By Rich Tandler
Philly.com is reporting that the Eagles will put the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson. The wide receiver, who is entering his fifth year in the league, would become an unrestricted free agent without the tag.
Jackson is one of the game’s top big-play threats as both a receiver and a punt returner. He averaged 18.5 yards per reception in 2009 and a league-leading 22.5 yards in 2010. Jackson was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Last year, however, his production fell off, as his desire for a new contract became a distraction. He missed some of training camp and was benched during games on more than one occasion.
That left Jackson as damaged goods to some extent. Still, he remains a dynamic receiver and it would make no sense for the Eagles to let him walk.
The Eagles would have the option of trading Jackson under the tag but it seems likely he will play for the Eagles for the franchise wide receiver salary of nearly $10 million. Many Philly fans were calling for coach Any Reid to be fired last year as the Eagles finished 8-8 despite some big-name free agent additions. His job certainly could be in jeopardy if the team has another disappointing season. It would seem that having Jackson on the field would be better for the 2012 Eagles than having whatever draft picks they might get in for him in a trade.
Washington has been victimized by Jackson’s ability to break big plays the past two years. Last year he got free for a 62-yard touchdown reception and he started off Philadelphia’s 59-28 rout at Washington in 2008 by catching an 88-yard TD bomb from Michael Vick on the game’s first play.
The Redskins could be looking for wide receiver help in free agency and some have speculated about the possibility of them pursuing Jackson. Signing him would have the potential to give the Redskins the playmaking threat that they desperately need while simultaneously weakening their division rival. However, such a move seemed to be unlikely after the issues surrounding Jackson last year and the application of the tag would seem to completely rule out seeing Jackson in burgundy and gold.