Evaluating possible deal for Bills, Jackson

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
11:45
AM ET
One NFL player dominated headlines over the weekend: receiver DeSean Jackson.

Jackson
Jackson was released by the Philadelphia Eagles last week, on the same day that NJ.com reported Jackson had possible ties to gang activity. He later denied the claims.

In the days since, Jackson has drawn interest from nine teams, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Bills are among the teams in contact with Jackson.

As far as other teams who might be in the race, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter John Keim outlined each possibility Monday.

Jackson has options. The Bills have options, too. Let's examine the possibility of the move from each perspective:

Why the Bills would pursue Jackson: Jackson is one of the NFL's top talents at his position. Last season, he had 82 catches, 1,332 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns, which were all career highs. He brings an additional dose of speed to an offense that has no shortage of burners. Combining Jackson and C.J. Spiller's speed and elusiveness would create mismatches for defenses and open opportunities for other receivers, especially Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. The Bills' passing offense ranked near the bottom of the NFL last season and Jackson would provide a big boost for EJ Manuel in his second season.

Why the Bills wouldn't do it: Jackson's exact asking price is unclear, but he has enough suitors on the open market that he should find a significant payday soon. Even with $14 million in cap space, the Bills need to be smart about how they spend their money. They still have rookies to sign, a budget to maintain for in-season replacements, and likely want to carry over some cap space into next season. That doesn't mean they couldn't work a deal so that Jackson's cap number is lower this season, but they don't have bottomless pockets in pursuing him, either. If they aren't able to bring Jackson to Buffalo, the draft is stocked with options at wide receiver. The Bills could move up a few spots and pluck Clemson's Sammy Watkins, while they shouldn't have a problem staying put at ninth overall and selecting Texas A&M's Mike Evans. By signing Jackson, the Bills would also be opening themselves up to questions about his character and presence in the locker room. Would having two stronger personalities in Johnson and Jackson be too much for a young quarterback (Manuel) and offensive coordinator (Nate Hackett) to handle?

Why Jackson would be interested in the Bills: His off-field questions aside, Jackson's greatest success in the NFL came in Chip Kelly's no-huddle system. Under Hackett, the Bills have taken a similar speed-oriented approach and from a scheme standpoint, Buffalo may be the best fit for Jackson. Ultimately, most NFL free agents are looking for the best deal they can find on the open market, and if the Bills put in the highest offer, that will be the strongest factor luring Jackson to the team.

Why Jackson wouldn't do it: A good quarterback makes a receiver better, and right now, the Bills don't have a quarterback situation that would be attractive to Jackson. Manuel completed 58.8 percent of his passes last season, which should be a red flag to any receiver looking to sign with the Bills. Among the other teams reportedly pursuing Jackson are the Redskins and Oakland Raiders. Robert Griffin III (60.1) and Matt Schaub (61.2 percent) both finished with higher completion percentages last season. Another factor that could repel Jackson from Buffalo is the weather, and Jackson is a Los Angeles native who could feel more comfortable playing closer to home.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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