Since his arrival in Philadelphia via the second round of the 2008 draft, DeSean Jackson has electrified fans and opposing defenses alike with his unparalleled speed and slippery moves. However, over the past few weeks, the young receiver seems to be in a bit of an unfortunate slump. Against the Giants and Bears, Jackson only caught a total of seven passes for 76 yards and had two crucial dropped touchdowns. By contrast, over those same two games, second year receiver Jeremy Maclin caught a total of thirteen passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.
In addition, there was the nationally-publicized tongue lashing that Jackson received at the hands of Andy Reid after the team's 26-31 loss to Chicago. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the problem began when Jackson exhibited a lackadaisical attitude during pregame warm-ups and refused to handle punt returns. As we saw in the game, he was largely ineffective on three of the four punts (two fair catches and a one yard return), but did have a season-high 35 yard return. The key word in that last sentence? SEASON HIGH. Last season, Jackson averaged 15.2 yards per return and had two touchdowns - enough to earn him a Pro Bowl berth as a punt returner. His longest return was an incredible 85 yards. This year, Jackson is averaging a scant 9.3 yards per return with no TDs. Slump, indeed.
So what could be the cause of this sudden decrease in productivity?
Well, for one, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer reports that Jackson has "become increasingly disinterested with punt returns" and "has stated that [they] can tire him out." Jackson is also still recovering from a severe concussion suffered at that hands of the Falcons' Dunta Robinson, but he had two dud games in the weeks leading up to the Atlanta game. No, the root cause is something that has likely been eating at Jackson since his first stunning year in an Eagle uniform: his contract.
Jackson is currently in the third year of his four-year $3.058 million contract, which means that this year, he is earning a scant $805,000 ($470,000 + $335,000 roster bonus). Compare that to the Cowboys' Roy Williams, who will be making a tidy sum of $5,109,971 this year, and you can understand the frustration. Compounding things is Jackson's agent, the notorious Drew Rosenhaus, who has been reportedly texting him throughout the workday, stressing the importance of padding his stats to improve contract negotiations. With his mind constantly on the status of his unsatisfying contract, it's no wonder Jackson's performance on the field has suffered.
The Eagles have one year left on the young receiver's contract, which they can choose to keep and drag out the proceedings for another season. However, before Jackson's mental unrest spills over onto the rest of the team, it would be wise for the front office to address the situation head on. Jackson has made it clear that he wants to remain in Philadelphia as an Eagle, but if his performance and attitude continue to decline, things could spiral out of control. What do you think the Eagles should do?