DeSean Jackson never wanted to leave in the first place.
And now he’s back.
The first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period was a busy one for the Birds, who reportedly traded for Jackson, added a different Jackson, and saw Nick Foles agree to a four-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
They also announced a new deal for Jason Peters.
Monday marked the start of the period before the beginning of the new league year in which teams are permitted to negotiate with potential free agents. Players with expiring contracts can’t sign with a new team, however, until Wednesday at 4 p.m., when trades can become official as well.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garofolo reported Monday evening that the Eagles and Buccaneers worked out a trade to bring Jackson back to Philadelphia, five years after the team released him at the peak of his career. According to ESPN, the Eagles will send a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to Tampa and also receive a seventh-rounder in 2020.
Jackson was slated to make $10 million this year but, per ESPN, will now get a three-year deal worth $27 million, including $13 million guaranteed.
The 32-year-old Jackson was dumped by the Eagles after posting what still stand as career highs in receptions (82), yards (1,332) and TD catches (nine) in the 2013 season. The stunning release came the same day as a report by NJ.com detailing Jackson’s ties to gang members in Los Angeles.
Jackson went on to sign with Washington before moving on to Tampa Bay in 2017.
Jackson has led the league in yards per reception four times, including this past season (18.9). He has 589 catches for 10,261 yards and 53 touchdowns in his career. Also used extensively as a punt returner early in his career, he took four punts back for touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Eagles.
Jackson gives the Eagles a much-needed field-stretching wideout. Torrey Smith filled that role — and earned a ring — before being replaced by Mike Wallace, who broke his fibula in Week 2 and was done. Wallace is one of three Eagles receivers — joining Jordan Matthews and Golden Tate — on an expiring contract who could be lost by the end of the week.
Peters to return
Peters, a left tackle, agreed to a pay cut that will keep him with the Eagles in 2019.
Peters, 37, had been due to incur a salary cap hit of $10.6 million before the restructuring, so the Eagles are believed to have bought themselves some salary cap relief insurance with this new incentive-laden agreement in which his pay will be commensurate with the number of games and snaps he’s able to play.
Peters started all 16 games last season but often wasn’t able to play all the offensive snaps. He played just 79 percent of the offensive snaps last season and missed more than half the 2017 season, including the entire postseason, after wrecking a knee.
Adding Jackson, who has 32.5 career sacks with Denver and Jacksonville, should bolster the interior of the Eagles’ defensive line considerably. They were short at that position most of last year when an offseason back injury to Tim Jernigan carried over into the regular season and kept him from playing the first 13 games.
Jernigan’s option for 2019 will not be renewed, allowing him to become a free agent.
Jackson was released after losing his starting job in 2018. Coming off a Pro Bowl 2017 season in which he had a career-high 8.0 sacks and four forced fumbles, he had just 3.5 sacks and no forced fumbles last year.
Still, at 29, the Eagles feel he has a good bit left in the tank and is an upgrade over Jernigan.
All of this comes on the heels of other recent significant moves by executive vice president of Howie Roseman to clear cap space for the start of free agency.
That included contract extensions for offensive linemen Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo and defensive end Brandon Graham; the restructuring of contracts for right tackle Lane Johnson and safety Rodney McLeod; the decision to allow Foles to leave via free agency and the reported trade of productive defensive end Michael Bennett to the New England Patriots.
According to ESPN, Foles has agreed to a four-year, $88 million deal with Jacksonville that includes $50.125 million guaranteed.
Malik Jackson almost certainly won’t be the only top-of-the-roster player added in free agency. The Eagles also are expected to add a running back and a linebacker to help alleviate the expected departures of Jay Ajayi and Jordan Hicks, respectively.
One of the linebackers they’re rumored to be coveting is C.J. Mosley, who has not been re-signed by the Baltimore Ravens. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said the Eagles likely will pursue Mosley, but they will have some heavy competition: The Browns, Jets and Redskins are among the other teams interested in acquiring this 26-year-old at the peak of his career, according to Cleveland.com.
Mosley has made the Pro Bowl four times in five seasons, in which he’s amassed 597 tackles, 35 pass breakups, nine interceptions and six forced fumbles in 77 games.