Multiple reports, including this one from Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, have surfaced this afternoon saying Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson plans to end his holdout and report to training camp Monday. This qualifies as good news for the Eagles, who have been practicing without Jackson and their other top wideout, Jeremy Maclin, who is recovering from an undisclosed illness.
Jackson is looking for a contract extension and is not satisfied with the approximately $600,000 salary he is scheduled to make in 2011. But the Eagles have made it clear that they would not renegotiate a contract while Jackson was not in camp, per team policy. If he shows up Monday, that could be significant, since the team is off Tuesday and he might not have to practice until Wednesday. The reason Jackson doesn't want to go to camp without a new deal is concern that he could hurt himself in practice and jeopardize his chances at ever getting the new deal. If he shows up Monday, he could take a physical, meet with coaches and watch from the sidelines while the team and his agent spend Monday and Tuesday negotiating a new deal. That way, the Eagles haven't violated their policy about not negotiating with holdouts and Jackson hasn't put himself at risk of injury.
Everyone on both sides seems to agree that Jackson is underpaid and has outperformed his current deal. Had there not been a lockout, this situation may well have been resolved in May or June. Remember, it's only been 11 days since the league re-opened for business and teams were allowed to talk contract with players, and the Eagles have spent most of that time wooing and signing outside free agents. But they remain under the cap -- especially if they also do a long-term deal for quarterback Michael Vick that reduces Vick's 2011 cap figure -- and they have money with which to pay Jackson. They just haven't had time to focus on it until now.
What remains to be seen, of course, is what form the new deal will take. Some have suggested that Jackson would seek something similar to the five-year, $50 million contract free-agent receiver Santonio Holmes signed with the Jets last week. But that's been outside speculation, since Jackson's camp has remained silent throughout this process. It's hard to justify giving Jackson the same deal Holmes got, if only because Holmes was a free agent and there are no other teams bidding for Jackson. And the Eagles have legitimate concerns about Jackson's size, durability and the wisdom of giving No. 1 receiver money to a guy who caught 47 passes last year.
But in the end, the Eagles need Jackson for the Super Bowl run they're loading up to make. Concerns over his future health and productivity will have to take a back seat to the fact that his present skills as a receiver and punt returner are irreplaceable if they truly intend to win it all this year. Add in whatever concerns they may have over this mysterious illness of Maclin's, and signing Jackson has become a necessity. All they needed, apparently, was for him to actually show up. Assuming that does happen Monday, don't expect a new contract to be far behind.