The speculation surrounding the status of DeSean Jackson this offseason refuses to die down. As time goes on, it only seems like more fuel is added to the fire. Here's a complete timeline of what's taken place so far.
DeSean Jackson Speculation Timeline
January 6, 2014
"I definitely feel it's something deserving," Jackson said at his locker in the NovaCare Complex on locker cleanout day. "We'll see how that plays out, and hopefully we can work things out smoothly and not have to worry about anything out of the ordinary.
"But I definitely feel like it's deserving. I'm proven in this league, and after this past year, went out there, no distractions, and just really put it all in for my team and went out there and had a lot of success, so we'll see how it goes."
January 9, 2014
Source: New contract for DeSean Jackson unlikely. Reported by Jeff McLane.
Whether Jackson does or doesn’t want his five-year, $47 million deal restructured, the Eagles are unlikely to rework his contract, a source close to the situation said.
January 11, 2014
(Note: This isn't necessarily related to the speculation... or is it? Either way, weird timing.)
March 1, 2014
The Eagles wrap up a week of in-house moves by re-signing wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. Shortly after, Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com reports:
There's an opinion among some in the Eagles organization that Jackson's personality is not a great fit with the locker room culture that Chip Kelly is trying to cultivate, and the Eagles could be open to trading him.
Howard Eskin replies to a Kempski tweet with the following message (edited for grammar):
Possibly trading DeSean Jackson is not connected to the signings of Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. I hear the team may be at the point [of wanting to trade him] because of his drama.
March 5, 2014
According to multiple sources familiar with the team’s thinking, two incidents haven't gone unnoticed by the front office. First, Jackson lobbied for a new contract less than 48 hours after the team’s first-round playoff loss to the Saints. Then shortly thereafter, police in January reported $250,000 in stolen cash and jewelry along with a handgun from the receiver’s South Philadelphia home during a break-in while Jackson was vacationing.
Later that day, Jeff McLane reports that the DeSean rumors have little weight.
The Eagles are not actively shopping DeSean Jackson, nor do they have any intention of parting with their Pro Bowl wide receiver this offseason. Jackson isn’t close to being cut, and even if he was one misstep away from forcing the Eagles to move him, they most certainly wouldn’t release him without getting something in return. [...] But after talking with almost a dozen sources from around the league, it’s clear the Eagles aren’t interested in dealing the 27-year-old Jackson – not by a long shot.
This was and remains to be the only report denying the speculation. It was not confirmed by any other outlets.
Here's a highly interesting interview with Derrick Gunn on CSN Philly's Philly Sports Talk. I was not aware of this clip's existence until recently.
Here's a complete transcript of what was said.
Barkann: Gunner, you sat down with Jason Avant yesterday and you asked him... did he play peacemaker between DeSean Jackson and [Eagles WR coach] Bob Bicknell?
Gunn: On more than one occassion, yes.Yes. And that problem with that is... DeSean Jackson doesn't really listen to anybody. Jason Avant was probably the only guy who could get his attention. Over the last several years the Eagles have had a number of ex-players try to talk to DeSean. DeSean Jackson does what DeSean Jackson does and I think that's eventually going to be his downfall. Not just with the Philadelphia Eagles, but in the NFL because the word is out on him. The word is out across the league on DeSean Jackson: "We don't know if he's the kind of guy we want in our locker room. We don't care how talented he is."
March 6, 2014
"Well it’s funny because what I did last night when I got home is, I played the ‘one false step away’ game with my wife. So I said, ‘what am I one false step away from?’ and she said, certainly kicked to the curb," Roseman told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team on Thursday. "I’m one false step away from getting hit by a bus. I don’t know where that report came from. Obviously everything that we’re doing we’re going to do in the best interest of the Eagles. Don’t want to get into every rumor and kind of go through each player one by one, but certainly there was nothing there from anyone in this building that that report came from."
March 13, 2014
Paul Domowitch writes a column about the Eagles' trade options when it comes to acquiring more 2014 NFL draft picks. He ends the column with this curious line:
After re-signing Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and now adding a unique weapon like Sproles, who caught 71 passes last season and had seven touchdown catches in two of the last three seasons, and a draft coming up that includes one of the best and deepest wide-receiving classes in recent history, might the Eagles be willing to trade Jackson for more picks? Believe me when I tell you it’s been talked about on the second floor of NovaCare.
Kempski replies to Domowitch's article with the following message:
It's been discussed on every other floor too.
March 15, 2014
Reuben Frank takes notice of Kelly's question-dodging as well.
At the Maxwell Club presser Friday in Atlantic City, N.J., Chip Kelly was given every opportunity to affirm DeSean Jackson as a big part of the Eagles’ plans moving forward, but he ducked the question about Jackson’s future with a joke (see video). That’s a common Kelly device -- ducking questions he doesn’t want to answer with jokes. Not sure it means the Eagles are disenchanted enough with Jackson to move him, but he could have said, "Come on, DeSean’s our guy, he’s not going anywhere," and ended the speculation. And he opted not to.
