Eagles

How DeSean Jackson's future has changed

How DeSean Jackson's future has changed

No matter what your opinion of DeSean Jackson’s social media posts, no matter how you feel the Eagles should discipline him — if at all — one thing is indisputable.

This will follow D-Jack around long beyond the end of his football career.

It’s been 25 years since “For Who, For What,” but just say the name Ricky Watters and that’s what everybody thinks.

People don’t forget. And so many athletes, no matter how much good they do, no matter how well-intentioned, are defined by their worst moments.

So let’s take a look at Jackson’s future from several different perspectives and how the events of the last few days might affect him.

DeSean’s Eagles Future

Jackson is signed through 2021 at $6.2 million this year and $8.2 million next year, although $4.8 million of his 2020 base salary is guaranteed.

Normally, he would get that $4.8 million regardless of whether he's on the team or not. But depending on the language in his contract, if the Eagles do release Jackson they could try to reclaim some or all of that $4.8 million because of the nature of his social media posts.

Even if the Eagles don’t release Jackson now, this could certainly affect their future decision making. Unless he has a huge bounce-back season it would have been hard to imagine them keeping him after this year anyway. 

Financially, it would be a lot easier for the Eagles to cut ties with Jackson next offseason than now. He would count about $12.9 million in dead money today - which is $4.3 million more than his cap figure. So that’s a bigger cap hit if they cut him than keep him.

But next year they would be on the hook for only $5.8 million in dead money, or $2.4 million less than his cap figure.

If there’s any question after this season whether or not to keep Jackson, the tiebreaker could very well become the events of the past few days. 

Bottom line is it’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where Jackson is still an Eagle this time next year.

DeSean’s NFL Future

What if he hits the open market?

Jackson will be 34 in December, and he's going into his 13th season. But wide receivers routinely excel well into their mid-30s. Some 25 receivers have had 1,000-yard seasons at 34 or older, including Irving Fryar, who had two in a row for the Eagles at 34 and 35.

It sure looked in the opener last year that Jackson can still run and can still play, but if the Eagles do cut ties with him at any point it’s safe to say his chances of hooking on with another team are considerably lower because of this incident. 

In Philly, Jackson has a lot of equity built up, since he spent his first six years here and has been a terrific player and one of the most popular Eagles of the past decade.

It will be much harder for a franchise in a city where Jackson doesn’t have that equity to sign him and justify it to fans who don’t really know DeSean.

Think about T.O. He had 72 catches for 983 yards and 9 TDs for the Bengals at 37 years old in 2010, but franchises were so weary of his antics that he never even got into a camp again.

Not saying that will happen with DeSean. There's always the Raiders. But there’s no question that this could cut his career short. 

Endorsements

Despite a strong personality and a tremendous career, Jackson has never gotten a ton of endorsements. 

In 2015, he signed a deal with BRANDBLACK, a men’s clothing line that introduced a training show called the DJX 1. He’s also done commercials for Foot Locker.

Now? It’s hard to imagine any company hiring Jackson to represent them. Companies don't want the headaches that come with being represented by someone who has shown this level of misjudgment.

After Football

Whatever Jackson hopes to do after football becomes much more difficult now. If he wanted to go into broadcasting or start a business or even work for the Eagles, all that becomes iffy.

The Eagles have gone out of their way to hire numerous former players in various roles with their front office and coaching staff, most notably 1999 opening-day quarterback Doug Pederson.

Brian Dawkins spent two years in the team’s scouting department. The Eagles added Brent Celek, Darren Sproles and Connor Barwin to various front office roles in February. Former Eagle Duce Staley has been an assistant coach for nine years, and Greg Lewis, Mike Bartrum, Mike Zordich, Mike Caldwell, G.J. Kinne all became assistant coaches after playing for the Eagles.

Tough to imagine Jackson joining the Eagles in any capacity at this point. Not to say it won’t ever happen. Just hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t know what Jackson’s plans are after football, but he’ll have some work to do to rehabilitate his image 

Hall of Fame

A year ago this month I wrote about Jackson’s Hall of Fame chances, which aren’t as outlandish as you might initially think.

Consider:

Jackson’s 17.4 yards-per-catch is by far the highest in the NFL in the last 35 years (Henry Ellard is 2nd at 16.9). His 24 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are most in NFL history. He’s the only player in NFL history to lead the league in yards per catch four times. He’s one of only six players in NFL history with 10,000 receiving yards and an average of at least 17.0 yards per catch.

