The Eagles announced Thursday that they placed their franchise tag on Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Eagles, in a move widely expected, became the first NFL team this offseason to franchise a player. The deadline for teams to franchise one of their free agents is Monday at 4 p.m.
"We want DeSean to be an Eagle for the long haul and this is a step in the right direction to accomplish that,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement. "DeSean is a talented player and a proven playmaker in this league and we look forward to him continuing his career in Philadelphia. It’s our understanding that he has the same desire. We will continue our efforts on getting a long-term deal done with him."
Jackson, if he signs the one-year tender, will stand to earn $9.4 million next season -- nearly more than three times what he made during his first four seasons in the NFL.
The receiver said just after the season that he would be OK with the franchise designation, but he declined to answer the same question when he was approached at the Super Bowl last month. If Jackson does not immediately sign the tender, the Eagles could decide at some point to pull back the tag. They've done it before -- with Jeremiah Trotter in 2002 and Corey Simon in 2005.
He can sign the tender as soon as he prefers.
Jackson released the following statement:
"I am honored that the Philadelphia Eagles organization perceives me as a franchise player. I look forward to getting a long term deal done soon and being an Eagle for many years to come."
There's also the chance the Eagles and Jackson agree on a contract extension, although the team using the tag suggests that negotiations remain stagnant. The deadline for a player under the franchise tag to get a new contract is July 15.
Before the Eagles tagged Jackson his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was asked about the franchise tag when he spoke to Sirius NFL Radio.
"If a player is franchised, it certainly doesn't mean that you have to play for that franchise tag for that year," Rosenhaus told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt. "You obviously have the opportunity to get a deal done afterwards, before camp starts, you have time to work out a long-term contract.
"If my clients get franchised, believe me we're going to roll up our sleeves and hope that we can convert that into a multi-year deal."
The Eagles could also decide to tag and trade Jackson, although that scenario is unlikely. With a number of attractive free agents on the market receiver-needy teams may not be interested in trading for Jackson, who has some baggage. Interested teams must be prepared to meet the Eagles' asking price -- which would be significant -- and Jackson's contract demands.
ESPN reported last week that the Eagles were willing to listen to offers for Jackson, but a team source said that was not the case.
Jackson's production slipped last year. He admitted at one point during the season that he let his contract situation become a distraction. The 25-year-old held out from the start of training camp as a sort-of protest over the lack of an extension. He was slated to earn approximately $600,000 in base salary in the final year of the four-year contract he signed as a rookie.
At first Jackson did and said all the right things. But as the team struggled he appeared to become disinterested at times. He missed a team meeting before the Cardinals game and coach Andy Reid benched him. Two weeks later, he short armed a few passes against the Patriots and Reid sat him in the fourth quarter.
For the final five games, though, Reid said Jackson was "all-in," and both he and owner Jeffrey Lurie said after the season that they wanted the mercurial receiver to return for a fifth season in Philadelphia.
During his first four seasons with the Eagles Jackson became one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He earned Pro Bowl invitations in 2009 and 2010, the first as both a receiver and a punt returner, the first time that had ever happened.
Still, his size -- a generously listed 5-foot-10, 175 pounds -- and the two concussions he suffered in 2009 and 2010 make signing him to a long-term deal a slight risk. It's unclear how much Jackson and Rosenhaus have sought in contract negotiations and how much the Eagles believe he is worth.
At this point, all signs point to Jackson playing next season under the one-year tag.