When Tennessee running back Chris Johnson and Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson skipped voluntary workouts with their respective teams this spring there was a tendency to draw parallels between the two Pro Bowlers.
Both had become, in two seasons, offensive stars, and both had become dissatisfied with the contracts they had signed as rookies.
But in reality, their situations are much different.
Johnson publicly stated that he wanted a restructured deal and that he was prepared to hold out of training camp until he was paid a minimum of $30 million guaranteed. Jackson hasn't asked for a new contract and, according to coach Andy Reid, will arrive when Eagles veterans are scheduled to report to camp on July 29.
Johnson also signed a five-year deal when he was selected in the first round of the 2008 as opposed to Jackson who inked a four-year, $3 million deal after he was picked a round later. And for all of Jackson's accomplishments the past two years, his impact wasn't as great as Johnson's, who last season became only the sixth running back to rush for over 2,000 yards.
So when Johnson reportedly agreed to a revised contract Monday there might have been reason to think that a new deal for Jackson was in the offing. That is unlikely, according to a league source familiar with how the Eagles negotiate contracts.
Johnson did not get anywhere near the $30 million he originally stated he wanted. His 2010 salary, consequently, will be bumped up from $500,000 to $2.5 million. But the new deal gives Johnson no additional money and only moves up some of the money he was set to earn in the fifth year of his contract.
Jackson, meanwhile, signed for one less year than Johnson, and thus, does not have a fifth year, the only year in a rookie contract in which a player can make more than the minimum. He may not have the fifth year and he may not have the large signing bonus Johnson got for being a first-round pick, but he does have a shorter path to free agency.
And once you're a good player -- and Jackson obviously is -- the most valuable thing you can have, according to the league source, is a shorter path to free agency. And considering the new rule in the labor agreement which restricts pay increases for players still playing in their rookie contracts to 30 percent, it is within Jackson's best interest to wait another year before asking for a restructured deal.
Jackson is slated to make a little over $800,000 this season.