Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiverDeSean Jackson
(10) catches a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
There has been a lot of talk recently about former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his fit with the Jets. Jackson was on the trading block and it was rumored (and spoken about by Woody Johnson) that the Jets had interest. No one made a trade offer to the Eagles so they released him this week and he is now a free agent. Nine teams reached out to Jackson, none of which were the Jets. The argument for Jackson is that he is an excellent wide receiver that fills an obvious need and is only 27 years old. He has ties to Marty Mornhinweg, who was his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and Sanjay Lal, who was an offensive assistant while Jackson was at the University of California. Not to mention newly signed Michael Vick played with Jackson and the two are close friends. That being said there are many arguments against, I will go over them in this article.
1) Character – If there is one thing that John Idzik has emphasized in his tenure it is the importance of character in the team’s decision-making. Each time Idzik does an interview it is one of the 1st things he mentions. DeSean Jackson has been difficult in the Eagles locker room. He has openly complained about his contract, repeatedly, and decided to take it easy during his contract year so he made sure not to get hurt before he cashed in. I’m not going to count any of the allegations of ties to gang members in Jackson’s past because those are speculative and he would have no suitors if those rumors were true. The reactions of the Eagles players were enough to show me he was a distraction as the players weren’t rushing to his defense, and Jason Kelce went as far as to laud the decision to release Jackson on Twitter.
2) Draft – The 2014 NFL Draft is one of the most stacked drafts of all-time for receivers. This is a great year to have a need at receiver and to find yourself a difference-maker. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin are out there just to name a small few. If the Jets signed Jackson they would get a player who would cost $10 mil/year or more and would be 30 by the time the contract ends. Drafting a rookie gives you a whole rookie contract of four or five years before they get paid. What is the point of being in such a great wide receiver draft if you are going to pass on the prospects? If they signed Jackson they would not need to go wide receiver in the 1st 3 rounds at least and if it didn’t work out they would be stuck drafting a wide receiver in another draft with less talent in it.
Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiverDez Bryant
(88) runs after a reception for a fourth quarter touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles safetyPatrick Chung
(23) at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
3) 2015 Free Agents – The list of free agent wide receivers next year are an amazingly deep group. In that class include Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, AJ Green, Wes Welker, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb and Cecil Shorts III to name a few. This is according to OverTheCap.com and you can view the entire list here. So if Idzik doesn’t like Jackson’s character or think he is worth $10 mil/year or more, he will have more choices next offseason or could pull a surprise at this year’s draft by trading for one of these players from a team who knows they cannot resign that player after the season.
4) Salary – Jackson is going to cost north of $10 mil/year for at least three years and that would mean that the Jets would have $17 million tied up in their top two wide receivers. That would be fine if some of the other young players don’t have their contracts coming up soon. Muhammad Wilkerson will cost at least $12 mil/year, Quinton Coples will get $7 mil/year if he plays to his potential this year and Jeremy Kerley will cost about $5 mil/year, making a total commitment to the top three receivers of $22 mil which is high. Those contracts end in 2015. In 2016, Sheldon Richardson and Geno Smith come up and one can only imagine where the market will be for those players at that time.
5) Chemistry – @NYJet_Prime on Twitter brought up a good point. He said that having Jackson here would be counterproductive to what the Jets are trying to accomplish because the Jets would be selling him on playing with his good friend Michael Vick which could backfire if and probably when Geno Smith wins the competition. That might upset Jackson and create an uncomfortable situation in the locker room. Marty Mornhinweg sold Eric Decker on Geno Smith and his future based on how he finished the year and now to sell Jackson on the exact opposite is counterproductive. The team needs to be on the same page with one quarterback and until he loses that right, that man is Geno Smith.
So as you can see this decision is a lot more complex than x’s and o’s. I trust John Idzik to make the right call for the long-term health of the organization and that decision is to pass on Jackson and use the draft to fill this position.