He does the most exasperating things sometimes. That is the rub with DeSean Jackson. He can be peerlessly brilliant one minute and maddeningly irresponsible and immature the next.
That is part of the reason the Eagles haven't made it rain for Jackson. He has not forced their hand. Jackson's antics -- showboating and now taunting being the prime offenses – make it far from a no-brainer for the Eagles to give him a ton of cash. His size, fragility and concussion history are undoubtedly parts of the equation as well.
The Eagles can use the franchise tag on Jackson after this season, but a long-term contract with a fat signing bonus commensurate with other top receivers in the league? That probably will not happen anytime soon.
There is no doubt that Jackson is worth a lot more than the relatively paltry $500,000 he is making this season. It is ridiculous that Philadelphia's long snapper, a pleasant guy named Jon Dorenbos, is making more. But in a risk-reward analysis, the Eagles clearly have decided that, at this point, the reward he gives them on the field doesn't justify the risk of flooding Jackson's bank account.
Jackson is simply too volatile.
Just look at what he did against the New York Giants on Sunday night. Jackson caught a 50-yard pass, his second long reception of the game, in the second quarter in front of the Giants' sideline. He promptly flipped the ball toward New York defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, and while staring at Fewell brushed both hands down his front and then pounded his fist on his chest again and again and again.
The yellow flags went flying, and Jackson was penalized for taunting. Because the Giants also committed a penalty on the play, Jackson's gain was wiped out and the down replayed, with the Eagles backed up to their 2-yard line.
It was an unnecessary, disrespectful show by a player who has torched the Giants in the past, and I wouldn't have blamed Eagles coach Andy Reid if he had benched Jackson for the remainder of the game. Reid had enough evidence to tell Jackson to stay home from the stadium the week before against Arizona. The reason the Eagles gave for Jackson's suspension was that he missed a special teams meeting the day before the game, but given Jackson's unhappiness with his contract situation, there may have been more to it.
Reid didn't sit Jackson against the Giants. The Eagles' drive went nowhere, and after the Giants stalled, Jackson took a punt 51 yards to the New York 14-yard line in a near replay of last season, when Jackson beat the Giants on a last-second return for a touchdown.
The two sides of Jackson -- infuriating and amazing -- were there for all to see within a couple of minutes.
Jackson's punt return led to a touchdown, giving the desperate Eagles a 10-0 lead. They won the game, 17-10.
Obviously trying to defuse the situation, Reid made light of the taunting penalty after the game. He expanded on it during his weekly Monday press conference.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I was happy about a penalty," Reid said. "I wasn't happy about that. The thing I appreciated was he came out with that attitude we all love as far as loving to play the game, and he was fired up and ready to go, and that part I did appreciate."
The other part? Not so much.
If the Eagles truly appreciated Jackson, they would have paid him already. He is an integral part of the team, its most dynamic playmaker. As the Giants know all too well, he is capable of changing the tenor of a game with one touch of the ball.
The Eagles spent the better part of August throwing money at players. They gave Nnamdi Asomugha $60 million, Cullen Jenkins $25 million, Jason Babin $28 million and Vince Young $4 million. Jackson held out of the first part of training camp in protest, but he reported and performed and waited. He is still waiting.
I have been around Jackson since he arrived at the Eagles' training facility in South Philadelphia in 2008. He has always been polite, thoughtful, colorful, unapologetic, passionate about his desire to win and confident to the point of defiant. He led the faction of Eagles that wanted Kevin Kolb to replace Donovan McNabb as quarterback, and seamlessly pivoted to Michael Vick last season when Kolb got concussed and Vick got his chance.
After his father died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, Jackson created a foundation to help raise money and awareness for the disease. He has been outspoken against bullying since traveling to New York earlier this year to surprise a Philadelphia-area boy who had been bullied and was appearing on "The View." The boy, Nadim Khoury, idolized Jackson, and Jackson showed up to support him, literally giving him the jersey off his back. The two still speak regularly.
That's the good Jackson.
The bad Jackson missed scoring his first career touchdown against Dallas his rookie year because, thinking he had crossed the goal line when in fact he hadn't, he dropped the ball and started celebrating. In similar fashion last season against the Giants, the bad Jackson ran almost the length of the goal line before scoring on his stunning punt return.
For two years, Jackson has tended to say the right things about his contract situation, even though it clearly has bothered him and, as a result, affected his play and his team's success. An organization that has a history of re-signing its talented young players before their rookie contracts expire has not locked up Jackson, which tells me this: Either his asking price is too high, or the Eagles aren't willing to pay for good Jackson when bad Jackson is inextricably part of the deal.
Ashley Fox covers the NFL for ESPN.com.