Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — DeSean Jackson was going. He was staying. He was going again. He was definitely going. Now, it appears, that the man that’s recently starred in the ongoing soap opera of As The Eagles Turn could still be an Eagle.
No one knows for certain what truly lies ahead.
What we do know is that the Eagles were indeed shopping the speedy, mercurial receiver—which was newsworthy, and not a media creation, but the Eagles found out the market value for Jackson wasn’t as great as they thought. Nor was it what Jackson probably wanted to hear, either.
We know that despite the fact that Jackson posted career numbers of 82 receptions, for 1.332 yards and 9 touchdowns, all it seems the Eagles were able to garner was a third-round draft pick, although his numbers screamed a first-round choice.
We also know that Jackson has a new agent and mentioned something about a “new contract” the day after the Eagles were ousted by the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs.
The whole sorted mess has left the Eagles in damage-control mode. They’re forced to soothe the fragile ego of Jackson, and are left with an issue that could fester and possibly bleed into training camp.
Chip Kelly addressed some of those matters on Wednesday at the NFL owner’s meeting in Orlando, Florida.
“He didn’t ask for a new contract. I think he was asked a question in the locker room post game, but DeSean never came to me or never came to anybody—Howie [Roseman] or anybody and said I wanted a new contract. He never came to us and said I want a new contract,” Kelly said. “I don’t care [that he went to the media about]. I really don’t care. My conversations about players are how we deal with our players as we deal with them face-to-face or talk to them. If someone wants to talk to the media and say different things I don’t send my message back to those guys through the media. So, if he has an issue with anything—and I’ve talked to him after the season and I’ve talked to him after that. I said, come talk to us and in that conversation that never came up.”
“I don’t deal with numbers. That’s not my job. My decisions are all where do guys play, fit, scheme-wise, all those other things. We have a general overall concept of how we do things, but I don’t sit there and punch cap numbers or anything like that.”
It has to be asked: Will Jackson harbor any resentment over these last three weeks of being dangled as trade bait—and not getting a new contract? Will it affect his play?
The answers: yes, and no.
Jackson can be angry all he wants behind closed doors and outside the Eagles’ locker room, away from the media. But with the chance to pull in his largest payday in 2014, $12.75-million, including bonuses that counts against the Eagles’ cap, Jackson, who can be a diva and a malcontent, knows enough to shut up to defuse this mishmash.
One thing seems certain, from all the cryptic tweets and Instragrams, Jackson appears to like playing in Kelly’s system. The numbers prove it. Also, Jackson didn’t whine when he was demoted in June during OTAs. He went right to Kelly and asked the new Eagles’ head coach what he needed to do to retain his first-team status.
It appears Kelly likes Jackson.
“My conversation between DeSean is between myself and DeSean,” Kelly added. “We got along well [last season]. DeSean did a good job. He played 16 games for us and practiced every day. I had no issues with him.”
The Eagles may still jettison Jackson. They’re too smart to outright release a 9-TD, 1,300-yard receiver that stretches the field. Letting Jackson go seems far more remote now than it was a few weeks ago. But the Eagles—and Kelly—have a few areas to address: That’s placate Jackson for another year; and untangle their communication lines.
Kelly told reporters on Wednesday that “I like DeSean, but we’re going to do what’s best for the team.”
The Eagles are scheduled to begin voluntary workouts on April 21. Kelly was noncommittal whether or not Jackson would be there.
“I don’t anticipate anybody being on the roster at that point in time or I anticipate them all being,” Kelly said. “I’ve never been, and you guys have been around me for a year, I don’t predict the future. So when we get rolling on April 21st and we’ll get going. The other thing about April 21st is it’s not mandatory for anybody either. I anticipate Nick Foles being here for the next 999 years. Last year was 1,000 so now we’re down a year. When we show up on April 21st we’re going to have our first team meeting and we’ll go from there.”
Here’s saying Jackson is at OTAs on April 21—and beyond. Though a more telling date could be Thursday, May 8. That’s the first round of the draft.
And now All-Pro guard Evan Mathis may be trade bait—because he’s not happy with his contract, according to a report.
Stay tuned for another episode for As The Eagles Turn.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.