I still think there's an excellent chance DeSean Jackson plays under the franchise tag this season, because I'm not sure about the Eagles' level of commitment after the way DJax played in 2011.
BUT, the Bills' Stevie Johnson agreed to a five-year, $36.25 million deal, $19.5 guaranteed, today, according to ESPN.com. There will be other top wideout deals done, once free agency arrives March 13. I'm thinking that by April or May, there ought to be the basis for a solid, fair DeSean deal. Last year, the Eagles didn't think Larry Fitzgerald's reported eight-year, $120 million contract, with a $50 million guarantee, provided much of a benchmark, given that you'd have to duct tape about three DeSeans together to get a Larry Fitzgerald. DeSean might be more of a Santonio Holmes, but that five-year deal last year at $10 mil per, with $24 million in guaranteed money, was widely decried by management types across the league. The Jets were ridiculed when Holmes became a huge locker room problem and their season went down in flames. The Eagles try real had not to put themselves in those situations.
So more comparables were needed, to convince Eagles management and agent Drew Rosenhaus where the market really is. Maybe we're on the way to knowing that -- if knowing the market really is the issue, for either side.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have hammered out a $31 million, four-year deal with running back Marshawn Lynch, $18 mil guaranteed, according to ESPN.com. Does this start to set the value for the Shady McCoy deal that really ought to get done this offseason? I think so. Despite some firings and rehirings, Shady is a Rosenhaus client, as well. There have been some ticklish moments over the fact that the Eagles were much more eager to discuss a McCoy deal than a Jackson deal last season. The franchising of DeSean ought to calm that ruckus a bit. Rosenhaus ought to be able to hammer out something for Shady, whether DeSean gets done longterm or not.
Arian Foster of Houston also has a new deal, 5 year, $43.5 mil, again according to ESPN.com. Guarantee of $20.75 million. Little richer neighborhood. I think that's a real different offense and a different role than McCoy and the West Coast.
Really fascinated by the fallout from bountygate down in New Orleans. Yeah, Buddy Ryan once was accused of offering bounties. Different times. That was back when a defensive back could maim a receiver and a concussion was a "bell-ringing." Back when Andre Waters was alive and well.
Some people think this is worse than the Patriots' "Spygate," because nobody got injured by illegal taping. True. On the other hand, the "bounty" hits were all out on the field; if the NFL saw anything in the Saints' play that needed to be dealt with, it was free to deal with it, whether it knew about the bounties or not. The Patriots undermined the integrity of the game in a more secretive, insidious way. Tomato, tomahto. Not a debate that really gets us anywhere.
There are two reasons why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will slap the Saints and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hard. One is that he should. Trying to injure opponents is morally wrong and incredibly counterproductive; you have to figure that anything you do to another team's star can just as easily be done to your team's top talent. And that's before we even get into the backdrop of the concussion morass.
But there is another reason why Goodell will lay down the law on this. To figure it out, all you had to do was read the Tweets, when the news broke, from some of the top journalists covering the league, especially the ones based in New York. They were convinced the apocalypse was nigh. This was an outrage!
I don't know Goodell well. There is one opinion I developed during the lockout, that I expect to see borne out here -- this is a guy who cares very much that he be SEEN as the man laying down the law. He is a Senator's son who has those instincts, and possibly those ambitions. If, say, The New York Times thinks this is a grave matter, then by gosh, it is a GRAVE MATTER. Goodell will hold a press conference, set his jaw, and speak in those clipped cadences that always remind me of the mayor of Springfield.
If I had to guess, I'd say 75 percent of the penalty will be what is deserved, and the other 25 percent will be just to guard against anybody saying the commish was easy on the evildoers.
I dunno what the Eagles are going to do in free agency next week. I know Ike Reese wants them to go after that Falcons linebacker, Curtis Lofton, who so far has not been franchised, as the clock ticks toeward the 4 p.m. deadline. I defer to Ike on linebackers.
I think Lofton is an upgrade on what the Eagles have. From what I read, he still might not be a three-down guy, like Luke Kuechly might be if the Birds could draft him. I would try to sign Lofton and then, if Kuechly is available at 15th overall, the more the merrier. I would not expend anything real valuable to trade up to draft Kuechly, if a difference-making defensive tackle (Fletcher Cox?) or a top-grade wideout (Michael Floyd?) figured to be there at 15.
I know lots of people want the Eagles to go after the Lions' Stephen Tulloch, because he has played a lot behind the wide 9. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just haven't seen him do anything all that great in all his playing behind the wide 9.