DeSean Jackson is a classic case of risk versus reward

Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.com

There’s always a tipping point in the NFL , a moment when your on-field production is outweighed by something else and it’s time to cut bait. Sometimes, it’s a contract or an age issue, sometimes players just don’t fit with a coach’s vision for the future. And then there’s times when your “off-field baggage” becomes an issue.

I don’t know DeSean Jackson any more or less than I knew Aaron Hernandez. That is to say I don’t know him at all beyond his electrifying touchdowns and those times he made Giants fans cry.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Is adding WR DeSean Jackson the right move for a Jets team needing offensive improvement?

But once Jackson’s name was mentioned alongside that of the former Patriots tight end Friday afternoon, in an article asserting Jackson’s alleged gang ties, it was only a matter of time before Jackson hit the waiver wire.

The Eagles had been shopping Jackson for weeks, looking to unload a player coming off a career year in the height of his prime. But after the team came up short in talks at the owners meetings, Jackson and coach Chip Kelly appeared to patch things up — until Jackson was suddenly a troublemaker with alleged gang ties and connection to multiple murders.

Hernandez has become the NFL’s Candyman, except you need only say his name once to scare the living daylights out of your fan base. And in a PR-conscious world where a former Pro Bowler is awaiting trial for murder while being connected to at least two others, NFL teams can hardly suffer the trials and tribulations that come with a player who hangs with the “wrong crowd.”

Jackson, for his part, has denied any alleged connections and PFT’s Mike Florio, along with several others, have pointed out the suspicious timing of the NJ.com article revealing Jackson’s connections. I’m not one to speak on whether they’re true or false. To be honest, Santonio Holmes’ annoying first-down gesture bothers me far more than any alleged gang sign.

The NFL is not a cookie-cutter league. It’s an industry whose workforce subsists largely of 20-somethings from underprivileged areas – areas where organized (and unorganized) crime exists and sometimes control the comings and goings of the neighborhood. I don’t pretend to know anything about living in these worlds or the connections and potential friendships that follow these players from their time as high schoolers to multi-millionaire professional athletes.

I do know, however, that there are likely players with ties or friends just as troubling as Jackson or Hernandez’s littered throughout the NFL. It’s certainly worth noting that Jackson’s connections were fit to print at a time when he had also outlived his usefulness in Philadelphia.

The truth is that troubled past or not, Jackson is still a highly-effective player and the NFL is still a business. Coaches and general managers are fired based off how many wins they have, not how many choir boys they have signed. The Jets, like any other NFL team looking to sign Jackson, should do beyond due diligence before even approaching Jackson’s agent to discuss contract specifics.

Say what you will about the type of “environment” Chip Kelly wants to create in Philly, but the No. 1 priority in Kelly’s world is winning. And until now, Jackson was part of that culture. Don’t think for a second in a post-Hernandez world the Eagles weren’t aware of Jackson’s issues or connections, especially considering, as the NJ.com article pointed out, they’d been contacted by law enforcement previously. They knew the pros and cons of paying Jackson to be a part of their plan and until now, the touchdowns and big plays outweighed any alleged warning/gang signs.

For John Idzik, he must weigh the same issues. What is Jackson like in the building? How will he impact the wide receiver group? How much realistic impact can he have in an offense where the Jets may only throw the ball 45 percent of the time? And most importantly, what is the price point at which Idzik and Jackson’s camp can come to terms?

Make no mistake, this is about money. If Jackson were making $7 million in 2014 instead of $11 million, he may still be an Eagle. But Kelly believes – and Riley Cooper proves – that his offense can make almost anyone a receiving threat.

But the Jets don’t have Chip Kelly. Thankfully, they do have Jackson’s former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who was able to use Jackson pretty efficiently during his time in Philadelphia. They also have linebackers coach Bobby April, who spent two years in Philly with Jackson and can help speak to what kind of teammate Jackson was and would be.

The Jets have the resources to determine whether Jackson would fit in their building and a very clear need for a player of Jackson’s position and ability. And there are rumblings Jackson may have to settle for a one- to two-year deal after Friday’s report, which would fit nicely into Idzik’s long-term vision for this franchise without forcing the Jets to commit long term.

No one’s going to tell you DeSean Jackson is a model citizen, but that doesn’t mean he’s the next Aaron Hernandez, either. This is a player that can help this team immediately, while giving Idzik flexibility in the draft to address other needs in higher rounds.

This isn’t about making a splash or breaking the pattern or making headlines.  This is about taking a calculated risk on a dynamic player with some potential red flags. For a team who could trot out David Nelson as a starting receiver in September, it sure seems like it is worth the risk.




