on the roster.

      • Anonymous

        I think the risk to which he is referring is that DeSean stays, and stays disgruntled.

  • Tracer Bullet

    “Hopefully, the organization has learned from its mistakes.”

    BWAHAHAHAHA. First time for everything, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I think I’m totally with Sam. I believe Desean is #2, a rare commodity. This article doesn’t even take into account his return skills, which suffered this year like everything else, but are pretty clearly All-Pro level based on his longer track record.

    I do like that it’s pointed out that replacing Desean with a FA wideout would almost certainly mean overpaying — the very reason many people want to move on from Desean. And like Sam says, teams have made lots of mistakes trying to project FA’s into new schemes. We know Desean works in this offense.

    And you’re certainly not replacing his production with a rookie — the rookies that put up numbers like Desean are typically selected high in the first round : i.e. AJ Green and Julio Jones.

    Not even trying to replace him doesn’t make any sense to me. If your QB is Tom Brady or Drew Brees, it makes some sense to me to build your offense around TEs or big WRs who can dominate the middle of the field. But our QB is Mike Vick, a guy built to attack the defense’s perimeter with his legs and big arm (and his struggles to throw through DL traffic in the middle of the field).

    Like Sam, I hope the Eagles have learned something and approach this with a lighter touch. I hope Desean realizes this is really the best place for him. I have some hope for this based on what seems to be a good relationship between Jackson and Big Red.

    • Anonymous

      Andy supports DeSean and has through thick and thin (which would be their name if they ever become a rap duo). I think DJax has come to appreciate this. It could have an effect on working out a deal, but we need one side to really budge if they’re $2M or so a year apart.

      • Tracer Bullet

        There is a certain about of poetry if the same $2 million they wasted on stev smit is the money that keeps Jackson from re-signing.

        • Anonymous

          Yeah. Smitty was a terrible signing. Waste of money, roster spot.

          • Anonymous

            But what if Maclin was a no go for the season… all they knew he could’ve been out of Football for life. Not defending Smith tho, he sucked and surely is a bad human being…

          • Anonymous

            If they wanted someone as insurance for Maclin they should have traded for Cruz. Giants were actually thinking of cutting him on final cutdown this yr. we probably could of given them a 6th rd pick. If any GM bothered to watch him in 2010 preseason it was OBVIOUS he was going to be just as good or better than he’s showed this yr. I can’t figure out how stupid evaluators are sometimes; I was hopeing we’d somehow steal him in ’10. My guess is they follow gossip more than common sense.

          • Anonymous

            If only Smith had stayed healthy and resigned with the Giants!

          • Anonymous

            Damn, I had forgotten how clever I thought we were to steal him from the Giants.

    • Anonymous

      The part that worries me a bit about projecting Garcon (I don’t know the keyboard shortcut for that little thingy above the o) and the Saints’ free agents onto our team is the quality of guys who were throwing them the ball. There is a distinct possibility that Brady and Breez made these guys look better than they will in Philly.

      • Anonymous

        It’s below the c though lol

        I agree Meachem is largely a product of Brees. Garcon, if you watched the quick screen a few years ago he took the house to beat Miami on MNF, has a class of quicks and speed that I think would translate well to the type of stuff we run.

        But you make a good point.

        I don’t think Garcon or Meachem would come here with half the expectations, or contract, that Jackson would be taking elsewhere. We would be bringing them into add depth to the overall group, not be superstars.

        • Anonymous

          Well, I don’t know how to do that thingy either…

          Maybe we can get Garçon without the contract DeSean wants ( I hope so) but the guy brought in when (if) DeSean leaves is going to have plenty of expectations heaped upon him.

  • Anonymous

    Ideally DeSean gets his head straight, becomes a good team mate, and accepts a contract that’s very incentive based… what’s the likelihood of that happening?

    I’d say roll the dice and let him walk. We can use the money on a good FA WR (and MLB) and try get a speedster in draft. All this while keeping the Eagles hard line with not budging to anyones demands.

