The Philadelphia Eagles removed the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson Wednesday, signing him to a five-year, $48.5 million extension according to NFL sources. It was about $300,000 per year more than he would have earned as a franchise player, but no official statement has been made about guaranteed money.
Meanwhile, that tag remains on Drew Brees, who is obviously unhappy about its use. According to chatter on NFL Network, it is likely he will not play unless he gets a long-term deal with substantial guaranteed money.
Both teams are making mistakes.
Everyone but Andy Reid (or at least his lying tongue) saw Jackson tanking in last season’s disappointing 8-8 run. He had a career low in total yards (1123), numbers that have now gone down for two straight seasons.
As an undersized player at a vulnerable position with nothing guaranteed, was he somewhat justified in not risking his health over the middle? Sure, but he has been a headcase since he was in college—the same reason the Chicago Bears are playing with fire in acquiring Brandon Marshall, who should face a four-game suspension.
His immaturity and potential for injury are the very reasons the Eagles did not want to pay him then. So why do it now when he showcased such a lack of character?
By contrast, Drew Brees has never had those problems. We hear all the time that the NFL is a business, but keeping your best player happy is the right decision for any employer.
Using this leverage to back one of only three elite NFL quarterbacks into a corner is not smart. Doing it in a year you may have coaches suspended and face other penalties for the bounty scandal is just plain dumb. They need to get a deal done commensurate with his ability quickly before resentment builds.