It’s no April Fools Day joke: the Redskins have landed Eagles All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson for a reported three-year contract. On a day in which unlikely and outlandish scenarios are floated and rarely come true (with one notable exception, fittingly related to the Skins and Eagles), Redskins fans found themselves amidst a barrage of microscopic analysis of every move that Jackson made from the time he arrived at Dulles Airport. (Allow me to condense 36 hours of twitter/message board speculation brief summary: “The Jets want him! No, they don’t! He’s in the building! He left the building! The [Raiders, Browns, Niners] want him! He’s flying back to the Bay Area! No, he’s not!”)
The feeding frenzy finally ended when news of the agreement leaked prior to midnight. The signing comes just days after Jackson, set to receive over $10 million in 2014, was released from the Eagles. A convenient narrative soon emerged that sought to justify the Eagles’ decision, one that hinted that DeSean brought off-season issues and distractions, with the media tossing around the phrase “gang affiliation” several times. The problem with that thus far is the media’s inability to relate it directly to Jackson or his demonstrated on-field production and absence of any “gang”-related impact on his conduct on and off the field in his six NFL seasons. Interestingly, it was another Eagles receiver (Riley Cooper) who grabbed national headlines in 2013 for off-field activities which resulted in his being fined and excused from team activities. However, Cooper remains employed with the Eagles, off-field distractions notwithstanding.
Like many Redskins fans, I vividly remember Jackson's availability in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft, a round in which the Redskins used three selections on two wide receivers (Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly) and a tight end (Fred Davis), with two of those selections (Thomas and Davis) occurring prior to Jackson’s selection by the Philadelphia Eagles. The subsequent seasons bore out Snyderatto’s whiff on Jackson, with DeSean developing into an elite receiver with the Eagles. Worse, Jackson played particularly well against Redskins and had many signature moments, from his 88-yard TD on the first play of 2010’s 59-28 Monday Night debacle to his 7-catch, 104-yard and one TD performance in the Skins’ 2013 season opening loss.
Jackson, who averaged 55 catches, 957 yards, and 5 touchdowns in his first five seasons, had a career year in 2013. DeSean compiled 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, which earned him his third Pro Bowl appearance. Not only were the Redskins impressed with Jackson’s production (both league-wide and against them in particular) and game-breaking speed, but they are bringing him on board in his prime, as he would be 27 by the start of the 2014 season. A welcome aspect of this deal for the Skins, who have no 1st round pick in the upcoming draft, is not having to give up any compensation to acquire Jackson.
Jackson joins Pro Bowl-snubbed Pierre Garçon (following 113 receptions and 1,346 yards in 2013) and fellow new addition Andre Roberts in new Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s potentially potent passing attack. DeSean will no doubt relish his two chances a year to show the Eagles brass how he feels about his exit from Philadelphia.