The New York Jets must do all they can to ensure DeSean Jackson is still in green next season, albeit just a couple of shades down the color spectrum.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been shopping the star receiver since the NFL free agency period started. His departure seemed imminent but when there were no bites on the trade market, it looked like the wide out could remain an Eagle. That changed today when Philadelphia decided to release the three-time Pro Bowler after six seasons with the club.
Now that Jackson is on the market, this would be a good time for John Idzik to throw aside the deliberate pace he’s been working at this offseason. A player of consistent contribution and electrifying ability is up for grabs and Jackson needs to be a New York Jet. Now if someone could just put me through to John Idzik’s office.
Jackson is a game-breaker with the speed and ball skills to completely alter the Jets offense (and maybe special teams) in the most positive of ways. We are already aware of his relationship with new quarterback Michael Vick but like his former teammate, D-Jax played in OC Marty Mornhinweg’s system for several seasons. C’mon Mr. Idzik, make the move—familiarity breeds comfort and the Jets need more help than they’ve brought in so far.
Gang Green did the right thing early in free agency in getting Eric Decker to help pack some punch into their feeble offensive attack. Most agreed Decker was not the end of the Jets’ receiver search and that he was a No. 2 guy with the lead man coming either in free agency or in the draft. While the draft may still hold keys to the Jets future on offense, the far and away best free agent of this offseason just became available. And while Idzik has sat on so many millions of dollars waiting, talented players of all positions have gone to other places, leaving the Jets with a generally underwhelming 2014 free agency signing period.
It also seems logical that the Jets can’t rely solely on a rookie to come take the load off Decker’s shoulders and provide consistent production. A legitimate number one just hit the market and its time to pounce. The Jets have already been given the gift of timing since they happen to be one of just a few teams with the cap space available to sign a player of Jackson’s caliber.
Now all Idzik has to do is not be stingy with that money and not give into the fears and concerns Chip Kelly & Co. had in Philly. The financials could be steep (originally owed $10.7 million this season) but could lead to huge rewards for New York. Also, Idzik must act fast because you can bet that some of the other teams that can afford Jackson will be trying.
The Jets are a football team; the front office’s job is to use their resources to improve the roster and help put wins on the board. DeSean Jackson happens to be very good at helping win games. The 27-year old has had three 1,000+ yard seasons and has only failed to reach 900 yards once. A season ago he posted career highs in receptions (82), yards (1,332) and touchdowns (nine). He’s a walking highlight reel that would do wonders for whoever plays quarterback for this club. Nobody will expect the same gaudy numbers in a system that isn’t so up-tempo, but the production throughout his career shows us how dynamic he continues to be.
Geno Smith or Michael Vick would have play makers like Jackson and Decker at their disposal with reliable chains-mover Jeremy Kerley in the slot. The jury is still out on Geno and that has everything to do with the lack of talent at the WR spot a year ago. Giving him these weapons would finally show us what we need to know and suddenly a Jets offense that couldn’t get out of their own way a year ago might actually be able to march down the field and score some points.
The release came following an article on NJ.com earlier on Friday highlighting off-the-field concerns about Jackson, referencing his alleged ties to gang members and their activity in his hometown of Los Angeles. While it seems obvious that he knows and is friendly with members of the gang through his record label, the article says that police admit there is no tying Jackson to the alleged crimes of those gang members. Jackson quickly released a statement refuting the allegations about his character, attempting to clear up the speculation and put to rest any worries about him off the field.
Of course the Jets and their own security department need to look into the matter. Nobody wants their star receiver toting gang signs on the field and being a part of that sort of stuff off it. Still, barring any clear-cut connection to D-Jax and criminal activity, Idzik and the Jets can’t paint him guilty by association. If we did that, so many professional athletes all over the sporting sphere would have giant ‘Proceed with Caution’ signs on their backs.
Unless evidence of criminal guilt surfaces, the off-field concerns should be outweighed by the attributes the athlete brings to the football team. Sure, a fear exists of Jackson being a Santonio Holmes-esque type of guy, who is volatile and disrupts team chemistry while making an exorbitant amount of money. While its valid in some way, is the team supposed to avoid getting better because they’re scared of players’ personality traits? It’s a risk the Jets need to take.
The cure for a chemistry issue? Winning. I’m sure Santonio would have gotten back from injury faster and showed us he cared a little more with a few more wins. DeSean Jackson is the type of player that could put the Jets where they want to be and make them a winning ball club. Unfortunately diva wide receivers exist all over the NFL and Jackson is viewed that way but if he puts up and New York wins, it’ll be less and less of a concern.
Throw rumors of gang affiliations to the side. Forget the allegations of character problems. Let’s remember that despite the production Chip Kelly didn’t like how Jackson fit into his offense and the Eagles wanted to rid themselves of his salary cap hit because they couldn’t afford it. The Jets can and should take a flier on this top-flight player. Use whatever corny pun you want: from flying like an Eagle, to soaring like a Jet? Something like that. Either way, keep D-Jax in green and get him into MetLife Stadium because the New York Jets need him.