Washington Redskins Would Be Smart to Pass on DeSean Jackson

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Sep 9, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) and Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall (23) exchange words in the second quarter at FedEx Field. The Eagles won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins could have the first crack at the newly available DeSean Jackson when they host the Pro Bowl wide receiver early this week, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. However, there's a reason Jackson's on the open market despite the fact he's 27 and coming off a career year, so the Redskins would be smart to tread carefully. 

On paper, the thought of Jackson teaming up with Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed in an offense run by Robert Griffin III is certainly exciting. Garcon, who led the league with 113 catches, has become a reliable possession guy who can also break off big plays. He and Jackson both finished in the top 10 in the NFL in yardage, with Jackson averaging 4.3 more yards per catch. They'd complement each other in a similar fashion to how Jackson and Jeremy Maclin did in Philadelphia. 

Yes, this would be tempting...
Where they ranked in 2013RECYDSTD
DeSean Jackson19th9th14th
Pierre Garcon1st8th38th
Pro Football Reference

However, Jackson has a reputation for causing headaches off the field, which is something the Redskins dealt with quite enough during Mike Shanahan's final season. They've now got a new head coach, who might already have his hands full trying to harness and groom the team's franchise quarterback. 

It's no secret that Jackson developed some sour relationships within Philly's locker room. NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks reported at the beginning of the month that the diva wide receiver "often got into it," publicly and privately, with receivers coach Bob Bicknell. 

Washington's new offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, is only 10 months older than Jackson. They were born in the same year. You have to wonder if this young staff could have its hands full with a personality like Jackson, regardless of whether troubling gang ties established in another NJ.com report are even a factor. (In a statement, Jackson denied having any gang affiliations, per Pro Football Talk.)

Dianna Marie Russini of NBC News4 in D.C. reports that Jackson "wants to play for Washington" but adds that there are potential financial obstacles. Rapoport also notes that the Raiders are in play, and Oakland has a hell of a lot more money to spend than Washington. According to OvertheCap.com, the Raiders have more than $14 million in cap space, while the 'Skins have about half of that. 

Since several interested parties have now been identified in various reports, it's probably safe to assume Jackson won't come cheap. Even if he does prefer Washington, don't expect him to offer any sort of discount. After all, this is a guy who was looking for a new contract only two years after signing a five-year, $48 million deal with the Eaglesaccording to CSN Philly's Reuben Frank.

While the Redskins certainly could find a way to fit Jackson's contract into their budget for 2014, they'd pay a big price down the line. This is an organization that appears to be trying to avoid more cap catastrophes. They're already paying Garcon about $10 million in each of the next three seasons, according to CSN's Rich Tandler

Don't forget that this draft is also considered to be extremely deep at the wide receiver position. Brandin Cooks, Paul Richardson and Martavis Bryant are probably faster than Jackson at this stage, and all should be available early in Round 2. Monster-sized targets Allen Robinson and Kelvin Benjamin should also still be on the board on the second day of the draft. All of those guys would be cheaper and would come with less baggage. 

With Garcon in his prime, Reed having the look of a stud tight end and many options in the draft, Jackson isn't worth the risk, financial or otherwise.