    I still think there’s players out there that would be happy to take a discount in FA to play for us, and with those you really get ahead with your team. DeSean obviously isn’t giving us a discount…

  • Anonymous

    Lets try to get him somewhere amicably where (if, hopefully) someone is willing to overpay him. We get what we get, free up a little room, acquire (possibly) a mid tier FA WR – No #2 to Maclin and use one of our 2nd rounder on a RS///future Desean replacement. (Possibly Adams)

    I don’t want him showing up the week prior. The longer he is away the more “in his head,” he could become. This path solves a multitude of potential problems on the field, in the locker room and between two wide receivers with the same agent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

    The worst thing they can do is to mistakenly believe that DeSean is more valuable than he actually is, and either find themselves strong-armed into an unfavorable contract, or find themselves scrambling to reach for a WR in the first round of the draft or in free agency.

    There is very little downside to losing DeSean. Much less downside than, say, losing a stud CB, or a stud DE. Does he stretch the field? Maybe. Is the offense impotent without him on the field? No. There have been several games missed by DeSean over the past three years in which the offense replaced his production with Maclin’s, and didn’t miss a beat.

    This offense is built around the run game with McCoy and Vick’s ability to scramble and make plays outside of the pocket. They could get the two TEs involved even more so next year if DeSean leaves, and probably be better for it as an offense.

    • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

      So we know you are in bucket 1. Noted.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPZBMFBVAVUM65GQ3VDXOQDYZQ Morton

        Except that, in your later paragraph regarding “what to do with DeSean”, in your “bucket 1″ response, you go into great length about the perils of failing to replace him.

        I have a problem with that paragraph, because I believe that you can go into the 2012 season without a single DeSean replacement of any kind, neither through draft nor free agency, and still have a top-5 offense. So, if we assume that to be true, it makes your argument against that “bucket” to be fairly moot.

        If I were the Eagles FO, I would tell Drew Rosenhaus that we’re perfectly comfortable with our offense minus DeSean, and will not be willing to go higher than, say, $8m/year. If DeSean finds a better offer somewhere else, we wish him the best of luck, but if he insists on more money from the Eagles, then we will survive without him.

        • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

          So you said the first time. Again, noted. And a +1 for finding a position with zero chance of happening that preserves your right to whine about WR play regardless of how the offseason plays out. I would point out the 01-03 Eagles and the 06 Pats are pretty solid examples that suggest you are wrong; that said, circumstances are just different enough that you can dismiss those examples out of hand and maintain your ability to second guess everything. Well done.

          • Anonymous

            Actually, the 2003 Eagles had a great offense once McNabb’s thumb healed. The problem that year was a putrid defense that gave up 5.0 ypc the last ten games, despite that, McNabb threw for 64%, 8 ypa, and they went 9-1 over that stretch.

            The WRs? Thrash, Pinkston and Mitchell, with Lewis and LJ at TE. Not exactly a group of allstars.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t understand your argument at all. On one hand, you say that you would be willing to give DeSean 8 million/year, on the other, you claim his departure will be insignificant to the production of our offense. How do you possibly justify saying you are willing to pay a guy that kind of money if you honestly think he has zero net effect on the offense?

    • Anonymous

      Agree. I’d sign CB DRC ASAP. First you’re never going to get a better price for him than now. 2nd once DJax signs with a team for possibly $7 million per yr(if teams are smart enough) maybe McCoy will be smart enough to switch agents. Drew’s already screwed DJax out of $8 mil that would be in his pocket from ’11 which will never be recovered and now if we show no interest in him & other teams(aren’t stupid) don’t pay him more than the avg of the top 5 WR’s 9.5 mil. & closer to half that McCoy might understand Drew is screwing his clients lives.

