To the surprise of some, the Eagles will keep WR DeSean Jackson off the free-agent market, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team instead will sign him with its franchise tag.
"The Eagles are going to franchise DeSean Jackson, count on it," the newspaper reported Monday. Reporter Jeff McLane states that the team will not let Jackson, who will enter his fifth NFL season in 2012, hit the free-agent market. Instead, the Eagles will either franchise and keep him, franchise and trade him or franchise him and then attempt to work out a long-term contract. The franchise tag for receivers this season is approximately $9.5 million.
Jackson's production slipped a bit in 2011, as he caught 58 passes for 961 yards and four TDs. He also gained a career-low 6.7 yards per punt return, and for the first season in his four-year career, he didn't return a punt for a touchdown.
There were also off-field issues for the receiver, as he admitted to being distracted by his contract situation, argued with head coach Andy Reid and was held out of the team's Week 10 loss to the Cardinals after missing a special-teams meeting because he overslept.
The newspaper states that Jackson wants to remain an Eagle, but the team will do what it believes is best long-term. That could mean working out a contract extension, although Jackson's asking price — believed to be in the five-year, $50 million range, per the report — is more than the organization has in mind.