News came down today that the Seahawks have entered in contract negotiations with Chargers Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson. Jackson, 27, is a 6’5″ 230 lb beast of a wideout. Not surprisingly, he is known for making plays over the top of defenders and being a target for fade routes in the end zone. His career average of 17.2 YPC tells us he’s a big play guy as well.
The news about Jackson comes on the heels of news that the Seahawks had invited former 49er WR Brandon Jones in for a visit as well. While the Seahawks don’t have an established #1 receiver, they also are loaded with bodies.
Make no mistake about it, a few Seahawk WRs are squirming after hearing this news. Bringing in a player like Jackson means somebody has to go. Butler, Tate and Mike Williams are young with upside and smallish contracts. Housh was gone the last three days for the always curious “personal reasons.” He has to be noticing how few balls are coming his way in practice. It would be a surprise, though, if he was on the way out. He is guaranteed $7M this season, so releasing him would be pretty rash. They might be able to get something of value in a trade, and it would clear some cap room for a #1 like Jackson. I’m not ready to give up on Housh yet. People keep forgetting he caught 79 balls in a “bad” year last season.
Deion Branch has had a strong camp, but is a terrible pairing with Housh. Neither can stretch the defense, and will likely lead to teams rolling up a safety to clog the underneath routes. Branch has no guaranteed money on his deal if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster. That certainly doesn’t help his chances.
It’s possible to imagine the Hawks using the acquisition of a player like Jackson to knock a player off the bottom of the WR ranks like a Ben Obamanu if they are planning to keep six on the roster (Housh, Branch, Jackson, Tate, Butler, Williams). That would mean Branch would likely slide into the slot, leaving Housh and Jackson to play the outside. I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world, but I’m not sure I like the idea of reducing the playing time of the younger receivers with a team clearly rebuilding. If you don’t jettison Housh or Branch, acquiring Jackson means less time for Williams, Tate and Butler.
The meta-message through all of this is the front office is never going to stop looking for ways to improve the talent on the roster. I love that. For all the talk about Pete Carroll running a “soft” camp, he will continue to get the most from his players if they know they have to bring it every day or risk being replaced. Is Jackson the answer at WR? I’m not sold that he is, but I love that we are kicking the tires.