Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) returns a punt against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
There are striking similarities between the mess currently unfolding in Philadelphia and a situation the Vikings went through around this time last year.
As we speak, the Eagles are in the process of shopping wide receiver DeSean Jackson, a player who for one reason or another has been written out of Chip Kelly’s future plans.
And gosh, this whole mess looks a whole lot like what happened when the Vikings decided to part ways with Percy Harvin.
In both cases, I believe the real underlying truth of the situation is a little different than what each team may want its fans to believe.
The Vikings when they decided to move Harvin wanted the fans to think it was about his attitude. Stories began circulating in the press about what a bad apple Harvin was.
For weeks, all you heard was Harvin did this, Harvin said that, Harvin made life miserable for Christian Ponder and Leslie Frazier and everyone else in Minnesota. The stories were of course accompanied by the requisite barrage of trade rumors.
Fans went into full denial mode, believing the trade rumors were a media creation. But the old axiom held true: where there was smoke, there was fire.
The media-leak smear campaign against Harvin was followed by a trade to Seattle. Both sides said all the right things in public, but the implied narrative had already made its way into the minds of fans.
Harvin was a disruption and the Vikings just couldn’t stand living with him anymore. So he had to be traded. Fan favorite or not.
You want the truth? I believe Harvin was a headache yes, but not so big a headache that the Vikings could not have found a way to live with him. If only they could have done so without having to pay him huge sums of money.
Ultimately, I think it was the money the Vikings were mostly concerned about. The stuff coming out about Harvin’s attitude was just a way of smoothing the whole thing over with fans, making it seem like money wasn’t the prime motivation behind the trade.
I look at the Philadelphia situation and I see the same thing happening again.
Reports keep coming out about how the Eagles simply can’t live with DeSean Jackson anymore. Don’t bother asking for specifics. It doesn’t seem that there are any.
All Eagles fans need to know is that Chip Kelly and the organization can’t deal with Jackson anymore and have to trade him. Rumors say he could be headed to the Jets (if they don’t tamper their way right out of the conversation). Or Seattle. Or San Francisco. Or New England.
It seems unlikely that a trade will happen, unless Jackson is willing to re-negotiate his contract and lower his cap number for 2014. Why would Jackson do that if he can just wait it out, forcing the Eagles to cut him and make him a free agent?
It’s unlikely that a trade will happen, but I suspect the Eagles really don’t care. They just don’t want to pay DeSean Jackson. That’s what this is about. Nothing else.
The Vikings, when they traded Percy Harvin, at least managed to score a bounty of draft picks. That made it easier for the team to sell the trade with fans.
And it got even easier after the Vikings used their third pick of the first round on Harvin’s direct replacement, Cordarrelle Patterson.
The success of Patterson and his quick ascension to fan favorite status has only made Rick Spielman look even more golden in his decision to trade Harvin. The fact that Harvin barely played in 2013 due to a hip injury adds to the whole perception that Spielman worked over the Seahawks.
Of course the Vikings had no idea things would work out so well when they started shopping Harvin. It could’ve gone very differently. They could’ve gotten much less in return. They could have never replaced Harvin with Patterson. Harvin could have stayed healthy and been a huge force for Seattle right out of the gate.
Spielman had everything break right for him from a PR sense, and as things stand now, most fans believe Spielman pulled off a brilliant move with Percy.
The Eagles can only hope they will be so lucky with Jackson. So far, they are playing it by the same book Spielman used. Bad reports about Jackson – much more vague ones than those we heard about Harvin; this should make fans even more suspicious – will continue dribbling out while they wait for a trade to materialize.
Even if no trade comes together, Jackson will be gone. The story from the Eagles, disseminated via their media water-bearers, will be about how bad Jackson was for the team.
The Eagles will probably draft Brandin Cooks to replace DeSean Jackson, just as the Vikings drafted Patterson to replace Harvin. If Cooks works out, Jackson will quickly be forgotten.
No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, no matter what the perception is of DeSean Jackson’s character, the underlying truth will be the same as it was when Harvin was shipped out of Minnesota.
It’s about the money. Entirely. Don’t doubt it for a second. No matter what the two teams’ media stooges may want you to think.