Conventional wisdom shows us when a team tags a player, it means the organization wants them to stick around and usually has intentions of working on a long-term deal in the future. This isn’t the case with these two sides.
Philadelphia endured a meager year in 2011 with its explosive wide out, as he became almost entirely non-existent on the field at times, complained openly about his lack of a contract extension and was even slapped with a one-game suspension for missing a team meeting. Following the season, Jackson apologized to the organization and claimed he would happily accept the franchise tag.
Well, he got his wish with the franchise tag, which guarantees him over $9 million in 2012. That doesn’t guarantee his future in Philly, however.
What the Eagles did is quite simple—they tagged a star receiver to keep him on the team, having what I believe to be no actual plans to re-sign him long-term with the original idea being to ship him off to the highest bidder. This means they would be getting something in return. This is of course the flip-side of letting him leave via free agency, in which the team would have received nothing in return.
With that in mind, which NFL teams would be interested in acquiring Jackson’s services via trade?
The Cardinals are fairly solid overall on offense. Chris Beanie Wells crossed the 1,000-yard mark last year and Ryan Williams looks to get much more involved next season.
Andre Roberts and Early Doucet both racked up over 50 catches and 550 yards in 2011 and Larry Fitzgerald is unquestionably one of the best receivers in the game. After finishing 24th in passing and scoring, 19th in total offense and 17th in rushing, there’s still of course room for improvement.
The biggest concerns are at quarterback, where a tight battle looks to unfold between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, the offensive line, as Skelton and Kolb often were forced to run for their lives like Indiana Jones running from the big ball and an explosive receiver that can spread the field for Fitzgerald.
If the Cardinals were to add Jackson to the starting lineup, the organization would be going back to the days of Fitz and Anquan Boldin, or even better. The system carried the Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl, albeit Kurt Warner had a lot to do with it, too. Acquiring D-Jax would provide that threat to pair with Fitz, and it would also bring an infusion of youth to the offense.
Sam Bradford looked like a lost child on the field this last season, as none of his receivers were able to provide any stability or support. Except for maybe Jacksonville, no other team needs a wide receiver more than the Rams. The return of Mark Clayton will help, but a band aid and some neosporin doesn’t exactly heal a gun shot wound.
The issue might actually be compounded by the almost absolute certainty of the team trading down in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins or another team looking to grab Robert Griffin III.
Action-Jackson could flip the script and completely change St. Louis’ offense immediately. His speed would not only open the field for other Rams’ receivers, but he would also become the deep threat the team has been searching for since drafting Bradford.
This by no means would be Jackson’s ideal destination, but ultimately it’s not his decision. The Eagles will send Jackson to whichever team offers them the most bang for their buck, or in other words the best deal, and the Rams are in good position to do so.
Brace yourself—I know, it’s tough to digest. The thought of Jackson playing with the likes of Tom Brady is practically sickening to anyone not under the Patriots’ fan banner. However, it’s a safe assumption that Bill Belichick is mulling over the notion.
The Patriots are retaining Wes Welker, who is a total stud, but beyond him and New England’s dangerous duo of tight ends, there isn’t much to offer out of the receiving talent. Chad Ochocinco was mainly a no-show with the Patriots.
Brady and Jackson would become a tremendous tandem together and could quickly become the best QB-WR combo in the league. Tom Terrific has a way in general of making watered down wide receivers into wine, and the mere thought of what he could do with Jackson is dizzying.
Not to mention that the Patriots have all the picks in the world to trade away, and would definitely have no issue overpaying for a receiver as talented as No. 10.
The blunt truth is that wherever Jackson does land, he will make an immediate impact. Even if his numbers don’t directly reflect how well he performs, his ability to spread the field and create open space can re-design and re-tool an entire offense.
The sad thing for Philadelphia is—despite how talented Jackson is, he will likely only bring in a second-round draft pick, and that may be slightly generous. Regardless of the return, Jackson won’t be doning an Eagles’ uniform in 2012.
Troy Ballard is a Featured Guest Correspondent at Gridiron Grit and the Founder of The Beard and Stache.