Moving quickly and confidently behind the scenes, the Eagles extended the contracts of offensive tackle Todd Herremans, defensive end Trent Cole and then, without a whisper of notice, locked up Jackson for 5 years and a reported $51 million and $15 million guaranteed.
It is a brilliant piece of negotiating. With a booming wide receiver market in free agency, the Eagles worked the numbers to Jackson's satisfaction, as well as to their liking, and nailed the deal.
This is a huge relief for both sides. Jackson has to feel a great sense of happiness and pleasure that the Eagles reached out with both arms wide open. The Eagles clearly wanted Jackson to be a huge part of this offense for the next five seasons and, at 25 years of age, he approaches the prime of his career with a great mindset.
No longer does Jackson have to answer the questions about his future, about his contract, about being wanted. He can concentrate on football and on the ways he can help this football team win a Super Bowl.
Beyond that, this is a continuing sign that the Eagles are going to take care of their own players who deserve new deals. They have almost had the approach to extend players early in their careers and to give some players, several players over the years including Herremans and Cole, a third contract.
Beyond that, as we all now focus on the team's next step in this free-agency period, the Eagles continue to create flexibility within the $120.6 million salary cap. Earlier on Wednesday, the Eagles traded Winston Justice and released Jamaal Jackson to free up some dollars. How many of those Benjamins were used for Jackson's contract, I do not know. But I do think the Eagles are poised to make their move to acquire a player or two in free agency now.
I don't think the Eagles are going to go nuts in free agency. I will stick to the standard: The team is going to sign one or two players in free agency and then hit the draft hard. Unless head coach Andy Reid has something tucked in his sleeve, way up there, I don't see how the Eagles are going to change course now.
While the team hasn't signed a free agent to date, the Eagles have had a tremendous offseason. Both Herremans and Cole earned their new contracts and, honestly, have been professionals performing way beyond the deals they signed in their early years in the NFL. They were due.
Jackson's contract has been an issue for two years, and finally it is not any longer. It has been reported that the Eagles also freed up as much as $6.5 million in salary-cap dollars for this year with Jackson's long-term deal, rather than the one-year franchise number of $9.5 million. If that's the case, the Eagles have some real room to make some moves both in free agency and in trades or even moving up in the draft.
Stay tuned, of course. The Eagles are moving fast and furious behind the scenes. They have yet to schedule a free-agent visit, but that can change at any time. The Eagles are going to be players to get some impact here, even if it is for one or two players in the next couple of days.
Jackson's deal deserves kudos all around. It was always a tough negotiation. How do you value a big-time playmaker who doesn't catch 90 passes a year, but who has the ability to turn around a game on a single play? Both the Eagles and Jackson, and agent Drew Rosenhaus, came together to do the right thing. To keep Jackson an Eagle for years to come.
With a clear mind and a wide smile, Jackson remains an Eagle. It's a great move for everyone involved as the Eagles do what they set out to do: Take care of their own and keep together a roster that they like.
Next up is improving from the outside. The wheels are in motion there, too. A linebacker? Maybe. There is still quality on the streets. A safety? The rumor surrounds LaRon Landry, but I'm not sure I see that. More help for the offense? Certainly, the Eagles have holes with Justice, Jamaal Jackson and maybe Evan Mathis and King Dunlap departing.
Who knows where the Eagles are going to go next? They do, of course, as they continue to move stealthily in the shadows, quietly getting the job done the right way.