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.
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.
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.
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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