The Buccaneers were linked to high profile DeSean Jackson on Tuesday. Signing Jackson would be the right move – and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t want him.
Free agency is a funny thing. Much like the draft, it can divide a fan base quickly. Everyone has their own ideas as to what their team should do to get better and the Buccaneers fans are no different. You have your cliques who want the Bucs to take their favorite college’s players, you have your “this guy or bust” crowd, etc. Free agency is the exact same thing. You have your fans who want only player A at a position and anyone else is garbage, then you have your fans that will take any player but player A.
It’s funny, really.
I’m part of the crowd that would rather not see the Bucs sign Alshon Jeffery or DeSean Jackson when it comes to addressing receiver. I know I’ll get a lot of hate for that but that’s just how I feel. To me, the injury concerns surrounding Jeffery is too much to risk given the contract he will command. Not to mention it’ll be real difficult to pay Jeffery, then give Mike Evans top five receiver money, then sign Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander, and Ali Marpet to the big deals they’ll get when the time comes. Nothing to do with Jeffery’s talent – he’s outstanding – just too risky and expensive for my taste.
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As for Jackson? Well, that boils down to personal preference.
I view Jackson as more of a one trick pony. However, that one trick? It’s really good.
For someone who has been criticized – true or not – to take plays off and detest going over the middle, the Bucs would essentially be signing a player to just go deep. All the time. Like, that’s it. That isn’t a true number two receiver. To truly compliment Evans and help elevate this offense, the Bucs need someone that can do it all and force defenses to be honest, not double and triple team Evans all game long.
Signing DeSean Jackson doesn’t change that – nor would it stop Jason Licht from finding that guy.
The Bucs have the ability to sign Jackson, a game changing talent that will wreak havoc on opposing secondaries, while still looking to grab that future number two receiver to groom via the draft. There will be guys available in the first two days of the draft that will fit that bill and can learn and develop before being thrust into that role.
Jameis Winston struggles mightily with his deep passes. In fact, Winston’s “deep ball accuracy” (passes that traveled 20+ yards in the air) dropped from 34.6% his rookie season to 26.7% in 2016, ranking him 26th in the league. Some of that has to do with the fact that there are no speed players on this team, so a slightly overthrown deep ball has zero chance of its intended target catching up to it. With Jackson, that changes.
Jackson is coming off yet another 1,000 yard season where he led in the NFL in yards per reception with 17.9. Jackson also had 19 plays of 20 yards or more in 2016 and has had only one season where he didn’t have at least ten such plays – and that was in 2012 when he played only eleven games.
Jackson’s inane ability to track and catch the deep ball is second to none in the NFL, even at age 30. His drop rate in 2016 was a mere 4%. Dirk Koetter would take those odds any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
According to Josina Anderson, who broke the news, Jackson and Winston already have a rapport which would certainly come in handy should Jackson be the big name target Jason Licht heavily pursues. He isn’t going to be the long term answer, but to be able to get a guy like Jackson before you have to extend Evans to that big time deal would be a wise move for the Bucs.
DeSean Jackson wasn’t my first choice for a free agent receiver. Still isn’t. However there’s no denying the help he would bring to this offense. He’s a difference maker. Period. He’s not the big receiver Koetter generally likes, but he has the blazing speed Koetter is dying for in his offense. Even as much as I don’t care for Jackson or his diva persona, it would be difficult to not be excited about the potential of this offense with him on the team.
It’s just make too much sense to ignore.