Thursday, April 3, 2014
Leftover thoughts: DeSean Jackson
By John Keim
I know DeSean Jackson said his number was not yet assigned and he mentioned the possibility of still having No. 10. But here's the thing, and I wish I had written this Wednesday: There's no way the NFL would allow Robert Griffin III to relinquish that number and Jackson knows this. It's too ingrained in the marketing, of both the Redskins and the league. I don't know what number Jackson ultimately will wear. It won't be No. 10. Receiver Aldrick Robinsontweeted Wednesday that, "Guess I gotta swag it out in #15 this year." So his No. 11 is available. That would make sense for Jackson: 10 from Philadelphia; 1 from Cal; 11 in Washington. I don't know if that's a done deal -- Jackson said on Redskins nation he might opt for No. 4, which he wore in college. Regardless it makes sense to change. New start for Jackson; new number, too. UPDATE:And then there was this tweet clinching the deal:
Fans everywhere please calm down. Not changing my # @DeseanJackson10 will kick off his new beginning with us in a new one #HTTR
While many want to portray this as a typical Dan Snyder signing, the sense I got this week is that the organization was all-in and the desire did not just derive from the owner. The coaches wanted receiver DeSean Jackson, too. In the past Snyder steered the ship and pushed for players maybe others did not want. That's not the case here.
They were aggressive and that's a Snyder trademark, but that clearly was a good thing in this situation. The Redskins also knew if Jackson left the chances of him signing here would go way down. The aggressive tone begins with Snyder, but there was a sense of urgency by many, including the player.
I mentioned to one person in the organization about Snyder being aggressive in this pursuit to get it done and his response was, "This is on Bruce [Allen]." But you also can't dismiss the idea that if the team wants a guy, then Snyder will push hard to close. As he should. But this was a group effort to lure Jackson, from Griffin to DeAngelo Hall to coach Jay Gruden and the front office.
I liked Griffin's quote about still needing to accomplish something together. Too many titles have been won here in March and April. Too many things have looked good only to fail. There will be a transition here, just having a new coach and partially new offensive system. But when you have playmakers, you can compensate for the learning curve by just getting the right ball to the right guy at the right time.
The Redskins had 39 pass plays offensively of 20 yards or more and six for at least 40 yards in 2013. The Eagles led the NFL in pass plays of 20+ yards (80) as well as 40+ yards (18). Only Carolina had less than Washington. Obviously it wasn't all about Jackson in Philadelphia, but he will bring that element to Washington. Griffin needs time to throw long; he also has to connect. But bigger plays will be available.
One thing that will help is getting Pierre Garcon open downfield more. In 2012 he was able to do so because of all the misdirection and zone read option fakes that unclogged the middle or caused linebackers to make poor drops. But a year ago it seemed that too often his big yards after the catch came on horizontal routes. So a 10-yard run was sometimes only a 10-yard gain. They need that middle free so a 15-yard catch can turn into 25. With Jackson taking away pressure on the other side, that should help.
It also will depend on how teams play the Redskins. Clearly they'll try to take away the big play, perhaps with a lot of two-deep or cover-2 looks. That's when having running back Alfred Morris should help.
They can give more option plays to Griffin, where he can hand off or throw a pass and only he knows what he'll do. The Redskins can do what the Eagles did at times last year: Show the zone read to one side, a bubble screen to the other and have a route run down the middle. Lethal stuff when it works.
As far as the contract, it's favorable to both sides. Jackson did not get what he might have had he hit the open market as a true free agent. But his price tag was definitely lowered by having been cut. The thinking: There's a reason you've been cut and why other teams are guarded in their desire to land you. That worked to the Redskins favor and allowed a team with around $6 million in cap space to land a player such as Jackson.
Jackson's cap hit this season will be around $4.25 million. His base salaries in 2014 and '15 are fully guaranteed ($1 million and $3.75 million, respectively). He receives workout bonuses of $500,000 in the first three seasons of the deal (the fourth year will void). The cap hit would be $9.25 million in years two and three. He has roster bonuses that could total up to $1.5 million this season and $3.75 million in both 2015 and '16.
So it's a fair deal for both sides. The Redskins have done well in that regard this season. It's one area that Allen has done well, along with their cap specialist Eric Schaffer.
Jackson was asked about Eagles coach Chip Kelly on the conference call. But he turned it around onto Jay Gruden: "He's a very intelligent guy. I saw some of the success he had with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and the Bengals. He has a lot of weapons. He has a lot of toys to mess around with. ... What's better off than to say, 'Let's get it on and have a great year.'