DeSean Jackson said he remained optimistic that he and the Eagles would agree on a contract extension sometime before the end of the season.
The wide receiver has made it no secret that he wants a new deal. Jackson skipped the first 11 days of training camp in a holdout but has said all the right things publicly even though he is still on track to earn a base salary of approximately $600,000 this season - a figure many consider below the two-time Pro Bowl player's value.
"Sometimes it does get hard, but I think it will be worked out; it'll be good," Jackson said Thursday. "Without trying to say too much, I think things will work out good here. We're after the bye week now, so there's a lot more time for things to get done."
The Eagles have often extended some of their young players during November. There have been indications from sources close to Jackson that negotiations between the team and Jackson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have picked up.
Jackson is believed to want a deal similar to the five-year, $45 million contract New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes received in July. Holmes is guaranteed $24 million.
If the two sides can't agree on a deal by February, the Eagles could choose to place the franchise tag on Jackson. The receiver would make somewhere around $10 million under the tag if he remained with the team.
Jackson is on pace to set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. Through six games he has 24 catches for 456 yards and is averaging 19 yards a catch. He has two touchdowns but hasn't produced one of his trademark highlight-reel scores that were commonplace during his first three seasons.
"I can't really put my finger on it when I'm going to break a big one or one of those crazy plays are going to happen," Jackson said.
Eagles special-teams coordinator Bobby April said he has been pleased by Jackson's professionalism, even though the part-time punt returner is averaging only 6.4 yards a return.
"I think he's grown a little bit," April said. "And I'm not comparing it to a negative. I'm just saying he's elevated his professionalism."
While their situations are different, Jackson has chosen to handle the business side of football differently than Asante Samuel. The cornerback, upset that his name has been mentioned in trade rumors, blasted the Eagles' front office Wednesday.
While Jackson said that he understood where Samuel was coming from, the receiver said "the best thing possible is to keep everything in-house. If you have a problem here go tell it to the person."
Concern about Samuel?
In light of Samuel's outburst, Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was asked if he had to talk to the cornerback about channeling his energy onto the field.
"He's a competitor, man. He's going to do that," Castillo said. "I think he uses different things to motivate him."
Samuel's 37 interceptions are the most in the NFL since 2006. But through six games this season the four-time Pro Bowl corner has only one pick and has looked timid in Castillo's new defensive scheme.
He prefers to play off receivers in an attempt to bait quarterbacks into errant throws. Castillo was asked if Samuel's style was better suited to a defense that blitzes more. The Eagles are second in the league in sacks per pass play, but their nine forced turnovers are tied for 16th overall.
"When you look at those 18 sacks, it's easy to say, 'You know what, that's 18 sacks by the D-linemen,' " Castillo said. "But I'm going to tell you right now, that's 18 sacks with also the secondary."
Despite Dion Lewis' kick-return average of 21.1 yards, 27th best in the league, April said that the Eagles don't "have anybody that's a better returner than" the rookie. Running back Ronnie Brown was mentioned as a possible returner during the preseason, but it's not something he has done much in his career. . . . Every eligible player was a full participant in Thursday's practice. The Eagles still have to decide whether to activate defensive end Brandon Graham for Sunday's game, although it appears unlikely.
Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.