When the Philadelphia Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson last Friday, a wave of speculation swept over the NFL.
Where would he land? Carolina? Washington? Buffalo? Or how about Kansas City, where his former head coach, Andy Reid, is one of his biggest fans?
Yet after a few days of smoke, it now appears as if the Oakland Raiders may be the front-runner to sign the playmaking wide receiver from Cal.
Though the Redskins reportedly will play host to Jackson Monday for a visit with team officials, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com wrote Sunday that the Raiders appear to be “the frontrunners” for Jackson’s talents.
“Prior to his release, Jackson put the word out to the Raiders of his interest in joining the organization, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via sources involved in the situation,” wrote Wesseling. “The Raiders were Jackson’s favorite team growing up, per Rapoport. Oakland also is close to the wide receiver’s Bay Area roots at Cal. The interest is mutual. Rapoport hears the Raiders have been doing research on Jackson for more than a week.”
Wesseling says the Redskins have some fine things to offer Jackson, however, including $7 million of cap space that would allow them to get creative for 2014 and a chance to play with young quarterback Robert Griffin III. Also, he says, Washington owner Dan Snyder has “an affinity for splash moves.”
Wesseling also believes the Bills (also with lots of salary-cap room) will be a strong contender for the wideout who was let go, apparently for concerns the team had about off-the-field issues. The 49ers, Jets, Panthers, Seahawks and Patriots also have been linked to Jackson, but either Jackson isn’t so much interested in them, or those teams don’t have the flexibility to offer him what he wants. Wesseling reports the Chiefs – despite Reid’s love of Jackson – also are out of the hunt.
The Raiders, however, could take a big step forward by adding a playmaker of Jackson’s caliber to an offense that already has added Maurice Jones-Drew and also has the fifth pick in the draft.
Raiders safety Charles Woodson, in fact, is cheering for his team to add Jackson to its talent pool.
“I’ve watched this guy, and what he is, is a dynamic football player,” Woodson told radio station 95.7 The Game on Friday. “What they’re talking (about) as far as off-the-field stuff, I have no clue about. The team would have to do their homework as far as that’s concerned.
“But when you talk about bringing in a guy as talented as he is, and you have that opportunity, I think you have to take a shot at it. And I think where we area as a team, we need all the playmakers we can have, and adding that guy would definitely help take us to the next level.”
And, with the salary-cap space available on the Raiders, with a new quarterback in Matt Schaub and Jackson’s roots as a Raider fan it appears the signing of Jackson – who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine TDs in 2013 – is realistic.
It would be a huge step forward for the Oakland offense.