When his team has needed him most, WR DeSean Jackson has let the Eagles down. The free-agent-to-be wide receiver has been clear about his mission to get paid in a big way, bigger than the $600,000 he currently makes. It was the reason Jackson missed the early part of training camp, his way of sending a message to management that he was not happy watching a slew of outside players cashing in.
Sources told PFW earlier in the season that Andy Reid and other key Eagles higher-ups each approached Jackson at various times with similar messages: play well this season and Jackson would be happy. Instead, he has done the opposite. He has detached himself from his team, both coaches and players, and given a half-hearted effort at times on the field.
It was on display the past two games in the Eagles' blowout loss at home to the Patriots, in which Jackson was benched in the fourth quarter for dropping two would-be touchdowns, and in the road loss at Seattle, in which he appeared apathetic at times as his team was getting its doors blown off. While Vince Young was throwing a block for LeSean McCoy on the running back's field-reversing run and still competing with the Eagles trailing, it appeared Jackson had mentally checked out.
There's no way to know that for sure, of course, and Eagles officials were quick to shut down an NFL Network in-game report that Jackson refused to speak with his teammates during the game. But what was clear to the naked eye was that Jackson clearly was laughing with Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch nearby when Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha was down on the ground after appearing to injure his neck and head seriously.
The Eagles' talent does not match their desire. Jackson is part of that problem. He's their offensive X-factor. He makes Michael Vick go and clears lanes for McCoy. The Eagles are in a brutal situation: On the one hand, they can't reward a player whose effort and play have been badly subpar at the most critical time, but on the other they have no one on the team who can do what Jackson does.
The Eagles can franchise Jackson and hope he gets back on the same page as the coaches and other players. They can trade him when his value is diminished and get rid of a perceived cancer. They can give him the long-term deal he desires, but what do you pay someone who is neither a leader nor a trusted component? The Eagles have a monster decision on their hands.