That the Eagles used the tag on Jackson, announced late Thursday afternoon, was certainly not a surprise. It was part of the equation for a couple of weeks now as the Eagles line up their pieces for the season ahead. Almost everyone knew this was a strong possibility.
What it means beyond this moment is, of course, the big story. How does Jackson react mentally to a franchise tag that, for some players seeking a long-term contract and a high signing bonus, is not favorable?
Tweeted Jason Babin, moments after learning of the move: "It's life ... just do your thing ..."
It's good life, isn't it? Jackson made around $450,000 in 2011, the final year of his rookie contract. He's gotten himself quite a handsome raise. But it is not the long-term deal that players want, and we all understand that.
Jackson said at the end of the 2011 campaign that he would be OK if the Eagles made such a move. And so we assume that he feels OK right now.
What about later in the year when the reporters are buzzing around his locker at the NovaCare Complex asking him about his future plans and it becomes a daily story and, well, we've been down this road before. Two thousand and eleven was one of those seasons, and Jackson admittedly did not react as well as he hoped he would.
The upside here, and the reality, is that the Eagles clearly want to keep Jackson for years to come. No doubt the team and Jackson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have had discussions. Hopefully the conversations continue and the Eagles and Jackson come to a meeting of the minds and a long-term deal is in place before too long.
General Manager Howie Roseman spoke hopefully of such a scenario in a statement when the news was announced.
"We want DeSean to be an Eagle for the long haul and this is a step in the right direction to accomplish that," said Roseman. "DeSean is a talented player and a proven playmaker in this league and we look forward to him continuing his career in Philadelphia. It's our understanding that he has the same desire. We will continue our efforts on getting a long-term deal done with him."
What do those words mean? For starters, it sounds as if any idea that the Eagles might tag Jackson and then trade him is wrong. They want to keep Jackson here, and they will keep working on a deal. That's comforting both from a team side and a player's side.
Roseman has been nothing but complimentary and optimistic in his dealings with this situation, which is the right approach to take. The Eagles know that in Jackson they have a player with extraordinary big-play skills and breathtaking speed. They know the impact he has on defenses and they know how well he fits into the offense.
Also, Roseman's words indicate that the Eagles have placed and will continue to place a priority on Jackson's status. He does not go to the back burner. Instead, the Eagles will try to work with Rosenhaus and together achieve something special.
It could be that the upcoming free-agent picture for wide receivers -- there are a lot of very talented wide receivers who could become unrestricted free agents -- will help set a better financial picture for both parties to negotiate within.
There is a lot to be told in this story, in this relationship between Jackson and the Eagles. The Eagles used a second-round draft pick in 2008 on Jackson and he came right in and was a dynamite playmaker, a Pro Bowl performer and someone who played hurt and who showed up every week. An up-and-down 2011 is not going to deter the Eagles from attempting to keep Jackson in the fold for a long time.
How many 25-year-old men have accomplished what he has accomplished, and who have so much great football in front of them?
The franchise tag was a necessary step, and it obviously leaves open all kinds of next-step questions. Those answers will come in the near future. The Eagles, it seems, aren't going to let Jackson go anywhere else. They want him here, a fit that seems just right.
Now it is on to other business, with Jackson's contract still looming. A busy offseason gained some clarity on Thursday as Roseman and head coach Andy Reid handle it step by step.