      • Anonymous

        McCoy’s fired Drew twice already, switching is not out of the realm of possibility.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MIZ4JYNOUKDWRGXHDRK2MSY5AU Zachary

      Why is everyone so concerned about a bad contract? Have you all heard of this team a bit South of Philly called the Redskins? A bad contract doesn’t kill your team, there are ways to re-work them. If DeSean is important to us (and if you look at our lousy group of WR’s without him, I’m not sure how you could argue he isn’t) then pay him.

      If you think you can replace him fine – but you better be damn sure…

      Jeremy Maclin
      Riley Cooper
      Jason Avant
      Chad Hall
      Empty

      That isn’t what I call a strong point.

      Also in the games DeSean Jackson missed over the past two years….
      Arizona – Maclin 2 catches 6 yards, Eagles lost 21-17
      Tennessee – Maclin 5 for 42 yards, Eagles lost 37-19

      Count me in the WR is far and away the most important position the Eagles have to worry about this off season. With DeSean we don’t have a true #1, but we have a top threat. Without DeSean we have a #2 WR and a bunch of miscellaneous peices…

      • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

        I don’t get what you mean by the Redskins. The bad contracts, plus trading away draft picks, are what has hamstrung that franchise for 15 years.

  • Anonymous

    If the eagles keep desean, I’d still like them to look to upgrade Avant and Cooper. Joe Adams and a Sanu/Mcnutt type receiver…

  • Anonymous

    Let him go. See if he comes back and if not go kidnap Victor Cruz from Jersey. Can you imagine if Vick had a slot receiver like that? I love Jason Avant but his playmaking ability is not up to par for what Vick is going to need next year.

    • Anonymous

      By let him go I meant offer him a reasonable contract, let Drew convince him to test the FA market and see if he comes back after the Skins and Raiders offer him armored cars full of cash.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

        Can you imagine DeSean and Sexy Rexy in the locker room together, because I know I can… bawahaha

      • Anonymous

        Did you see Cruz in ’10 preseason? He looked just the way I thought he would when he got his chance. It will be hard for me to ever forgive Howie for being SO STUPID. Supposedly the Giants were considering letting him go before the start of ’11 season. We could of easily given them a 5th rd pick or something and get away with the biggest steal ever. That same talent was right there and as shown wouldn’t have changed.

        From my perspective I wouldn’t pay more than 4-5 mil for DJax. He’s not the same player he was since his last concussion and is lucky that he can deceive people from that by saying his poor performance this yr is due to the contract. It’s amazeing how Ray Rice has performed so well in the last yr of his rookie contract(as a RB which is a lot riskier than DJax’s situation) and at the same time try to help his team instead of trying to be a distraction on and off the field. Sometimes I wander if the TEAM would be better without him & his negative vibes since his last concussion.

  • Anonymous

    Did someone say this offense is built around McCoy and running the ball? :wacko:

    Secondly, this team isn’t going anywhere relying to Vick scrambling and making plays out of the pocket. You don’t win in the NFL by relying on broken plays. You need to be effective outside the pocket, but it should be your fall-back, not your offense.

    As the offense is currently constructed, you cannot focus on McCoy, Maclin and Jackson together. You simply don’t have enough players to effectively limit all three’s production week in and week out. You have to chose. Not any one of those is so outstanding that they can’t be taken away if a reasonably good defense so chooses. If you remove Jackson and replace him with Riley Cooper you basically the allowed a double team of Maclin–if needed which isn’t the case for the better CBs in the league–and you can still cheat the SS in the box to take away the seam with Celek or play the run. In other words, each one’s marginal contribution to the unit is much larger than each’s individual contribution in a vacuum.

    I’m not saying that DeSean is irreplaceable, but he’s a valuable piece to the unit.

    • Anonymous

      Also a good argument.

      The counterargument being, is it worth 9.5 million, or whatever it ends up being, for a “marginal contribution” to make the overall unit better? Could we find someone for cheaper who could also make a marginal contribution, enough of one to concern DCs who try to overload Shady or Maclin.

