It’s official, DeSean Jackson will become Robert Griffin III’s go-to receiver as the passer attempts to bounce back from his disappointing sophomore season. The deal was reached after roughly 9 hours of negotiation, as the Redskins desperately tried to lock down terms before letting Jackson’s agent leave the building, knowing that if he did, the Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers would swoop in and sign the star receiver from under their noses.
Although terms of the deal are not yet available, the contract has been called “lucrative” for Jackson, and is expected to be higher than the next highest salary handed to a free agent receiver this offseason—that being the $7 million per year contract handed to Eric Decker.
Given that the Redskins had less than $7 million in cap space coming into the negotiations, and need to keep several million in reserve for draft picks, it is expected that the three-year deal will be heavily back-loaded, with a large signing bonus, pro-rated over the course of the contract to help with cap issues.
Jackson immediately becomes the top receiver on the Redskins roster, taking some pressure off Pierre Garcon, who struggled somewhat as the marquee receiver in 2013. Although Garcon posted career high receiving yards, nearly half of the total passing yards for the team, almost identical to Jackson’s numbers, he struggled to find the end zone, only catching 5 touchdown passes, versus Jackson’s 9. With Jackson lining up opposite him, Garcon will have less pressure, and should have more space to complete catches in.
Jackson is a speedy receiver who should stretch the field for the Redskins. Teams will need to account for this, limiting their ability to blanket a single receiver, or sell out to stop RGIII, as had often been the case in 2013. Jackson really rounds out what could be a potent offense in 2014, lead by the explosive RGIII, workhorse running back Alfred Morris, and Jackson and Garcon.
Jackson will also stay in the NFC East, giving him two opportunities per season to face his former team, and prove to them that it was a mistake to let him leave.
The big losers here were the Oakland Raiders, whose miserable off-season continues. Jackson had been rumored to be the big name signing which signaled to fans that they meant business in 2014. Instead, it becomes just the next player in a long list to be linked with the team, only to land elsewhere. Although the team have signed a few players, including quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Maurice Jones-Drew, given their extraordinary amount of cap room, and huge needs, anything short of the best was always going to be viewed as failure for the team.
Jackson represented, by some distance, the best available free agent wide receiver this season. Instead, the Schaub will be forced to throw to a team of also-rans who struggled last season, rookies, and James Jones, at best, a second tier prospect.
Free agency is not over yet, but unless the Raiders can make some big moves, and quickly, the tenure of their general manager, Reggie McKenzie may well be.