ORLANDO -- DeSean Jackson probably is going to have to wait a while to get the big-money contract extension he is craving.
The new rules in play for the final uncapped year of the league’s collective bargaining agreement make it extremely difficult to do extensions, particularly for players with low base salaries who are looking for huge raises, such as Jackson and Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.
Jackson clearly deserves a substantial raise. He went to the Pro Bowl last season and has established himself as one of the league’s most dangerous big-play performers. He average 18.5 yards per catch last season, led the league in punt return average (15.2) and scored 12 touchdowns, including 8 of 50 yards or more.
Under the terms of the CBA, base salaries are limited to 30 percent increases per year. Jackson, who signed a four-year, $3.47 million contract with the Eagles in ‘08 when he was the 49th overall pick in the draft, received a base salary of just $385,000 last year (he also got a $391,000 roster bonus). Even with maximum 30 percent increases, it would take four years to get his base salary up over $1 million.
Signing bonuses are exempt from the 30 percent restriction, which means the Eagles could theoretically solve the problem by giving him an enormous signing bonus. But teams are reluctant to do that because of the language in the CBA restricting forfeiture of signing bonuses if a player gets into Michael Vick-like or Plaxico Burress-like trouble.
According to the CBA, signing bonus forfeitures are limited to cases of holdouts or retirement. It further limits any forfeiture to 25 percent of the total. Last year, NFL special master Stephen Burbank, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, ruled in the Burress case that a player can violate behavior clauses in his contract and still be paid bonus money.
Jackson, who is scheduled to get $805,000 in salary and bonuses this year ($470,000 base and $335,000 roster bonus), dumped his original agent, Adam Heller of DeBartolo Sports, late last year and replaced him with Drew Rosenhaus because he thought Rosenhaus could get him a contract extension.
``It would be great (to get a new deal),’’ Jackson said in a January interview with WPEN-FM (97.5). ``I’m just going to train hard and work hard and enjoy myself right now. I’ll let Drew be the aggressive one and I’ll just sit back and handle what I can do.’’ Asked by reporters at the Pro Bowl whether he expected a new deal before next season, Jackson said, ``Hopefully, it would be nice. I’m shooting for the top.’’
Rosenhaus, who represents more than 150 NFL players, was seen slithering through the Ritz-Carlton resort lobby earlier today, where the NFL owners are meeting. He had a brief chat with Eagles president Joe Banner. Asked about his quest for an extension for Jackson, Rosenhaus said, ``I’m not going to talk about DeSean and his contract.’’ Banner also declined comment on the subject of an extension for the wide receiver.
A league executive who is familiar with Jackson’s contract situation, said it will be ``impossible’’ for him to get a fair extension under the current restrictions.
``It’s possible with some guys if they had a reasonable Paragraph 5 salary last year that you could work off of that and increase it by 30 percent (each year) and get to an OK number and then put the rest in a signing bonus,’’ he said. ``It’s not that hard.
``But the guys you can’t really do anything for are guys like DeSean or (Titans running back) Chris Johnson, who have these low or minimum Paragraph 5 salaries. Almost anybody who wasn’t drafted in the first round is going to have too low a Paragraph 5 to be able to do one (an extension).’’
Johnson was a first-round pick. He was the 24th selection in the ’08 draft and signed a five-year, $9.226 million deal. But much of his money came in first- and second-year bonuses. He received $1.125 million in bonuses his rookie year and got a $3.86 million roster bonus last year. His base salary last year was the same as Jackson’s -- $385,000. The guy rushed for 2,006 yards last season and will make just $550,000 this year.
``There’s really no loophole around (the 30 percent rule),’’ the league executive said. ``The only thing you can use is the signing bonus. But you’ve got to still maintain some reasonable percentage of a deal. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself out there naked. If the guy does something stupid down the line like Vick or Burress, you’re screwed.’’
For more Jackson, pick up tomorrow's Daily News.
The Eagles recieved two compensatory picks in this year's draft for free agent losses before last season. The Eagles now have eight draft picks.
While they lost Brian Dawkins and Correll Buckhalter, who both played well for the Broncos, they got good production from at least one of their free agents, fullback Leonard Weaver.
The Eagles have their own picks in rounds 1-4 and have an extra pick in round 3 (from Seattle in 2009 trade) and round 6 (from Indianapolis in 2009 trade). Their 6th and 7th round draft picks were traded to Buffalo and New England, respectively. A 5th round pick acquired from New Orleans in a 2009 trade was sent to St. Louis in exchange for LB Will Witherspoon. A 4th round pick acquired from NY Jets for CB Lito Sheppard was sent to Seattle in exchange for DE Darryl Tapp.
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