      It is a really good point though.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

    Listen, this all makes sense when you put it in the proper context.

    DeSean is obviously Theoden King of Rohan, and Drew is clearly Grima Wormtongue. Instead of his son dieing, DeSean’s father has died… and he is at the mercy of a smooth talking snake.

    Andy is playing the role of Eomer defending Theoden even though he has been disinherited.

    Joe Banner a.k.a. Gandalf arrives on the back of Howie (Shadowfax) Roseman to beat down Grima and bring the King back to life.

    DeSean is able to lead his people to safety with a new reasonable contract in hand and soundly defeats the armies of the White Hand (Blue Star) at Helm’s Deep (jerrah’s world).

    Eventually DeSean must realize that he is not the rightful king and give up his throne to Vick (Aragorn) who takes his place as the rightful leader of the Kingdom of Men (the Eagles offense) to lead them to victory. In the last battle vs. the Pats (led by the dark lord Sauron himself) DeSean is struck down with a concussion and Vick throws the winning TD pass to Eowyn (Riley Cooper).

    The ring of Belicheat is destroyed and the Lombardi trophy flies back to Philadelphia on the backs of a Giant Eagle.

    The End.

    • Anonymous

      The nerd is strong with this one. ;)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

        Thanks :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

      That is so good, I cant stop laughing

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

        I had a lot of fun writing it

    • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

      Ok, so in this story, who is Tom Bombadil?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

        That’s a good question… based on this excerpt which describes Bombadil “Behind Bombadil’s simple façade are hints of great knowledge and power, though limited to his own domain” and the fact that he doesn’t appear again in the story after the Council of Elrond I think I’m going to pick Asante Samuel due to his limited control over the outcome of games but his great displays of power particularly over “the Son’s of Archie”, plus in all likelihood he won’t be around for the rest of the story…

  • Anonymous

    I don’t but the argument that DeSean Jackson is worth whatever the highest bid for his services happens to be. It’s faulty logic and I hear it all the time. Value in DeSean isn’t measured by that; it’s measured by the market standard. If he wants top 5 money, logic follows that he should be able to provide top 5 production. There will always be some desperate team willing to overlay for a player–it happens in every sport and it almost never has to do with said players true fair value…just desperation to get a “star” player.

    • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

      So what though. That’s a hazard of free agency. There is no way we could possibly overpay DeSean by as much as we overpaid Nnamdi even if we gave DeSean a blank check. That’s the problem with not building successfully though the draft and not extending your own guys early at a fair price. You overpay in expectation when they hit free agency.

      DeSean isn’t worth the highest bid, but that’s what it will take to keep him, and is what it will take to sign any free agent. We don’t have enough high draft picks to know that we can successfully fill the places where we have inferior talent, so we are stuck with signing somebody. Better to sign the one you know, barring injury, will be good here.

      • Anonymous

        It could be a home run in the box score Sam, but I’m concerned about which snapshot of Desean’s career gives the best indication for his future. You appear to make the case of, “the talent you know is better than the talent you don’t know as well,” but has Desean instilled confidence of late? My vote above/below, wherever, stands.

  • Anonymous

    desean kind of let his team mates down, didnt he? i mean if he was in my locker room, and prevented me from winning games and making money, wouldn’t i be upset? you bet i would!

  • Anonymous

    i think the team can’t bend to drew rosenhaus because they’d probably want mccoy to re-fire him. cant give him an inch…

  • Anonymous

    What the?! I have no idea how that got there. Garçon, garçon, GARÇON. Wow, auto correct does good stuff somethimes too? Okay, now I’m on board. Let’s get him.

  • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

    It’s funny how we complain so much about the Eagles drafting, especially the early round picks, yet; the Patriots have pretty much failed at drafting the last couple of years too. But the Patriots have been in 2 Super Bowls the last 5 years and have had multiple 11+ win games, while the Eagles are still hovering around a .500 record and only an NFC championship game appearance on their resume.

