Possible Landing Spots for DeSean Jackson After Release from Philadelphia Eagles
Jackson, coming off of a career year thanks to head coach Chip Kelly's offense, wasn't released just because he had a big cap number or even because Kelly may believe he can win with lesser talent out on the perimeter–though both are likely part of the equation. No, it seems the reasons for Jackson's release were a little more complicated, via NJ.com:
A bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly are the reasons, sources told NJ.com. And when the Eagles looked more deeply into why Jackson was missing meetings, they found that his friends were becoming a more powerful -- and negative -- influence in his life.
Now the Eagles have even more serious concerns -- Jackson's continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.
Because of that, it's unlikely Jackson is going to have a wide variety of suitors, as the team would need to be positive that it could bring the troubled receiver in and give him an environment that keeps his behavior in check.
The teams on this list are those with either the severe need at receiver worth taking that risk (plus the money to sign) or front offices and locker rooms capable of corralling Jackson. This eliminates teams like the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys in my mind.
Yet because of Jackson's talent, it is also unlikely that he'll spend a ton of time on the market, as teams will move quickly once everyone on the coaching staff and the front office is in agreement.
New York Jets
Yeah, I know I just said on the previous slide that I ruled out the Jets, but they are still showing "some" level of interest, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
This would be a terrible move for the Jets and against the grain of what general manager John Idzik has been trying to do. The Jets have already spent money on a big-name receiver this offseason, bringing in Eric Decker, and they're not at the point where building around the receiving corps makes any sense with so many needs elsewhere and a quarterback position in flux.
New quarterback (maybe starter, maybe insurance) Michael Vick may be close friends with Jackson, but is unlikely to have enough pull this soon in the game to really influence the decision. Not to mention the fact that he may not be in New York long enough to even factor in.
Most importantly, the Jets' culture doesn't have the wins nor the leaders to support a player like Jackson. Their interest should begin and end with kicking the tires.
San Francisco 49ers
According to Pro Football Talk, the 49ers were interested in Jackson via trade, but weren't willing to part with one of their numerous draft picks to bring him over.
Jackson's contributions to the 49ers offense would be almost immediate, as he'd be the most physically talented receiver on the team and is certainly able to take the top off a defense while receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin work underneath. Oh, don't forget they have tight end Vernon Davis as well.
The 49ers have had a legit defense for a long time, but Jackson would bolster their receiving corps and give young quarterback Colin Kaepernick another premier target to throw to.
It's worth mentioning, too, that Jackson is well-versed at "freelancing" down the field, as he did so for years with Michael Vick under center. When the play breaks down for Kaepernick and he chooses to run around, Jackson will almost certainly be open deep.
Harbaugh is a strong personality of a coach, and it shouldn't be surprising that he might think he can give Jackson the tough love he needs. Frankly, with the well-publicized riffs between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office, this is a no-brainer move for the personnel guys. Jackson will either put the offense over the top and lead them to a championship, or he'll be the albatross around Harbaugh's neck.
New England Patriots
The Patriots inquired about Jackson in trade talks as well, according to Derek Gunn of Comcast SportsNet, so why not bring him in on a short-term, image rehab sort of deal. Tom Brady certainly needs even more help in the receiving corps, and Jackson would give them their best deep threat since another wide receiver with a checkered past—Randy Moss.
Of course, the downside here is obvious. Fresh off of the Aaron Hernandez issue, the Patriots would be crazy to bring in another person with possible gang affiliations, right? Well, head coach Bill Belichick has been down these roads before and would probably need to be absolutely sure that he could control Jackson.
This landing spot, however, might be the most attractive for Jackson, because the allure of playing with Brady could be his best chance for a big payday following the season.
The Panthers need a wide receiver the most by far, and it's almost impossible to think there aren't at least internal discussions going on right now about adding Jackson.
Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer disagrees with me:
Gettleman said this week every move he makes sends a message to the locker room.
What kind of message would it send if the Panthers sign a player with a diva reputation and known gang ties whom the Eagles just jettisoned after one of his best seasons (82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns)?
The Panthers may not want to take the risk of upsetting the apple cart, but they're heading into the draft with urgent needs at receiver, left tackle and in the defensive backfield.
A high-risk/low-reward signing like Jackson could be somewhat mitigated with lower "show-me" contract that would pair the speedy Jackson with one of the NFL's strongest throwing arms.
The Oakland Raiders made an unheralded move in acquiring quarterback Matt Schaub, and if he doesn't have anyone to throw to in Oakland, his time there will be as disappointing as Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, Carson Palmer, Matt McGloin, Jason Campbell...do I need to keep going?
As the Raiders have been known to take chances on malcontents in the past (again, Randy Moss), it's worth noting that specific trend has declined in the Reggie McKenzie era. That said, they have tons of money to spend and very few targets worth spending it on as much as Jackson.
The real concern here is that the Raiders (like the 49ers) would put Jackson in direct proximity with his old California-Berkeley stomping grounds—and much closer to the streets of Los Angeles which seem to be a problem for him.
Worse yet, the Raiders are one of the teams looking at a possible move to Los Angeles in the future, so any long-term deal would put Jackson right in the thick of situations that might have gotten him cut from the Eagles in the first place.
I expect the Raiders to be in the discussion, both for Jackson's need to leverage their dollars and maybe his desire to head homeward, but a long-term, big-money deal would likely be needed to entice him to sign with a perennial underdog, and that deal might not turn out very well for Oakland.
If we're handpicking coaches to mentor any player, Pete Carroll immediately rises to the top of that list. Now, he would have to be positive that he could "get through" to Jackson, as he doesn't have a ton of patience for players with poor practice habits.
Still, if Carroll were able to get through to Jackson, the receiver would be near-unstoppable in an offense that is begging for a receiver of his abilities. Even with Percy Harvin back for 2014, the Seahawks have to know that they can't lean on him, as he consistently misses long stretches with injury problems.
Although the Seahawks had been linked to Jackson's name in trade rumors, Pro Football Talk recently reported that Seattle has "no interest" in Jackson. Maybe him being on the free market could change that.
With Jackson in the fold, assuming he plays nice, the Seahawks offense could be almost as fearsome as its defense, and that would go a long way toward keeping that Lombardi Trophy in the upper northwest.