The New York Jets‘ and GM John Idzik‘s patience in trade talks has paid off, as the Philadelphia Eagles released WR DeSean Jackson today. The Jets had inquired about a possible trade for Jackson, but were understandably un-eager to take on the remaining years of his contract. Jackson is a high-end receiver, coming off a career year in 2013, but has earned, justifiably or not, a reputation for being a selfish, petulant player with character questions. Why, oh why, would the Jets be so averse to signing an overpaid diva with an attitude problem?
(Cough — Santonio Holmes — cough.)
The release of Jackson, however, may change things. With Jackson now on the open market, and free to sign a new contract, the Jets can negotiate a short-term deal on their terms, at a price they deem fit. They may be willing to take a chance with a one-year deal.
Off the field issues aside, the addition of Jackson is a no-brainer given that it would help the Jets address several team needs. First and foremost, Jackson would be an instant boost on the offensive side of the ball. Improving their receiving corps was a primary goal for New York entering this offseason, and adding Jackson — along with free agent Eric Decker — is a tremendous upgrade. The two could prove to be a potent tandem. Jackson’s already established rapport with QB Michael Vick (should he receive time as the starter this season), as well as the receiver’s familiarity with 0ffensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg‘s system bolsters this argument further. Jackson would be able to hit the ground running in Week 1.
Furthermore, if the Jets were to sign Jackson, this would allow for more flexibility during the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. With another talent infusion at WR, the Jets could look to use their first-round pick to address a (gasp!) defensive need. While using a first rounder on a defensive player for the fifth year in a row could potentially cause riots in the streets of New York, it would allow the Jets to fill the glaring hole left at cornerback with the departure of Antonio Cromartie. Most Jets fans have had their hearts set on targeting a receiver in the first round of this year’s draft, but the 2014 class is particularly deep at this position, and New York can no doubt find value here in the second and third round.
Jackson is also a dangerous punt returner. If the Jets could manage to squeeze any production at all from him in this role, it surely would be an improvement to the Jets’ weak special teams unit. Current returner Jeremy Kerley has been inconsistent, and mediocre at best, having set an NFL record in 2012 with 36 fair catches. This is not what you’d like to see with an offense that has steadily struggled to get points on the board. Having a gamebreaker like Jackson returning punts, and shortening the field for the offensive unit, could make an enormous difference.
The Jets should sign Jackson, and if he turns out to be a Holmes redux, generating more headaches than touchdowns, so what? Cut him loose, and move on in 2015. The Jets have the money this year, and can afford to take a chance with a one-year rental. The Jets should sign Jackson, and sign him now.
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