March 16, 2014
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke to the media for the first time since the season ended at the Maxwell Football Club awards. Kelly was specifically asked about Jackson and sidestepped the question entirely.
[Chip Kelly] sidestepped a question about speculation that DeSean Jackson could be moved, joking that he'll determine the importance of Jackson among the Eagles' receivers by how reporters predict they will be prioritized.
"He's a priority at wide receiver before Maclin, behind Cooper, or is it Cooper before Maclin, or Maclin before Cooper?" Kelly said. "I'll check what you write and tell you how I feel about it."
Kempski offered his own take on Kelly's answer:
I'll just add in a bit of my own commentary here. The reporter who asked the DeSean Jackson question was the Inquirer's Jeff McLane, who had previously reported that Jeremy Maclin was a priority over Riley Cooper when the two players were still unsigned by the team. The Eagles ended up signing Cooper first, but that doesn't mean that McLane was wrong. The Eagles could have certainly valued Maclin more, but were just able to get a deal done more quickly with Cooper. Kelly took the opportunity to needle Jeff a little, and in the process, say absolutely nothing about Jackson. It was really a brilliant answer.
The Eagles have had plenty of opportunities to simply say, "DeSean Jackson is an Eagle and will remain an Eagle, end of story."
But they haven't.
March 17, 2014
Tim McManus of Birds 24/7 comes out with an interesting post titled "DeSean Remains in the Dark". McManus notes that Jackson is aware of all the speculation that has taken place:
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Jackson is unsure about his standing on the team and troubled by what is being written about him. He has reached out to some of his teammates to express his concern. One of Jackson’s top confidants says that the whole situation has become "a bit of a distraction."
Adding to the confusion/strain is the fact that the Eagles had yet to contact Jackson as of Saturday to offer assurance. This seems a little peculiar, particularly since Chip Kelly has been very careful about making sure his players know where they stand with him. For instance, he spoke with every key veteran on the roster during the draft last April immediately after picking someone at their position.
McManus goes on to say that Jackson wants to return to the team. But it seems unclear if the Eagles feel the same way:
Given his level of production and Kelly's love for offensive weapons, you would think he would be. But the rumblings persist. We asked one agent that has established credibility with us if he had heard anything regarding Jackson, and he responded: "Yes. Heard there is no way [DeSean Jackson] is back [with the Eagles.]" He isn't looped directly into the situation and isn't to be looked at as a source, but it shows that the rumors are not confined to the internet. They exist in some league circles. They have reached Jackson and have been relayed to some of his teammates. They are beginning to have an impact.
• A common occurrence regarding the Jackson speculation: non-denial and sidestepped questions.
• It bothers me to hear people say this Jackson speculation is completely unsubstantiated and just a fictitious non-story created by the media. The people included in this timeline are reputable reporters with trustworthy information. Jimmy Kempski used to write for BGN so some of you already are well familiar with him. When has he been one to make something up? Tim McManus is one of the best reporters in the Philly beat. His sources have never been known to steer people wrong. Why would he start now? It doesn't seem Geoff Mosher would go on PFT Live and say something so incendiary without knowing information to back it up. I understand why people want to blame the media in this case: they don't want these rumors to be true. Jackson is a fan favorite and a great player. But just because it's not what people want to hear doesn't mean it can't be true.
• I've also seen plenty of people suggest that the reason the Eagles haven't shut down the speculation is because they don't respond to rumors. That's generally not untrue. But in this case, what do the Eagles have to benefit from letting the rumors linger? Based on what McManus had to say, it seems like the speculation isn't very comforting to Jackson. A firm denial from the Eagles would leave Jackson feeling more secure and less alienated about his future with the team. But clearly that's not what has taken place. And why is that?
• I've noted a number of times that the Jackson speculation doesn't make very much sense. He's coming off a great year and is still only 27. He seems like a perfect fit in Kelly's offense. No one is denying any of this. But just because it doesn't make sense on the surface doesn't mean it's not possible. The problem is that this Jackson situation is more complicated than anyone knows. What I'm trying to say is that there could be matters that exist behind the scenes that no one is privy to. That's what makes all of this speculation so difficult to deal with. It really seems like there's more to all of this than anyone knows or is putting on.
Look, you can choose to believe whatever you want. I've already stated my thoughts here, but the timeline itself is a completely objective study. To me, it seems like there's just too much noise regarding this speculation for it to be completely made up.
I don't say any of this because I want Jackson gone. It's just the opposite: given what I know, I think the Eagles should absolutely keep Jackson. But I'm not going to let what I think should happen get in the way of what I think will or could happen.
Unless a strong denial surfaces, I think it's time to accept there's at least a possibility that DeSean Jackson might not be back with the Eagles in 2014.