Jackson, who is in the final season of his rookie deal, is one of the most gifted athletes in the NFL, and he's got the ability to score any time he touches the ball, whether it's after a reception or during a punt return. He's a freak with game-changing talent, and his raw speed makes him an even bigger asset in an offense with the strong-armed Michael Vick.
Yet Jackson's maturity has been the question, and he might have hit a low point two weeks ago when he was suspended by the Eagles for missing a special teams meeting. Even worse, Jackson told NFL Network that he wasn't the only one who had missed meetings, and he didn't seem to think it was fair that he was the one who got suspended for it.
Fair or not, Jackson shouldn't be using excuses and selling out his teammates, which might lead to a larger issue of an underachieving roster of stars who don't appear to be fighting for the team goal. Because Jackson wants to get paid like a superstar, he should act like a leader behind the scenes, collect his teammates and make sure no one skips those meetings — rather than joining in with the group and believing it's OK to cut corners.
From there, if Jackson signs a big-time contract, the rest of his teammates will look to him to set an example, whether he wants that responsibility or not. If he's skipping meetings, others will fall in line and do the same. That's just how things work, and it's also how locker rooms divide over time. Why would an organization pay top dollar for that type of headache?
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald set the bar with an eight-year, $120 million contract this past summer, but Fitzgerald has been a franchise player with a sterling reputation on and off the field. He has also surpassed 90 receptions and 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons while amassing 41 touchdowns from 2007-10.
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson inked a two-year extension in 2010 that was tacked onto his previous contract, giving him a seven-year deal worth $73.5 million, or an average of $10.5 million per year over the life of the deal. But like Fitzgerald, Johnson has been a statistical juggernaut.
Jackson, meanwhile, has a career high of 62 receptions and he averaged 57 catches during his first three seasons. However, he averaged 1,041 yards in those three seasons and also scored 20 offensive touchdowns and scored four times on punt returns.
Jackson has proven to be a big-play threat, but can disappear at times because he's not a possession receiver who can consistently beat defenses. But because of his extraordinary talent and elite speed, he'll command a contract in the ballpark of $10 million per season.
There will be times when his flash is worth it. There will be other stretches when he's more of a pain than his contract should allow, and that's the debate that front offices will have to weigh next offseason.