We awoke Monday with the hearts of Redskins’ fans all a’flutter with visions of DeSean Jackson dancing in burgundy and gold. Not only is Jackson a stellar wide receiver, but the Redskins have lacked a legitimate No. 2 wide out since Rod Gardner. (Gawd it hurt me to write that.) If we can land him, we want him, but it’s never as simple as that, is it.
Here are six things you never thought about that stand in the way of this deal.
No. 1 ̶ The Redskins played this wrong. They don’t want to be the first team Jackson visits. They need to be the last team he visits.
By talking to an in-demand player first, the ‘Skins actually set the market for Jackson’s services. Their offer will be the target of every other team Jackson visits. I’m reading those teams are the Raiders, and Bills, with the Jets, Buccaneers and Panthers interested in conversation. The Chiefs dropped out of the chase. That tells us that Andy Reid either has a high opinion of his receivers, or maybe is not so high about the player we covet.
The Redskins could make the last offer to Jackson by making it a mind-blowing proposal, but that takes us to the next on this list.
No. 2 ̶ Daniel Snyder is a changed man.
Gone are the days when Mr. Snyder “never let ‘em leave” without a contract. All it took was Adam Archuleta, Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Lloyd and the $100 million fiasco known as the 2000 Redskins. The owner finally gets it that buying names and gaming the salary cap was not a true strategy for winning in the NFL.
At best you could say that Snyder thought like a fan. Virtually every fan on my Twitter timeline wants Snyder to sign Jackson today at any price. I suppose they will blast him tomorrow if Jackson leaves without a deal. The Redskins don’t operate that way so much since Bruce Allen’s arrival.
The Redskins don’t set the market price anymore. Washington is into managing to the cap and paying going rates, although they will pay above market for a targeted player. The trade that landed us Robert Griffin III is one example. DE Jason Hatcher is another.
The ‘Skins locked Hatcher to a deal for twice the going rate before he ever set foot in Redskins Park. They may well be doing the same with Jackson. But that tendency is increasingly rare and you just better get used to it.
The Redskins locked Pierre Garcon in with No. 1 receiver money. They signed what is thought to be a smart deal for WR Andre Roberts who projected as a No. 2 receiver before this. The team could create cap room by releasing Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson. The decision rests on what Jackson brings to a 2014 roster with Garcon and Roberts and not on what we remember from 2013 with Robinson and Hankerson.
No. 3 ̶ Daniel Snyder is a reformed man and Hog Heaven blames the Player’s Union.
Snyder isn’t just changed. He is reformed. You can thank the salary cap sanction for a chastened owner, and for that you can blame DeMaurice Smith as much as Roger Goodell and John Mara.
I’m not convinced that Gene Upshaw would have given the union’s approval to the sanction as readily as Smith did. The owners needed the Players’ Association agreement to make legal an illegal conspiracy to collude.
The late Mr. Upshaw liked the way Snyder and Jerry Jones spent salary on players and he counted on them to make the “no cap year” genuinely without restraint on player salaries. The no cap year was Upshaw’s ace-in-the-hole to induce the owners to avoid locking players out of training camp. The owners did lock players out and got away with it because Upshaw was not around to make them pay.
Lesson learned. Snyder has been NFL-ized, as Steve Spurrier once put it. The Redskins will conform to the party line when it comes to contracts and cap room. That plays into any offer to be made to Jackson.
No. 4 ̶ Jay is Jon Gruden’s brother.
C’mon, readers. You are not that old. Turn on your Wayback Machine and recall that Jon Gruden suspended Keyshawn Johnson in 2003 for being a diva wide receiver.
Whatever happened in Philadelphia smells like Jackson’s incompatibility with Chip Kelly than anything. Jay Gruden was on brother Jon’s staff in Tampa Bay when the Keyshawn conflict went down. What he observed and the lessons he learned from it are in play.
Jay Gruden will probe for the Keyshawn factor and how he would handle it differently here. There’s a line not to be crossed. It’s best to flesh that out before signing any deals.
No. 5 ̶ The Raiders. The Raiders.
Every other team interested Jackson hint that there is a limit to what they might pay him. Except the Raiders. Oakland is thought to be highly interested in Jackson and that goes both ways. Jackson approached Oakland about trading for him when the Eagles were open to the idea.
Oakland is close to home for D.Jax. He is from LA and played ball for Cal-Berkeley. The Raiders have twice the Redskins salary cap room to work a deal.
Fortunately for the Redskins, Al Davis is dead.
Davis was as unconventional as Snyder was spendthrift (see Russell, JaMarcus). The NFL hit the Raiders with salary cap sanctions too when it backstabbed the Redskins and Cowboys, but for a far less amount. The message was heard, however.
Oakland entered the offseason with over $60 million cap room and far more needs than Washington’s. Yet, they avoided blowing the top out of the cap. Heck, they may need a deal with Jackson to reach the spending floor.
The Raiders are the biggest competitor for Jackson’s services, but like the Redskins, they’ve been NFL-ized. An offer for Jackson may not be so out of reach that the Redskins cannot be in the thick of it.
No. 6 ̶ Don’t be an April Fool.
Tomorrow is Tuesday, April 1. It would be a bad omen to sign so significant a deal on April Fool’s Day. (Yes, Hog Heaven is football superstitious.) So please, Bruce, do the deal either today, or Wednesday, April 2.