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Free Agency Round-up: Quick Thoughts on DeSean’s Extension

Mar 15, 2012, 2:09 PM EDT

How good or bad was DeSean Jackson's contract really? And other free agency news.

1. Only $15 million guaranteed.

Was a long-term deal the right way to go with DeSean Jackson? There are a lot of questions out there right now, about his performance, about his durability, about his attitude. The franchise tag seemed like the safe way to go, because even though it was a ton of cash, it was only for one year.

Naturally, folks tend to focus on the five years and $51 million part, but the general consensus in the media is this was a safe contract for DJacc. Just $15 million of the sum is fully guaranteed, most of that over the next two seasons. That means if Jackson becomes a problem in the locker room, or his ability falls off a cliff, the Eagles can still get away after a couple years.

When you look at it like that, Jackson has all the incentive in the world to produce at a high level, and be a model teammate. If the Eagles have to remove him, he will never even see 50% of that money, nor another contract like it ever again.

2. The market was set.

Say what you want about it being too much money, but the market says otherwise. Vincent Jackson, whose best season is not significantly better than DeSean’s, took five years, $55 million off the Bucs — $26 guaranteed. Pierre Garcon, the poor man’s version of DeSean, received five years, $42.5 million from the Redskins — $20.5 guaranteed. Marques Colston, the man of 1,004 knee surgeries, will earn $40 mil over the next five — $19 guaranteed.

Even receivers with far lesser deals received similar or more bonus money. Stevie Johnson: $19.5 guaranteed. Laurent Robinson: $14. Robert Meachem: $14.

Say what you will about those players. Some of them you might take over DeSean, others still have to prove it. You can’t look at Jackson’s accolades over his four-year NFL career and say he doesn’t deserve to be paid like these players though.

3. Frees up over $6 million in cap space.

Remember when we said the Eagles should dump Asante Samuel fast to create some breathing room? Forget it.

Jackson’s new deal carries a paltry $3 million cap hit in 2012, $6.6 million less than it would have been had he signed the franchise tender. Take into consideration the additional $6 million the team saved by removing Winston Justice and Jamaal Jackson, and suddenly they are playing with a lot of money.

Which hasn’t amounted to much in free agency, yet. Evan Mathis remains on the market, as do a bunch of quality middle linebackers. The front office is also said to be in negotiations with LeSean McCoy.

It sure seems like they are gearing up for something.

- Speaking of Mathis, he traveled to Baltimore last night to visit the Ravens. It seems Carl Nicks leaving New Orleans for Tampa Bay has caused a ripple effect at guard. Baltimore’s Ben Grubbs joined the Saints, and now Philly’s Mathis could wind up replacing him. Problem is, there aren’t really any great options for replacing Mathis.

It’s too early to panic. If Mathis was genuine about wanting to return, he should give the Birds a chance to match whatever offers come his way. But as the old free agency adage goes, once you get ‘em in the building, don’t let ‘em leave — and Mathis is in their building.

- The other big five-year, $50 million signing for Eagles fans happened 1,500 miles away in Arlington, where the Dallas Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr away from the Chiefs. Dallas parted ways with long-time corner Terence Newman to make room for Carr, a 26 year old who is solid, but not a star or anything.

The Cowboys, who were a little desperate for secondary help, also added safety Brodney Pool, a player we hoped the Eagles might target for depth.

- The Giants fired the first shot of 2012 against one of their NFC East rivals. New York agreed to a one-year deal with Cowboys’ backup tight end Martellus Bennett, though he figures to be much more than that for the G-men. Jake Ballard tore his ACL in the Super Bowl, which makes Bennett the front-runner to start. He has 85 catches for 846 yards and four TD’s in a four-year career.

- Dimitri Patterson sighting: the Browns re-signed Patterson to a three-year deal after spending last season as their nickel corner. You may recall Patterson spent half a season in the Birds’ starting lineup, to mostly disastrous results.

- Breaking update: the Redskins continue to slap together a makeshift roster in the wake of their devastating cap penalty, this time adding safety Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather, who was thought to be an Eagles’ draft target back in ’07, has gone from Pro Bowler to pin-balling around the league in one astonishing year.