The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly zeroed in on DeSean Jackson as they look for a downfield threat for quarterback Jameis Winston.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the news Tuesday, saying Tampa plans to make a "strong push" for the free-agent wideout.
Mike Jones, Master Tesfatsion and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post also reported the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys are also interested, adding that Washington isn't expected to retain Jackson.
Jackson, 30, spent the last three seasons in Washington. He recorded 56 receptions for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, his third 1,000-yard campaign in the last four years.
Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor and Jackson are largely considered the three best receivers on the market. While the three-time Pro Bowler has indicated he'd like to remain in Washington, he admitted he's going to do whatever makes the most financial sense.
"I’m excited about the opportunity I have to sit back and now the ball’s kind of in my corner a little bit. ... I’ll let my agent take care of all that and sit back and whatever the offers come in and take the best offer. Obviously I do want to be here," Jackson said on Redskins Nation TV (h/t John Keim of ESPN.com).
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It's understandable for multiple reasons why Jackson would want to cash in. At age 30, this is likely his last chance for a big NFL contract. Odds are whatever deal he'll get on the open market will make it impossible for him to be released for at least the next two or three years; by that time he may be past his prime and showing signs of diminished physical traits.
It's also worth noting that Jackson entered the market three years ago with little leverage. The Philadelphia Eagles released him amid multiple rumors about his off-the-field behavior and issues with then-coach Chip Kelly. Washington then swooped in with a three-year, $24 million contract, which was well below market for a player of Jackson's caliber in his prime.
Having rid himself of the speculation about his behavior and put up big numbers as a downfield threat, Jackson's probably going to cash in on the level he should have three years ago.
Whether that's a good thing for Tampa or any other team remains to be seen. Jackson is still heavily reliant on his downfield burst and quickness. He turns 31 in December, and football players don't tend to speed up as they reach the decade mark of their careers. Jackson has also played only 16 games twice in his career; he has a history of little injuries piling up and keeping him out of the lineup.
It's fair to say players with Jackson's skill set and age profile are more likely to take a steep decline in production than a more well-rounded receiver. That said, it's unlikely to stop him from cashing in.