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Much Ado About Nothing?

Jackson, Samuel Miss Voluntary Workouts

By Lance Epstein

Normally a player missing a voluntary workout is not a huge concern for any team. However, when your star wide receiver who has been asking for a new contract and a disgruntled cornerback that has called out the front office in the off-season miss it, the situation gets be magnified.

On Monday, DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel skipped the Eagles voluntary workouts and are not expected to be at practice any time this week, according to a league source.

No one should really be surprised about Samuel not attending an Eagles practice. Last year, Samuel made the decision to stay at home in Jacksonville instead of attending to the club's second OTA [included the entire team]. Additionally, Samuel has never been a player to workout in the friendly confines of the NovaCare complex during the rest of the off-season as well.

However, the Eagles officially said that Samuel is at home dealing with a personal issue [supposedly death in the family].

Still this situation could also be pointing to bigger issues down the road with Samuel. Speculation by media members and finger pointing by former Eagle Sheldon Brown indicate that Samuel is a big reason for the lack of chemistry in the locker room. Part of it is due his unwillingness to make a tackle, listen to his defensive coordinator and his mere presence. It is beginning to appear as if New England decided to let the talented cornerback leave without offering him a new contract due to his attitude.

In fact, earlier this off-season Samuel was mentioned in numerous trade rumors and he called out the front office of the Eagles. Judging by Samuel's demeanor and attitude this off-season, he comes off looking like he wants to be done with the organization. Moreover, he has stated on multiple occasions that he doesn't know how to improve his skills and he doesn't particularly care for the criticism he is receiving in Philadelphia.

Right now, the Eagles must have Samuel wearing a midnight green uniform because they do not have an adequate replacement on the current roster; at least not this year. Nevertheless, a year from now when he turns 30 and is owed a ton of money, fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley could step into his spot. Lindley has been compared to Samuel for his playmaking abilities, but he also shies away from making a tackle.

Fans should not be surprised if this is Samuel's last season with the club.

As for Jackson, his situation is a bit of a mystery and a surprise. Instead of being at the NovaCare Center, Jackson was in Atlanta hanging out with his friend Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Eagles did not comment on why he was not at practice. Many believed Jackson decided to skip the workouts because of his contract situation. Jackson is in the third year of a four-year rookie contract, which everyone would says he has grossly out performed. A source close to Jackson said the young and talented wide receiver does not plan on being in Philadelphia at anytime this week for the Eagles final week of OTAs. Instead Jackson will be back at home in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that his absence was not due to his contract demands. Still, it is hard to believe that Jackson is not at camp because of a contract issue. Over the last two seasons, he has been a team guy and been at nearly every off-season team activity. Now all of the sudden he does not want not want to be with his teammates? That just does not add up.

Unfortunately for Jackson, he picked a bad year to try and renegotiate his contract. Since there is no collect bargain agreement in place for the 2010 season, the NFL has implemented a 30 percent rule. This means he cannot get more than a 30 percent increase to his base salary from year-to-year. His rookie salary is so minuscule that his new contract still wouldn't match his worth or asking price. The Eagles could offer him a huge signing bonus, but it is hard to imagine the team giving him 25-40 million in guaranteed cash.

Even though Jackson is not at the team's voluntary OTA, he is expected to be at the start of Eagles’ training camp. Jackson has made it perfectly clear this off-season that he is all about winning and not worried about his contract. Hopefully for the Eagles, he is a man of his word and this doesn't turn out like another former Drew Rosenhaus client that played wide receiver with the Birds.

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