By Signing DeSean Jackson, Redskins Enter List of NFL’s Free-Agency Winners

Share
DeSean Jackson return TD

 DeSean Jackson scores a touchdown during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The DeSean Jackson story has already run its course, but analysts continue to dissect the Washington Redskins’ signing of the dynamic wide receiver. But no matter what angle you look at it from — on the field as a new deep threat for Robert Griffin III or off the field as a potential distraction — it’s a win-win.

After the major pieces of the free-agent puzzle fell into place after the first few weeks of the official NFL offseason began, the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and New England Patriots were named as winners of free agency. With the signing of Jackson, Washington needs to be added to that list.

Before we can even address the addition of Jackson, here are the other moves the Skins made. The team added cornerback Tracy Porter, wide receiver Andre Roberts and signed Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher away from the division rival Dallas Cowboys. Linebacker Perry Riley, corner DeAngelo Hall, wide receiver Aldrick Robinson and top pass-rusher Brian Orakpo were all retained as well.

The team, of course, found a new head coach in Jay Gruden, who is less of a head case than Mike Shanahan, and will instantly have a better relationship with RGIII.

Then factor in the signing of Jackson. Like the addition of Hatcher, the move not only strengthens Washington but weakens the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson will be eager to prove Chip Kelly and members of Philadelphia’s front office wrong, and he’ll have at least two opportunities to do so. Jackson’s unrivaled breakaway speed creates a formidable receiver duo alongside Pro Bowler Pierre Garcon, and creates a dangerous receiving corps rounded out by the newly signed Roberts and up-and-coming tight end Jordan Reed. And with all of the attention now on the Skins’ receiving weapons, it also allows more running lanes for workhorse running back Alfred Morris and more opportunities for Griffin to scramble.

Although it wasn’t the kind of offseason we have come to expect in the nation’s capital, with owner Daniel Snyder making it rain to bring in the big-name free agents, it proved to be a pretty economical one that should ultimately pay dividends. The team didn’t have too many holes, being just one year removed from an NFC East crown. Any holes it did have or could have potentially had by losing free agents were solved, and upgrades were made in numerous areas of need.

And without a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, the Redskins found a way to be creative about improving the team.

The signing of Jackson should and will prove to be a win-win for Washington. If everything goes according to plan, the Redskins just created one of the best wide receiving duos in the entire league, and the team will have a very, very motivated Jackson for the upcoming season. And it should be fun to see how Jackson plays when he’s hungry; we saw him post career-high numbers in 2013 when he had nothing to prove.

There is a potential downside, though it’s extremely minimal.

What if Jackson’s reported gang ties turn out to be true? It’s not exactly the worst situation the Redskins can find themselves in. After all, like the Eagles, they can simply elect to release Jackson, which may ultimately wind up being the receiver’s last chance in the league. But Washington didn’t break the bank to sign Jackson; the cap hit would be minor, and the team would have to find a new weapon for RGIII next offseason or through a trade of some sorts.

So it comes down to this: either Jackson performs, and performs well, lifting Washington back to the top of the NFC East and the playoffs, reinvigorating the offense and helping Griffin bounce back in a big way in 2014. At worse, the team cuts ties with Jackson amid off-the-field issues, and allows the Oakland Raiders to try and allow him to resurrect his career. Of course, when your last chance to salvage your career comes in the Black Hole, you’re already out of the league.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.