    Know what the difference is? An elite QB.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not so sure about that. Gronk, Hernandez, Spikes, and Mayo were all early picks. Of course Brady is they key, but that group is better than Graham, Allen, Jarrett, Neshim by a wide margin.

      • Anonymous

        NE defense was much worse that eagle D this year. Much worse. Gronk and Hernandez just came on the scene last year.

        We wont beat every team in drafting every year. If u look at 2009 NE first two picks were Ron brace and Darius butler. Ours were Maclin and McCoy. I’m not feeling our 2010 draft but we haven’t been terrible over the years. I do think BG was a good pick.

      • Anonymous

        I think tHe best thing to do is compare our drafts to the teams with a similar qb. I haven’t done this but I would be curious. When u have an elite qb ur drafts always seem to work out better on the offensive side of the ball.

  • Anonymous

    The reason I would let DeSean walk is you don’t want an offense built around his skills for a number of reasons:

    1) he’s fragile, if he gets injured, then what?
    2) he’s easily taken out by good defenses, just look at his career
    3) it distorts the offense.

    If you build an offense around a star skill player, you want someone durable and magical, by that I mean someone who makes key plays, not just “big” plays, think Fitz, if it’s third and 8, he’s the target, despite having little talent around him he comes through more often than not.

    DeSean has one exceptional skill which is sure to deteriorate the next few years, and that is his exceptional acceleration, take that away, and he quickly becomes mediocre. And that skill simply isn’t replaceable, so if your offense is built around him opening up the field, what if he is injured and/or slows down?

    On the other hand, if you build your offense around multiple players with complementary skills, it’s much easier to adjust to injuries, Harbor may not be as good of a receiver as Celek, but he has the upside to give you a shot at similar production. If you ask Cooper to run DeSean’s out routes on a regular basis, you cripple your offense. But if you use Cooper as a big WR, and bring in another WR, and let Maclin run the whole route tree, you have more options.

    Now if DeSean was affordable, he’d be a great deep decoy, the best in the league, but he’d still be primarily a decoy (i.e. the fast WR who runs deep on a regular basis, forcing the FS to account for him, but is not the key to the offense). However, if you pay him $10M or so, he has to be a lot more, he has to be your best offensive player. Which he clearly isn’t, at least if they want to be a serious playoff contender (i.e., your best players better be red zone TD producers).

    • Anonymous

      I sorta agree with you, but I think you need to have someone on your offense that is a match-up problem that Ds must struggle with. It doesn’t have to be Jackson per se, but it needs to be someone. This notion that they could get by with what they have I see as flawed, unless Vick really elevates or the D really gells. Look at the best offenses in the league; NO, NE, GB. They have 2 common threads by no coincidence, imo; top QB AND at least one nightmare for a defense match-up with. They also all have a collection of complimentary weapons as you note, but unless you have that one guy that really makes the D fight to eliminate his effectiveness, a collection of complemtary weapons is the sum being less than the value of the the individuals.

      • Anonymous

        Everyone wants djax, its just that we don’t want to pay him more than he is worth. If we lose him we have to replace him with an early pick or good free agent. I don’t want to go back to feeling like nobody is ever open. Most likely that was just mccnab be over cautious but I think we forget how it was for a few years when it seemed like we were always going 3 and out

  • Anonymous

    Though we seem to be in the minority here, I am with you Sam.

    I rather keep Desean and know what to get than rolling the dice on another overpriced FA or unproven Rookie.

    By the way I doubt that even 20% of the ‘elite’ WRs will hit Free Agency…

  • Anonymous

    Funny how I always hear didinger talk about how he wanted Earl thomas and we grabbed BG. He also wanted pettigrew really bad and we took Maclin but I never heard him mention that after the first year.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see us keep DeSean. He’s one of the most exciting players in the league and certainly one of the best receivers the Eagles have ever had. The biggest question with him is the dropoff in production, and his hesitation to go all out, since his concussions. Was last season an anomaly or the new norm? If I were the Eagles, I’d offer DeSean a 5 year contract that began at 7mil and raised 1 mil each season, ending at 11 mil in the 5th year for an average of 9 mil per year. This gives DeSean close to the amount he wants (and a deal I think he couldn’t say no to) and gives the Eagles a couple of years to see if DeSean’s so-so year is an exception or if he can bounce back to his old self. I’m guessing he bounces back. He’s one of the most competitive guys on the team.

