Set aside all this foolishness about DeSean Jackson having ties to gangs. Any team releasing a young, ultra-talented, and popular player will look for a good PR story to throw fans off the scent. Aaron Hernandez provides an excellent opportunity to vaguely imply Jackson having friends who have gang ties means he is moments away from a murder charge. The Philadelphia Eagles, as Jim Harbaugh would say, are above reproach. The real story here is which team gets to super charge their offense with a young and unique play-maker? It will not be the Seahawks, and here is why.
Jackson is 26 and coming off his best statistical season. He boasts an insane 17.2 yards per catch career average, and has had a full season where he averaged 22.5 yards per catch. Come on. That is nutty. He is fast. He is young. He played with Seahawks Brandon Mebane and Marshawn Lynch in college at Cal. Pete Carroll knows him and recruited him. Seattle just lost one of its deep threats in Golden Tate, and they have some extra money after losing out on Jared Allen. Make it happen!
Except, there are a few significant obstacles. First, let’s look at it from the Seahawks big picture perspective. They do want to add another receiver. But with $13M in cap space dedicated to Percy Harvin for the next two seasons, they are looking for an affordable receiver. Think draft choice. Think extending Doug Baldwin while he is a restricted free agent and the team still has some leverage in negotiations. It is not that the team is opposed to spending big money on receivers. They were second in the NFL in spending on that position last year. If they do not develop from within, they will have to overpay to bring in outside help because their offense will never feature a receiver.
Even if the Seahawks were excited about bringing in Jackson this season for a prove it contract, they would not be interested in paying him top dollar next year. Jackson is an $8M+ player in any offense, and a $10M+ player in a pass-first offense. Paying $25M for two receivers on a team that throws 25 times per game is bad business. Not to mention, the potential headache of having two players in Harvin and Jackson that have a history of demanding the ball and demanding more money. Demanding the ball as a receiver in this offense is like going to the desert and asking for more ice in your water bottle. Good luck with that.
More importantly, look at it from Jackson’s point of view. He’s just been burned publicly. His reputation is being smeared. This is his livelihood, and he needs to find the best way to get back in a secure situation. The best way to do that is to find a team that suits his game and ball out for one year so he can hit the market again next season with more leverage. He may not even need to wait if there is enough interest in him this season. Maybe a team like Oakland or the Jets will throw enough money his way in a multi-year deal that he sets up shop long-term. It really depends on whether Jackson wants to maximize his earning potential or maximize his security. He would have arguably been the top free agent on the market this off-season, and the cap is going up again next year.
Say he decides to take a one-year deal so he can go out on the market again next year. That would be the only way Seattle would be in the mix. But if you are Jackson, is winning really what will drive your market value? Fans want to say it does. Players know better. Talent and showcasing that talent drives market value. Jackson would be guaranteed to see all his numbers, outside of possibly yards per catch, go down in Seattle. He was targeted 126 times last season. Golden Tate was the top on Seattle with less than 100, and that was with Harvin being out the whole year. A healthy Harvin means the outside receivers are probably looking at 80 targets at the most. You might say that Tate got a big contract, but the reality is that his contract was modest for a #2 receiver, and he was Seattle’s #1 receiver. It also is a matter of playing the odds. A player who produces more is going to be valued more in most cases. Seattle is not a place for receiver production.
Jackson’s worst season came in 2012 when he was targeted 85 times and had just 700 yards receiving. That was the only year he was targeted less than 97 times in a year, and that was just because he missed five games. The right thing for his career is to find a place that will feature him. Play with his quarterback, Michael Vick in New York where they are desperate for receiving and stars shine brightest. Play in Oakland where the franchise is starving for a player to excite fans and rekindle memories of speedsters who actually catch the football. Find a way to play in Carolina where Cam Newton needs a younger version of Steve Smith.
Seattle is not the right fit. Not for the Seahawks. Not for Jackson.