Where Will DeSean Jackson Play In 2014?
Ending weeks of speculation, the Philadelphia Eagles released Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson on March, 28. Releasing a player of Jackson’s stature was a bold move by general manager Howie Roseman and second-year head coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly made it clear that under the current Eagles regime, decisions will always be made with the organization’s best interests in mind. Only those involved with making the decision know the reasoning, but off-field issues, work ethic, missed meetings, and suspected gang ties are all rumored to have played a role in deciding to move on from Jackson.
It’s not often a player as young, productive and talented as Jackson hits the free agent market. Had he been released prior to free agency opening, Jackson would have been hands-down the top wide receiver available. The market is still strong for Jackson, as evidenced by the interest he received around the league mere minutes after his release.
Here are my front-runners to land DeSean Jackson and their salary cap space:
Cap Room: $7.46 million
Jackson was scheduled to visit with the Redskins on Monday. The Redskins have an owner with a history of flashy free agent signings in Dan Snyder, a new head coach who has proven to be successful in taking advantage of explosive wide receivers in Jay Gruden, and a talented quarterback in Robert Griffin III. Additionally, and quite possibly the biggest advantage for the Redskins, is the chance to play against the Eagles twice every year.
Cap Room: $32.3 million
This would be a homecoming of sorts for Jackson who played his college ball at nearby Cal. The Raiders have more than enough money to spend and added a quarterback with a Pro Bowl resume this offseason in Matt Schaub. James Jones would offer a legitimate threat at the other wide receiver spot, and the running game should be improved with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew splitting carries. Throw in the Raiders history of bringing in players with off-field troubles and you could have a perfect fit.
New York Jets
Cap Room: $27.9 million
The connections to new Jets quarterback Michael Vick and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwig cannot be ignored. Jackson would be a fit offensively and would give newly acquired wide receiver Eric Decker some help on the other side. The cap space is there, but the real question is, do the Jets want to spend $8-10 million a year on a wide receiver with Jackson's baggage?
Cap Room: $7.34 million
On paper, the Panthers should be making a hard push to sign Jackson. They have a quarterback who is creeping into the “elite” discussion in Cam Newton and lost their top two wide receivers from 2013 (Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell). Newton needs a threat on the outside if he is going to continue to progress. The main question is, will Jackson’s off-field issues scare the Panthers away?
New England Patriots
Cap Room: $8.8 million
This could be a scary combination on a couple of levels. Tom Brady and Jackson together would cause a lot of sleepless nights for defensive coordinators around the league, and the combination of Bill Belichick and Jackson could be a PR nightmare for the Patriots media relations staff. The Pats have the cap space to work something out, but Bill Belichick’s no-nonsense approach may not be a good fit for Jackson.
Cap Room: $15.6 million
The Bills have emerged as a surprise contender for Jackson’s services. They have money to spend and a penchant for giving troubled players a second chance. Head coach Doug Marrone’s system calls for wide receivers with blazing speed and Jackson would fit in nicely across from emerging second-year wide receiver Robert Woods.
When it’s all said and done, I think Jackson ends up signing with the Oakland Raiders. He has a chance to be a part of their rebuilding project, return home to California and Oakland has the money to pay him as a No. 1 receiver. I immediately thought of New England when news broke of his release, but I believe his off-field issues will prove to be too much to overlook and make the Patriots a less likely choice. The other team I could see Jackson wanting to play for is the Washington Redskins. While they do not have the money available that Oakland has, they offer the opportunity to play against his former team twice a year. I believe this decision ultimately comes down to Washington and Oakland with Oakland coming out on top.