Darrell Jackson: Must Be The Money

The drama rolls unmerrily along for the Seahawks, as Darrell Jackson's absence from the team's voluntary passing camp this week has raised eyebrows and rumors. It now appears that money is indeed the issue - and the resolution may be somewhat complex.

An NFL source has told Seahawks.NET that Darrell Jackson’s absence from the team’s voluntary passing camp may indeed have quite a bit to do with his contract.

Jackson signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the Seahawks in March of 2004 – a contract which included an $8 million signing bonus. That bonus was the second-highest in team history behind the $14 million bonus given to Grant Wistrom just a few days before.

However, two factors may complicate what would seem to be a deal that is more than fair. First, there may have been a verbal agreement between Jackson and former Seahawks president Bob Whitsitt in which the team would “revisit” Jackson’s pay scale if the deal became undervalued in comparison to other top wide receivers. The abovementioned source has also told Seahawks.NET that unless such an agreement is in writing, the team – now led by new team president/GM Tim Ruskell – has no intention of doing so.

Two of the NFL’s best receivers, Terrell Owens of the Eagles and Marvin Harrison of the Colts, signed new contracts after Jackson’s. Owens’ complicated San Francisco-to-Baltimore-to-Philadelphia journey had him landing in Philly in mid-March of 2004 and signing a 7-year, $46 million contract with a signing bonus just short of $10 million - which, he now predictably says, isn’t nearly enough.

Harrison’s new deal, signed in December of 2004, will pay him $67 million over the next 7 years. The deal included $22 million in guaranteed money, but also has flexible roster bonuses which will allow the Colts to nudge the cap this way and that. Harrison had his scheduled $7 million roster bonus converted into a signing bonus in March of this year, allowing the Colts to prorate the amount over the next five years and lowering his 2005 cap number from $9 million to $3.4 million.

Jackson finished 2004 with 87 catches for 1199 yards and 7 touchdowns, which placed him in a tie for 11th with Dallas’ Jason Whitten in catches, 12th in the NFL in receiving yardage, and tied for 21st with nine other players in touchdowns.

His one top-ten NFL stat was, unfortunately, dropped passes – with 11 drops, he tied with Green Bay’s Donald Driver for second in the league behind Chad Johnson of the Bengals, who dropped 14. Johnson, by the way, has hired agent Drew Rosenhaus and is looking to renegotiate his contract to…somewhere around Jackson’s current deal.

It is not known whether Jackson’s specific issue is with the total amount of the contract or the fact that so much of it is backloaded, but the fact that Jackson is earning relatively little of the contract’s value now may be another factor. Adding the $1.5 million base salary he’s set to earn in 2005 to the prorated portion of the $8 million bonus would total $2.833 million. Jackson’s money will escalate heavily toward the end of the deal, with base salaries of $3.25 million in 2007, $4 million in 2008 and $4.75 million in 2009. Jackson will be 31 at the end of the 2009 season.

What Owens told the Philadelphia Inquirer in April may summarize Jackson’s thought process, and underline the frustration some players have with their current contracts. "I just want people to think about what they're hearing from all these reports about me being greedy," Owens said then. "Just take a moment and look at my stature in the game. I know I'm a top player in the game, and my current contract doesn't justify that. The fact that I signed this contract, that I'm under contract, doesn't factor into anything when it comes to the National Football League.

"The Eagles can cut me anytime they want to, even if I'm performing well, I'm healthy and I'm putting up numbers, because they don't want to pay a player that money. If they can do what's best for their financial future, then why can't I?"

Reports indicate that the Seahawks and Jackson’s people are discussing options at this time. Stay tuned to Seahawks.NET for further news as it happens.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at doug@seahawks.net.


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