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s bylaws, candidates should only be judged on their achievements on the field and contributions to the game. But let’s be honest. There’s a reason T.O. didn’t get in until his third year of eligibility despite trailing only Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald in career receiving yards.

The voters consider everything, and any shot Jackson had before the past few days has likely dwindled dramatically.

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Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

DeSean Jackson is 33 years old now and he’s coming off a sports hernia surgery that basically wrecked his 2019 season. 

But he still has it. 

On Friday afternoon, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson shared some 1-on-1 practice video that Jackson sent his way from the Eagles’ ongoing training camp practices. Johnson was pretty excited to get these clips and posted a couple on his Twitter account. 

That one is Jackson going against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, in his first training camp with the Eagles. This will be a fun battle all camp long. Last year in training camp, DeSean dominated but he didn’t have a top tier cornerback to go against. 

It was fun to watch Jackson do this to the DBs in camp last year, but now he’s going against a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the best corners in the game. And Slay still stood no chance. 

That little hesitation step from Jackson and the explosion out of it is pretty wild. In a regular foot race no one is going to beat Jackson; if he gets the DB flat-footed, forget about it. And Jackson is going to beat corners as long as he’s healthy. That’s why so many defensive coordinators slide any help they can that way. 

And then there’s this hitch route that Johnson posted with some NSFW language.

On that one, you can see that Slay has to respect the deep ball and Jackson has that change of direction ability. One of the misconceptions about Jackson is that he’s just a go route deep threat; but that’s not the case. He can run short and intermediate routes well and it’s all set up from his ability to burn corners deep. 

The Eagles won’t be in pads until Monday, which is also when reporters are allowed to watch practice. I can’t wait to see this battle in person and report back. 

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Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Twenty-five years ago, Randall Cunningham retired after a dismal final season with the Eagles. 

Two years later he came out of retirement, signed with the Vikings and a year later had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever, earned MVP honors and would have taken the Vikings to the Super Bowl if not for some terrible coaching by Dennis Green.

Cunningham’s offensive coordinator his last year in Philly? Jon Gruden.

Gruden today is head coach of the Raiders, and one of his pet projects is Nelson Agholor.

“A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him,” Gruden told the Athletic.

Interestingly, Cunningham, who settled in Las Vegas after playing college football at UNLV, is now the Raiders’ team chaplain.

As for Agholor, he’s trying to rebuild a career that despite some great moments in 2017 and a brilliant Super Bowl never lived up to expectations.

"I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason,” Gruden said of Agholor. "He’s a good player. You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he’s a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot. He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl (9-for-84) and won a Super Bowl. So he's a world champion. He's a great person.”

Agholor caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the Eagles, who made him the 20th pick in Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft.

He never caught more than 768 yards in a season and he surpassed 64 yards in only nine of his 76 games here.

Agholor said he and Gruden actually have a family connection that goes back to when he was in high school at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and Gruden had just finished coaching the Buccaneers.

“He actually used to hang around after his days coaching in Tampa, he still lived in Tampa, and he would always go to a racetrack near his home, and my brother worked at that racetrack so him and my brother spent a lot of time talking every morning when Jon was getting his coffee about football and about my college career and things like that,” Agholor said in a Zoom call with Raiders writers. 

“So it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity having a previous relationship. But at the end of the day I chose this relationship because he knows the game and all I want to do is learn and be a better player.”

The Eagles, who paid Agholor nearly $19 million over the last five years, made no attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old after last season ended.

He signed a one-year minimum salary benefit deal with the Raiders worth barely above minimum wage - $1.0475 million.

In Vegas, he’ll likely compete for slot reps with Hunter Renfrow, who had 49-for-605 with 4 TDs as a rookie 5th-round pick last year.

“Honestly, this is a beautiful opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a guy like Jon Gruden, who has a background in coaching receivers,” Agholor said. “I chose this opportunity to make myself a better player. There’s no better opportunity to play for a head coach that knows receiver play and can articulate ways you can get better.

“My No. 1 goal is to progress as a player.  Lot of things that happened in the past, some really good things and some things I wanted to grow from. I told myself this opportunity is to be 2 percent better than the player I was in my previous five years.”
 

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