RICHMOND — DeSean Jackson has been through it before.
Entering the final year of his three-year deal with the Redskins, Jackson can’t help but think about the future. But he’s trying not to make too big a deal about 2017 – yet.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been playing and it’s been a contract year for me so I’m just really keeping it real right here, keeping it real simple,” Jackson said. “I’m just here to work and be rewarded for whatever it is.”
Indeed, Jackson held out of training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 for 11 days. That was the final year of his four-year rookie contract. The Eagles briefly used the franchise tag on Jackson the following March, preventing him from reaching the open market. But the two sides quickly came to an agreement on a five-year contract worth $48.5 million.
The honeymoon didn’t last. Within a year, Chip Kelly had taken over as head coach and – while Jackson put up career numbers in yards and touchdowns – Philadelphia cut him after the season for reasons that at the time were murky. Accusations of gang ties, tantrums behind the scenes and on-field selfishness dogged Jackson. The Eagles pointed to the $6.8 million in salary-cap savings and Jeremy Maclin as a potential No. 1 replacement for less money. Maclin, ironically, himself lasted just one more year with the team.
The Redskins ignored all that drama surrounding Jackson’s surprise release and quickly scooped him for a three-year, $24 million contract. Despite a hiccup with six games missed last season to injury (hamstring), Jackson has 10 touchdowns in 24 games with 26 catches for 20 yards or more and 17 of those topping 40 yards. That big-play ability is what Washington paid for.
Now, on the verge of 30 this Dec. 1, Jackson has a chance for one last big contract. There are no signs yet that the two sides are negotiating an extension – though they can at any time. If March comes and Jackson hasn’t re-signed then he’ll be free to hit the open market.
Other than injury and the desire for some security, there’s limited incentive for Jackson to sign early. The Redskins are exceedingly likely to use their franchise tag again on quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2017 if he has even a decent season this year. Jackson can roll the dice that he will put up big numbers in an offense loaded with weapons and cash in after the season – either in Washington or elsewhere. For now, however, those thoughts can wait.
“Whatever that turns out to be at the end of the year, so be it,” Jackson said. “But this year I’m going to do everything I need to do to be that guy to be there for my teammates, be there for my quarterback, organization. Whatever it is. I’m going to put it on the line for them.”
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