DeSean Jackson: Who Should Be in the Mix for Dynamic Playmaker?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 18, 2014

DeSean Jackson: Who Should Be in the Mix for Dynamic Playmaker?

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Just when you thought free agency was slowing down at the wide receiver position, speculation has begun to swirl that has things ramped back up to a fever pitch.

    As Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia reports, the Eagles have been contacted by at least two teams in regard to wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

    According to a source, the Eagles are believed to be seeking at least a third-round pick in compensation for the 27-year-old Jackson, who ranked ninth in the NFL with 1,332 receiving yards in 2013.

    Given Jackson's age and productivity, it would seem there would be approximately 31 teams scrambling to the phone to make that deal, but it isn't that simple.

    There's the small matter of Jackson's $12.75 million cap hit in 2014, according to Spotrac. And the "me-first" behavior that has left Jackson at odds with head coach Chip Kelly, according to CSN's Geoff Mosher.

    Still, there are also plenty of teams (including one playoff team from last year in particular) who could badly use Jackson's ability to take the top off the defense.

    Here's a look at the leading candidates, including the two teams that have already reportedly placed a call to the City of Brotherly Love.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    On some level, it isn't surprising that CSN's Derrick Gunn reports the San Francisco 49ers are one of the teams that have already sent out feelers regarding Jackson.

    After all, general manager Trent Baalke is one of the more aggressive front-office men in the NFL, and the 49ers are no strangers to acquiring a wideout via trade, having gone that route with Anquan Boldin just last year.

    On the other hand, the 49ers have one of the NFL's worst cap situations, with only $4.2 million in space per Spotrac. It would take quite a bit of creative accounting to get Jackson to San Fran, especially with a rookie class still to sign.

    Also, the 49ers aren't exactly hard up at the position with Boldin and Michael Crabtree, and it isn't hard to envision Jackson clashing with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

    Of course, much like Jackson, there are those who believe Harbaugh's personality is going to be his undoing in the Bay Area.

New England Patriots

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    According to Gunn, the New England Patriots are the other team that has inquired about Jackson.

    The report didn't specify if quarterback Tom Brady called them directly, but after last year, it's a distinct possibility.

    The Patriots won the AFC East again in 2013, and while at first glance the team's ranking of 10th in the NFL in passing doesn't look bad, the fact is that inconsistency at the wide receiver position was the biggest issue New England faced offensively last year.

    The team has already added Brandon LaFell at the position and brought back Julian Edelman, but DeSean Jackson would add an entirely new dimension to the Patriots' passing attack.

    Bill Belichick has had more success with high-maintenance veterans overall in the past than he has veteran receivers, but the biggest stumbling block in Beantown would be money.

    The Patriots have less than $10 million in available cap space, although the expected release of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork would free up a big chunk.

New York Jets

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    If the New York Jets haven't already inquired about DeSean Jackson, they probably will in the next few days.

    With $30.6 million in cap space, the room to bring Jackson on board isn't a problem.

    Granted, the Jets have already committed more than a little cap space to the wide receiver position, recently agreeing to terms with Eric Decker on a five-year, $36 million free-agent contract.

    However, if the asking price for Jackson is only a third-rounder, this is still a deal that makes sense for Gang Green.

    There isn't much on the wide receiver depth chart in New York besides Decker, and the acquisition of Jackson would allow Decker to remain in the role in which he thrived in Denver.

    With those receivers, and a capable duo of backs in Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, second-year signal-caller Geno Smith would have an offense light years better than last year's mess.

Oakland Raiders

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Were Al Davis still running the Raiders, this deal would probably already be finished, and Jackson would be a member of the Raiders. A speedy wide receiver with a reputation as a headcase? Done and done.

    Well, Davis is gone, but the idea still holds some water.

    The Raiders are a team that, simply put, just needs talent. On both sides of the ball. Wherever they can get it.

    Yet, somehow, even after blowing through nearly half of the cap space they started free agency with, the Raiders have managed to quite possibly take a step back.

    Yes, the team is better at wide receiver with the addition of James Jones, but Jones isn't a No.1 receiver. The eighth-year pro may not even be a No. 2.

    When the cupboard is this bare, any opportunity to add a player of Jackson's caliber is at least worth kicking the tires on.

Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    There are any number of reasons why pursuing DeSean Jackson makes a ton of sense for the Cleveland Browns.

    The cap space is in no way a problem. With about $41.5 million in cap space per Spotrac, no team in the NFL has more wiggle room.

    That third-round pick the Eagles are reportedly looking for? It just so happens the Browns have not one, but two of those in this May's NFL draft.

    A need at wide receiver? With all due respect to the recently acquired Andrew Hawkins, the Browns could use a weapon opposite Josh Gordon at wideout.

    Now, imagine if you will, a trio of Gordon, Hawkins and Jackson, a ridiculous amount of speed at the disposal of Brian Hoyer or Cleveland's new quarterback.

    The idea of allowing Gordon within 100 nautical miles of Jackson may be a bit unnerving for Browns fans, but the idea of the two blazing through secondaries would do the same for opposing defensive coordinators.

Carolina Panthers

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    Rick Havner/Associated Press

    There are some teams that would like to add DeSean Jackson, and other teams that could use him.

    Then there are the Carolina Panthers, who desperately need DeSean Jackson in the worst way imaginable.

    One year after winning the NFC South and earning the NFC's second seed in the playoffs, the Carolina wideout corps has been completely and utterly annihilated.

    Steve Smith is in Baltimore. Brandon LaFell is in New England. Ted Ginn joined the Arizona Cardinals.

    The Panthers have replaced them with absolutely no one. As things stand today, the Panthers' starters as they attempt to defend their division title would be Marvin McNutt and Tavarres King, according to Ourlads.

    Seriously.

    With under $10 million in cap space, it would take some doing to fit Jackson's contract on the team, and the Eagles know full well the Panthers are over a barrel at wideout.

    Still, the Panthers are really over a barrel at wide receiver.