WASHINGTON — Here we go again.
As the ink begins to dry on the contract between the Washington Redskins and ex- Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, we the media begin analyzing a very complicated situation.
Let’s get the on-field aspect out of the way, that’s obvious. The Redskins just got a whole lot better on offense and special teams. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the league and he’s a legitimate threat to break a game open every time he touches the ball.
Add to that the money: Jackson comes to town on a 3-year, $24 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. That’s almost a discount when you consider comparable receivers like Percy Harvin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace make far more.
So, on paper (or on Madden), this looks great.
But when was the last time something that looked good on paper looked good on the field for the ‘Skins?
The Redskins suddenly have an embarrassment of riches. Pierre Garcon is coming off of a 113-catch season. Jordan Reed promises to be a top-flight option at tight end. The ‘Skins also have Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Andre Roberts on deck. What happens if Jackson isn’t not getting enough targets? Does he play good soldier or does he start acting like Terrell Owens?
Let’s be honest: The Redskins track record with signings like these is long and wrought with failure. Yes, new coach Jay Gruden’s fingerprints aren’t on that rap sheet. But Dan Snyder’s are. And as long as he’s at the top of the Redskin pyramid, I’m of the belief this team lacks the organizational structure to properly support a move this risky.
Jackson comes to D.C. with baggage. There doesn’t appear to be much substance to the rumors of his gang affiliation, but a guy with a reputation for not getting with the program and not having a strong work ethic is the antithesis of what the ‘Skins need on the heels of the Mike Shanahan disaster.
New England can handle that. So can Pittsburgh, Baltimore and maybe Seattle. But not the team that recently gambled on Donovan McNabb and failed miserably.
Perhaps Gruden gets the most out of Jackson. Maybe we can finally test the leadership of Robert Griffin III. There’s a chance veterans like Santana Moss and the newly-signed Ryan Clark help DJax emulate Cris Carter–another former Eagle who turned his life and his career around outside of Philly.
I’m just not eager to lay any money on that wager.
That said, the Redskins had to roll the dice. The price was right, the fit seems good and their conservative approach to free agency early in the offseason opened the door for them to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity. Team history would suggest this transaction will be a fruitful one.
But they’ll have to prove their locker room and organization is strong enough to buoy up a player like Jackson, who perhaps needs a little more motivation than most players.
If this works, the NFC East is the ‘Skins’ for the taking. If it doesn’t, they’re right where they were before the move: grasping at straws and searching for answers.
As usual, this should be interesting.