  • Anonymous

    Great job, Sam. I wasn’t aware of all the particluars related to the Franchise Tag.

  • Anonymous

    Tommy/Sam – any chance Blackmon will be on the board at 15? “That said, the Eagles might have a view more like point 1. If so, I just hope that they don’t fall into the same trap they fell into” – if I were a betting man I would deffy bet Banner will be the hard ass (which I think becomes concrete when he sees Rosenhaus on the other side of the negotiating table) and will not bend…and I would not be surprised if they actually bungle this whole thing up…I would think Reid would lobby for DeSean (especially with his love for the big play offense and also the fact that his generous behind is on the hot seat which may end up being his last season here)…..Rosenhaus is probably the least welcomed agent with the Eagles FO

  • Anonymous

    Nice write up. I put myself in category 2, wholeheartedly. I think the reason other players such as Celek and Maclin get as many red zone chances is because they are in the red zone so much largely based on Jackson’s affect on the defenses. I think if he leaves, their numbers decrease.

    But more importantly, what does “overpay” mean? What is the goal? To win the Superbowl or to run a business?

    So the real question I think that needs to be answered is, “What increases the Eagles chances of winning the SB more? Having Jackson on the team or replacing him with someone else?”

    Do you know what I think would be quite scary? Jackson going to Detroit, in a dome, lining up opposite CJ. CJ could have 25 TD’s and Jackson’s could have only 4. But overpaying for him would be worth it not for his own statistical production but what he does for everyone else.

    Also, as far as his fragility, I agree. But 4 years in the NFL might as well be an eternity. The roster could be 70% overturned by then. Worrying about that now seems illogical (from a winning standpoint, maybe not a business standpoint).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000462635892 Thorin McGee

    I didn’t get on this during the heat of the commenting last night, but it’s a great analysis, Sam.

    The problem with Jackson I think is this: he IS all three of these things. So every time we talk about him, we wind up throwing one of those out.

    – He has rare speed and elusiveness, perhaps the best combination of that in the league! (There are other contenders, but I’ve never seen anyone do some of the things he’s done just with speed.)
    – But at the same time he is a liability at the goal line. However, this is an addition-by-subtraction situation. They already bench him at the goal line and they could do that more often. therefore, losing DeSean doesn’t help that at all. Maybe you replace him with someone better at the goal line, but you’re not replacing his speed, it’s just a trade off.
    – He is fragile, and he may flame out soon. Can he fix that somehow?

    I think that all points to a short-term contract where you accept overpaying somewhat for his services. I doubt he’ll accept a low signing bonus (Drew won’t) but I keep saying incentives could be used to mitigate the risks of underperformance.

    But no mater what i think, all of those things being true mean that there’s no irrefutable way to discuss this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000462635892 Thorin McGee

    The one intangible thing that really sways me toward wanting them to pay DeSean is this: He generated such a good buzz and feeling around this team and in the city his first year, that I’d hate to see us waste that. This thing started so good that I think it’s a shame we let it get where it is. I just feel like even now by leaving him pissy for a season, the Eagles have paid a large price that doesn’t show up in the books.

    That vibe may be worth more than $2 million a year.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EBX22KXLVMAJDUF2I53ISNTOII Christian

    Interesting that nobody talks about the Cap at the moment. If you tag #10 then you really have a problem signing guys at other positions. It really handcuffs you.

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  • Anonymous

    Why not trade Desean for a decent backup qb? One of NE’s guys. I’d be happy with that.