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Birdwatcher
If you want an example of how a good organization manages risk and procures talent, look at the Eagles and what they did over the past 12 months with DeSean Jackson. When the team neglected to sign Jackson to a long-term deal before the 2011 season, he held out for a week before returning to training camp. He reportedly wanted a deal that was comparable to or in excess of Santonio Holmes's five-year, $45 million contract that allowed for $24 million in guaranteed money. The Eagles were all-in for a 2012 title and could have used a respite from any contractual distractions, but they weren't willing to break the bank and buy high on Jackson because they had both perspective and leverage.

Before last season, we wrote about Jackson's subpar catch rate and why it drained some of the value out of his big-play ability. We also should have noted how unsustainable Jackson's yardage was, as the speed demon averaged an incredible 22.5 yards per catch in 2010 after averaging 16.6 yards per grab during 2008 and 2009. There's virtually no precedent for a player averaging those sorts of yards per catch in consecutive years, and Jackson was extremely unlikely to be the exception. Furthermore, the Eagles held all the leverage by virtue of the franchise tag, which seemed destined for Jackson after Philly locked up virtually every other big-name free agent they had pending. They could have caved, but they were a disciplined organization and chose to wait.

Jackson's contract year was far from monstrous. His catch rate failed to improve to league average, and his yards per catch dropped off to the exact same 16.6 figure he averaged during the first two years of his career. Jackson was dismal on punt returns, disappointing when his team needed him, and with just four touchdowns, he looked like a shell of the player who terrified teams next to Mike Vick just a year earlier.

The Eagles chose this, the low point in terms of Jackson's leverage and value, to pounce on locking him up. After franchising him, the Eagles dangled the carrot of a long-term deal in front of Jackson and got him to agree to a contract for far below his market value. While Jackson's deal sounds big five years, $51 million it contains just $15 million in guaranteed money. That's $10 million less than what the Jets guaranteed Santonio Holmes, and it's virtually identical to what the Jaguars just gave Laurent Robinson. Hell, it's only about $6 million more than what the Eagles had already guaranteed Jackson for one season as part of the franchise tag process.

That's an unfathomably good deal, and because they saved $15 million or so by waiting on Jackson as opposed to paying him for his outlier season (as the Jaguars likely would have done), Philly was also able to re-sign star pass-rusher Trent Cole and able run-stuffer Antonio Dixon on Wednesday. Some of the money saved will also go to a new deal for LeSean McCoy. Although the Eagles are one of the NFL's more analytics-friendly organizations, this sort of forward thinking doesn't take some crazy advanced math. It just takes a bit of common sense and financial planning.
Eyrie
I think like most people my attitude was that I'd prefer Jackson to stay but only for a reasonable figure, so that was a nice read on how mission was accomplished.
nephillymike
Yeah but it only worked because Jackson had an immature fit, was benched for a very important game which was the difference between a playoff spot or not, and had a distracted subpar year.

The battle was the contract with Jackson. The war was a chance to win the Super Bowl. Our loss vs. Arizona gave the NYG the opportunnity to win the war and gave us the opportunity to win the battle. They won the war in February, we won the battle in March.

Sorry but I just can't gather your enthusiasm on this one.
Eyrie
I disagree that we would have won the SuperBowl had we beaten Arizona. So we'd have had one more win and edged the NJ VaGiants on division record to take the NFC East and make it into the playoffs, but it's a long road from there.
Rick
QUOTE (Eyrie @ Mar 18 2012, 03:25 PM) *
I disagree that we would have won the SuperBowl had we beaten Arizona. So we'd have had one more win and edged the NJ VaGiants on division record to take the NFC East and make it into the playoffs, but it's a long road from there.

Not only that but there were a LOT of games we SHOULD have won this year. So I can't pin not making the playoffs on DJax.
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