By Andrew Porter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What you’re about to read is not an endorsement of trading DeSean Jackson. This is not something I’m campaigning for.
I’m just trying to make sense of the idea. DeSean Jackson is a game-changing, thrilling, incredible player to watch. The “Miracle at the Meadowlands Number Three,” we’ll never forget. We want to see this offense with Nick Foles at the helm, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield, Zach Ertz and Brent Celek at tight end, and Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, AND Jackson catching balls. It seems unstoppable.
But for a moment, let’s take the passion and the feeling out of the decision. Put on your general manager goggles. Pretend you’re Howie Roseman.
You’re a GM now. Say it with me: “I’m a GM, I’m a GM.”
Here are the main reasons that Howie Roseman and the Eagles are strongly considering trading DeSean Jackson.
2014 – $12.5 million cap hit
2015- $12 million cap hit
2016- $10.5 million cap hit
It’s all about the Benjamins! Look at those cap hits over the next three seasons. His 2014 cap hit is 5th highest in the NFL among wide receivers. The only four WR’s that have higher cap hits than Jackson are: Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson, Percy Harvin, and Calvin Johnson.
By comparison, the 22nd pick of the 2013 NFL draft, CB Desmond Trufant, signed a four year deal $8.16 million. His cap hit each season on that four year deal rangers from about $1.85 million in 2014 to $2.6 million in 2017, considerably less than Jackson’s cap hit each of those season from 2014-2016.
The Eagles would be saving about $28.35 million in cap space over those three seasons by going with a rookie wide receiver with the 22nd pick instead of Jackson. That extra cap money would be used predominantly to bolster their improving defense and extend contracts to guys like Nick Foles.
2. 2014 wide receiver draft class talent
Top seven WR’s via CBSSports:
Sammy Watkins – 6’1″, 211
Mike Evans – 6’5″, 231
Marqise Lee – 6’0″, 192
Odell Beckham Jr. – 5’11”, 198
Brandin Cooks – 5’10”, 189
Kelvin Benjamin – 6’5″, 240
Allen Robinson – 6’2″, 220
The WR position is regarded as the deepest position in the 2014 draft, loaded with talent, so ideally you can replace Jackson’s production with a rookie. That’s easier said than done, of course, but that’s the idea.
Since you are saving a little over $9 million per season over the next three seasons, if you can get even close to Jackson’s production from this rookie receiver, say 75 cents to the dollar, it would be an incredible trade. And don’t forget you are getting a draft pick in exchange for Jackson, and a third round pick (for example) could definitely be used to strengthen the roster.
Imagine if the wide receiver you draft turns out to be better than DeSean Jackson? It could happen. Imagine if that defensive player you trade with the pick you get turns into a Pro Bowl linebacker? You never know.
3. In Chip We Trust
Nobody is more confident in Chip Kelly and his offense than Chip Kelly himself. In his mind, a speedy, game breaker wide receiver is expendable. Before last season, Jackson’s best season was 2009, when he had 62 catches for 1,156 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers.
In Jackson’s first season in Kelly’s system, he had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. Coincidence? I don’t think so, and you’d have to guess Kelly doesn’t either. The Eagles set franchise records offensively and they just added Darren Sproles, one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in all of the NFL, as well as Jeremy Maclin.
They won’t expect this rookie receiver they potentially draft in the first round to give them DeSean Jackson like production, but with this rookie receiver, plus Maclin, plus Sproles, that should be plenty adequate enough to replace Jackson’s production.
4. Jackson’s Antics
As much as people want to think Jackson’s antics, behavior, and attitude problems are overblown, it’s not. It’s real, whether you agree with it or not. While Jackson has never gotten into actual trouble, there has to be something behind the scenes that bothers the Eagles. They are very focused on team chemistry and Jackson, again whether you agree or disagree, might not fit into that. A potential rookie receiver drafted in the first round would come into the system eager to learn the ropes and the Eagles can groom him to fit their system.
Again, I’m not saying the Eagles should without a doubt move DeSean Jackson. They are going to compete for a Super Bowl this year, with or without DeSean Jackson, and I would love to see what this offense would look like with Jackson in it. I’m sure we all would.
But if the Eagles are offered a third round pick or more for the 27-year old “diva” wide receiver, they have to consider making the deal, and you should understand why.
Andrew Porter is the Audio Roadshow Coordinator for SportsRadio WIP, editor and writer for The School Philly, and a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly. You can follow him on Twitter @And_Porter.