Despite public posturing earlier in the week, the relationship between DeSean Jackson and the Philadelphia Eagles has likely reached a point of no return. When there is this much chatter on a player leaving a team and the General Manager and Head Coach remain so noncommittal about his return, he is as good as gone. The Eagles hope to trade him but eventually just releasing him outright is not out of the question. There has been debate about whether the Jets should pursue him via trade or look to sign him if he is released. Considering the Jets financial situation, their need at the position, Jackson’s skill set and his fit into their offense…yes…the Jets should go get DeSean Jackson.
A common line of thinking is there must be something grievously wrong with Jackson if the Eagles would consider moving on from such a productive player. Yet, the Eagles are also placing Pro-Bowl guard Evan Mathis on the trading block. Why move on from such talent? The reality is that the new regime in Philadelphia likely does not want to pay big money to players who are not “their” guys. Chip Kelly probably believes he can draft a player like Brandin Cooks in the first round to replace Jackson and get comparable production at a fraction of the cost. He also can groom Cooks in his program and not deal with veteran expectations about targets and a role in the offense. It is an egotistical and somewhat risky way to think but there is nothing wrong with it, NFL head coaches need to be confident in their system and ability to develop players.
However, it does not mean that Jackson isn’t every bit the game-breaker he has proven himself to be. Let’s not kid ourselves, Jackson is a big play machine who is smack in the middle of his prime. He is a borderline top 10 player in the league at his position and would be a perfect fit opposite of Eric Decker in the Jets primary two receiver sets and form a lethal three wide look with Decker and Jeremy Kerley. We know he is a strong fit in Marty Mornhinweg’s system and similar to Decker can produce on deep balls as well as any wide receiver in the NFL. It is also just so happens the Jets have a likely starting quarterback who was very good attacking deep in his rookie season.
Jackson does come with potential baggage. He has clashed with his coaching staff before and has showboated in a way on the field that bothers people. Regardless, Jackson has never been arrested. He has never been suspended by the NFL. Too many people rush to compare his situation to Santonio Holmes, who came to the Jets with a four game suspension and was one strike away from a one year suspension. The disappointment with Holmes overall tenure in New York cannot prevent them from improving their talent at positions of need in any upcoming offseason. Each individual player is different. Each individual case is different.
The Jets are flush with enough cap space to handle Jackson’s contract, which is pricey but in the case of a disaster would be manageable to cut bait with before 2015 and even more manageable to cut bait with before 2016. Although any thought of him not making it through three seasons in the middle of his prime is assuming the worst case scenario.
Despite anything being written to the contrary, the Jets organization wants Geno Smith to win the quarterback competition this summer and have a strong sophomore campaign, where he can prove himself as the quarterback for the foreseeable future. It gives the team a cheap starting quarterback and means they don’t have to restart their search for a long term answer next offseason. Mike Vick is a competent fail-safe if Smith gets hurt or begins to struggle like he did last season. However, the Jets organization is much better off if Smith wins the job and runs with it. What is the best way to insure their young quarterback has success in year two? You give him two of the NFL’s top 20 wide receivers, who excel at getting down the field and then you find a tight end who can make plays down the seam in the NFL Draft.
It is rare for a player of Jackson’s ability to shake free at this point of the offseason. Fortunately, the Jets have maintained enough cap flexibility to make a move when a situation like this arises. Personally, I wouldn’t risk waiting out on Jackson potentially being released and hitting the open market to be wooed by a variety of teams. The Jets are loaded up with 12 draft picks, including 8 of which that are eligible to be traded. Considering they have three fourth round picks and four sixth round picks, is a 4th and 6th worth it for a player of Jackson’s skill-set? I’d say so.