DeSean Jackson signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Redskins Wednesday that contains $16 million guaranteed. That’s $1 million more in guaranteed coin than he got from the Eagles in the five-year deal he signed in the 2012 offseason. A win for agent Joel Segal, who wasn’t receiving commission from the previous contract. A loss for Drew Rosenhaus, who was. And a quick bounceback for a receiver that was released less than a week ago alongside a report about his alleged gang ties.
Jackson not only landed on his feet, but did so less than 150 miles from here. Had the Eagles been successful in their trade pursuits, perhaps they could have shipped him out of conference or to the other side of the country. They forfeited any control when they cut him, and he ended up in their back yard. It’s going to be a huge, league-wide story line for at least the upcoming season. (Something tells me the NFL, which is expected to release the 2014 schedule at the end of the month, will have Jackson’s return to Philly prominently featured.) If Jackson ended up in Oakland, say, the Eagles would still be questioned and the Jackson decision would still impact the way the upcoming campaign is discussed and analyzed. But distance and time have a way of dulling even the sharpest of angles.
Here, there is no space. Just months worth of kindle and intrigue.
Jackson — an eccentric, gifted Pro Bowler in the square of his prime — remains within the division. The Eagles will now be measured not just by their own success and failures, but also by those of one of their top rivals.
And Jackson has the opportunity to stick it to his old boss twice a year. I do think that will motivate the 27-year-old on game day. As one of the more slightly-built men in a game full of giants, he seeks out ways to capture a mental edge and reasons to work himself into fight-out-of-the-corner mode. This is a slam dunk way to do that.
I’m not so sure that was part of his motivation for signing in Washington. Honestly, he has bigger things to worry about. While the Eagles need to be questioned for the decision to part ways with such a talent (and how they went about it), Jackson needs to own some of this as well. Stars in their mid-20’s don’t get cut out of nowhere. There was concern about his off-field behavior and associations. Has been for some time now. That goes beyond football. Some of those closest to him were worried; some of his tightest allies have been forced out of the inner-circle. Part of the reason the Redskins were appealing to some close to Jackson is because of a “support network” that exists in the area. Ultimately, though, it’s up to Jackson to make some critical choices.
“I think sometimes it takes a change in your life to understand really what needs to happen, and the course that needs to be set,” Michael Vick said on March 25, via the New York Daily News. “Maybe it’s time for a change for DeSean to help him understand the maturation process of his young NFL life and his personal life.”
Jackson is not without his flaws and has at times put personal interests in front of the team. But then, find me an NFL roster that has nothing but perfect “culture fits” on it. Headaches are part of the deal. It’s about having a strong locker room overall that can prevent those headaches from being infectious. Last year was a great example of that, actually. Jackson was as good as I’ve seen him both as a player and professional (though, granted, there could have been some things going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of). Chip Kelly did a good job of establishing a positive atmosphere and identifying players that could help keep the outlook healthy.
Despite that success in his first year, and Jackson’s contributions to it, Kelly decided to cut bait. Time will tell if the head coach just steered this organization into a pylon or away from one.