The New England Patriots have had possibly the most eye-popping offseason in franchise history so far in 2014. They’ve added perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL in Darrelle Revis. along with another dangerous corner in Brandon Browner, and a dynamic wide receiver in Brandon Lafell. They have also met with WR Kenny Britt, and are still open to signing him.
Even with all those additions, perhaps the biggest splash the Patriots will make in free agency could be their next move. That move could be the addition of troubled Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson.
On the surface, one might think there is no way the Patriots could afford Jackson; some may even say that the team should not bring him in because he is a diva. His attitude could be concerning, but the Patriots have taken on guys with diva status before (Aaron Hernandez, Corey Dillon and Randy Moss are examples), and Hernandez is the only one that blew up in their face, although for a few years he was an elite TE in the league.
The Patriots can avoid a distraction better than almost any team in football. After all, it was only this past summer that the Pats brought in Tim Tebow, perhaps the most polarizing player in the history of the league. If they could control the circus that resulted from having an alleged murderer as a part of their team along with Tebow, then Jackson should be fine in Foxboro.
As for the salary situation, the Patriots are roughly $4 million under the cap as of right now. Given that fact, it looks almost impossible for them to afford Jackson’s $10+ million price tag in 2014. However, the Patriots could increase their cap room significantly in the next few weeks. They could do this by cutting or restructuring Vince Wilfork‘s contract, along with extensions for players like Stephen Gostkowski, Devin Mccourty and Dan Connolly. Extending those players would create roughly $10 million in funds. If they chose to cut instead of extend these players, they could save as much as $17 million in cap space, according to Miguel Benzan of Patsfans.com.
As far as other interested teams are concerned, let’s run through them all (or at least the teams reported so far).
The New York Jets have been linked to Jackson for a while now, and the addition of Michael Vick at quarterback surely will not quiet speculation. However, the Jets have many more needs to fill than Jackson. The Jets signing him to a big contract and giving up a draft pick could set their franchise back. They must realize this too, and that is why I would be surprised if he went there.
The Carolina Panthers are in a similar situation as New England, as they have only $5 million in cap space right now. The problem is that they have less options than the Patriots when it comes to freeing up space. They could free up money with a long-term deal for DE Greg Hardy, but not enough to make a big difference. Also, Steve Smith was cut for being a distraction, and the Panthers are unlikely to trade one for another, even if it is Jackson.
The San Francisco 49ers are thin on cap space and may not have significant interest in trading for Jackson, according to reports. Therefore, they are unlikely to trade for the receiver’s high priced contract and diva attitude.
One thing is for sure, Jackson won’t play for the Eagles in 2014, according to multiple reports, and the Patriots are in the best situation to acquire him, in my opinion. He is versatile, can line up all over the field, and could be the deep threat the Patriots need.