Vincent Jackson and the Most Underrated Moves of the 2012 NFL Offseason
In just about any other NFL offseason, Vincent Jackson moving on from the San Diego Chargers would have been the most publicized football news.
However, he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a free-agency period for the ages. Mario Williams was signed to a $100 million deal by the Buffalo Bills, and legendary quarterback Peyton Manning dominated the headlines with his tour of NFL teams before landing with the Denver Broncos.
Sure, everyone knows how skilled of a player Jackson is, but his signing went relatively unnoticed after he was one of the first players to sign with a new team and the Williams and Manning watches took center stage.
He wasn't the only underrated addition of the 2012 offseason, though.
Let's take a look at Tampa Bay's acquisition of Jackson and other underrated moves we witnessed before the 2012 regular season began.
New Orleans Saints signing free agent Curtis Lofton
The Saints are 3-5 and have a long way to go before they're legitimate NFC playoff contenders, but the addition of Curtis Lofton was a smart one.
New Orleans has allowed the most rushing yards per game this year, but its 26-year-old linebacker has been one of the lone bright spots on the defensive side.
He's totaled 76 tackles and one sack through eight games, and now that Jonathan Vilma's back, expect he and Lofton to become a rather formidable linebacker tandem.
Without the rangy and aggressive former Atlanta Falcons standout, imagine how bad the Saints defense would be at this point.
Minnesota Vikings drafting Matt Kalil
Before him in the 2012 draft were Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson—a trio of collegiate stars who received about as much pre-draft notoriety as humanly possible.
When the Vikings were on the clock at the No. 4 position, many believed they would look to bolster their pedestrian wide receiver corps and draft Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.
Minnesota took the safe route and grabbed Matt Kalil, and, well, the rest is history.
The Vikings have vastly exceeded expectations this season—currently at 5-4—and Kalil has been an integral part in Christian Ponder's development and Adrian Peterson's resurgence.
Meanwhile, Blackmon has 23 catches for 225 yards and one touchdown.
Things may have been different in Minnesota, but it's safe to say, the Vikings made the correct choice on draft day.
St. Louis Rams drafting Daryl Richardson
The Rams are 3-5, and after a relatively impressive start to the season, they're playing the way many thought they would this season—poorly.
That doesn't mean all is bad for this rebuilding club.
With the second-to-last pick in this year's draft, St. Louis rook a shot on a diminutive runner from Abilene Christian.
Eight games later, Daryl Richardson looks to be the scat back of the future, a guy certainly poised to produce for the Rams for many years to come.
He has 335 yards on a mere 62 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and has been the ideal complement to the more powerful Steven Jackson.
Richardson epitomizes draft-day value.
Washington Redskins drafting Alfred Morris
Similarly to Richardson, Morris was a late-round draft pick at the running back position who's blossomed into a productive runner in his first professional season.
Morris has defied Mike Shanahan's typical running back carousel with the Washington Redskins.
The Central Florida alum and sixth-round pick is fourth in the NFL in rushing with 793 yards and carries a fine 4.8 yards-per-rush average.
He and Robert Griffin III are the foundations for the future on offense for Washington.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing free agent Vincent Jackson
The Jackson acquisition was huge for the Buccaneers, but as mentioned, the timing of it and the impending free agents still available overshadowed his move from San Diego to Tampa Bay.
Although the Bucs had a shaky start to the season, Jackson has been an integral facet of Josh Freeman's comeback year.
The 6'5'', 230-pound wideout has 31 receptions for 710 yards and six touchdowns.
That means he's on pace for over 1,400 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, which would mark the best statistical season of his illustrious career.
With everyone paying attention to the New Orleans Saints coming off their bounty scandal, a balanced Atlanta Falcons team and Cam Newton's sophomore campaign, Jackson's been one of the main reasons why Tampa Bay's in the thick of the NFC wild card hunt.
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