Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson has 13 games remaining until he becomes an unrestricted free agent, barring the inevitable placement of the franchise tag on him by the team.
So what’s his motivation? To stay sufficiently healthy now to get paid later.
“Whether I have the ball in my hands or not, I feel like I already established myself in this league as one of the great receivers,” Jackson said Thursday, via PhillySportsDaily.com. “I just gotta go out there and keep doing what I can do. Stay healthy is the biggest thing. As long as I can stay healthy, regardless of where I’m playing, I think I’ll be all right. Just stay healthy and go out there and do my thing.”
Um, what about winning games?
“That’s the No. 1 priority is to stay healthy,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t be able to play the game if I wasn’t healthy. In my book, that’s the No. 1 priority. Winning is next in that category. As long as I’m healthy and we’re winning, regardless of my numbers, I think I’ll be very happy.”
Jackson has only 10 catches for 153 yards this season, and only 51 yards in the past two games combined. Though the manner in which he chased down and tackled Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards in Week Two indicates that Jackson isn’t obsessed with protecting his body while on the field, the fact that he’s putting his health above all else comes as no surprise.
He’ll never get the big contract he has earned if he doesn’t stay healthy. That’s one of the main reasons to want a new deal; he bears the risk of injury unless and until that contract is signed.
If/when the Eagles use the franchise tag in 2012, Jackson’s pay will shoot up significantly from $600,000. But he’ll continue to shoulder the injury risk as he chases a life-altering payday.