Eagles Wake-Up Call: Virtual Contract Year For DeSean

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean JacksonIt won’t be long before DeSean Jackson‘s contract becomes a topic of conversation once again.

The well-documented two-year mini-drama between team and player  ended when the Eagles appeased the mercurial receiver by giving him a five-year, $51 million deal in March of 2012. But the peace treaty is really neither that long nor valuable. We know in the NFL, contracts aren’t what they appear. What  counts is guaranteed money. And after this season, that guaranteed cash runs out.

The way the deal is structured, the Eagles essentially committed to  Jackson for two seasons, paying him $18 million over that time. The rest of the contract is basically filled with option years, and they come at a steep price.

Jackson is slated to make $6.75 million this season ($4 million fully guaranteed), which is the fifth-highest base salary among receivers in ’13, per spotrac.com. That number jumps to $10.25 million in 2014, and hovers around there for the remainder of the deal. That’s right up there with Larry Fitzgerald‘s salary ($12.75). Roddy White‘s take-home for next season is less than half that number.

If Jackson thrives under Chip Kelly and regains his Pro Bowl form, it’s tough to envision the Eagles changing a thing. But if he proves incapable of recapturing  the lightning, chances are that  at a minimum Jackson would be asked to restructure.

And so, this is very much a contract year for the 26-year-old wideout.

In his two Pro Bowl seasons (’09 and ’10) Jackson averaged 21 yards per catch, over 1,100 yards per season and racked up a combined 20 touchdowns. Over the last two years, he averaged 16 yards per catch, 830 yards per season (in three less games) and found the end zone just six times. There were extenuating circumstances, sure, but stars are asked to rise above those circumstances and perform.

There was a time when you could argue that Jackson was one the game’s elite receivers/playmakers. Recently, that has become a more  difficult argument to make. In order to keep that big money coming in, he’ll have to show that there is plenty of film left in that highlight reel.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil’s depth chart outlook continues with an examination of the inside linebackers.

Is Michael Vick capable of running a Chip Kelly offense?

Troy Vincent calls on Patrick Chung. 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

LeSean McCoy gave his side of the story about his race against Vick to NFL Network.

“I don’t want to tell the world what really happened, but I think I need to. Mike jumped early, OK? Considering his age I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. He jumped early and I caught him at the end, but they said he won. So I think for the public and the publicity, Mike beat me.”

So he’s a cheater but he beat you?

“Yeah,” said McCoy. “And he won’t give me a rematch, so that tells you why.”

Free-agent running back Felix Jones, who recently met with the Eagles, is making another visit.

The Eagles believe Jones to be a solid player and wouldn’t be adverse to adding some competition, but nothing was imminent as of Wednesday night.

COMING UP

A Twitter Mailbag, a piece on Lane Johnson and more.

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