246 comments
Floyd Toucanet
Floyd Toucanet

The guy who would get picked last in a special needs schoolyard now writes about sports. Makes sense.

Floyd Toucanet
Floyd Toucanet

The Jets Blog has finally found a writer that make Mehta and Cimini look like skilled writers.

Floyd Toucanet
Floyd Toucanet

I really hope this guy isn't paid to write. Hemingway and Bukowski are throwing up in their graves.

Floyd Toucanet
Floyd Toucanet

Corey,


You should stick to subjects you know about, like greasy cheeseburgers and horrible shirts and ties.

mangles79
mangles79

@JetsTalkLine the risk factor might be a decision not to peruse him with the more conservative idzik

robbieb
robbieb

I hate the fact that we are once looking in the draft for a #1(b) starting CB to be fed to the wolves.  Its going to be a frustrating season with long completions and defensive holding calls.  My rant is mostly based off of Wilson and DMill getting thrown in and exposed their rookie season like a platoon player in baseball starting everyday.  My concern is that we will go down by more than 1 score and then Geno/Vick will have to press which will expose Geno like it did in the Carolina game after he played a great first half.  You can't silo a position.  A strong secondary can help out your QB indirectly, sometimes more than an offensive weapon.  I just wish Jets brass would think like this.  

MeAtBaLLPaRmX
MeAtBaLLPaRmX

The more I think about it, the more I don't want him. If no trade back in the first, take OBJ and Niklas first two rounds. Sign vet corner. Let's. Go

eric88
eric88

Different day same sh it.  Jets interested in another guy they won't get and Jerry Mejia got hurt. Are we REALLY going to play 2014 season 30 Million under the Cap?

ww85
ww85

I've read a lot about DJAX today and I am more in favor of bringing him in than I was earlier. He's a true #1 and will open up the underneath game MM needs to run his offense properly. He also frees up the draft and allows us to go CB in round 1. Idzik probably won't do it, but I hope he at least gets involved in the process.

jvsvn
jvsvn

Maybe the Jets sign him if the price is right. But somehow I don't see it. It would be against the trend of everything Idzik has done for two years now.  Especially with an WR loaded draft coming up. My guess is that there is going to be at least one team that thinks they are one piece away that will be willing to give Jackson big money. Sort of like what Seattle did with Harvin last year. I'm guessing it's going to be the Cowboys. I could definitely see Jerry Jones salivating about teaming Jackson with Dez Bryant in the hope of redeeming the Romo signing. 

gt73
gt73

I've got a feeling the Jets were considering a D-Jax signing even as they finalized the Michael Vick contract. It makes too much sense. They've got the money and badly need the talent. Is he really going to be that much more of a distraction than Ellis? Go get 'em.

jenkins
jenkins

Potential red flags? The flags have already matured.

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

Bent, based on his production relative to other WR, what should Jackson's market be? How much money should the Jets be willing to spend.  

DrJonathanReefer
DrJonathanReefer

since when did chip Kelly become this football guru.


dude been in the NFL 1 year. His opinion means nothing to me at this point in time.


If KC and the Jets are interested, that should tell you all you need to know.


His old HC and OC both want him.

Bent
Bent moderator

Poor Mark Sanchez.  He hasn't been in Philly five minutes and they're already taking away his "pieces".

marcus81
marcus81

it just seems too risky, if he did get in trouble it would demoralize the team, Rex doesn't run the team like BB keeping things in house.

Pat d
Pat d

I see no reason to trade back. Get Evans or Lee.

hazard2012
hazard2012

@ww85  


Have no idea how this will unfold, but it will be interesting to see if Idzik actively pursues DJax.   The Jets clearly need his game, and it would give them a lot more flexibility in how they approach draft.   If you look at the needs vs talent pool, and where the Jets pick, perhaps the worst move they can make is to pick a WR first. Having DJax removes that pressure.    

supert
supert

@jvsvn  The Cowboys couldn't even afford to bring back DeMarcus Ware there is no way they're signing Jackson.

Pat d
Pat d

The Eagles couldn't get a 7th round pick for DJax. Hopefully that is a wake up call for him. Marty coached him for 5 years. So if the Jets do get him Marty must have endorsed him. If we don't get him I will take that as Marty doesn't 't want anything to do with him. And that is good enough for me.

lucas
lucas

Wow!!!! Tell em' how you feel D. Ward! A well articulated rant, I must say...

Bent
Bent moderator

@Paul Samuels  Well, he was earning about $10m per year and wanted slightly more than that.  The fact they didn't manage to trade him suggests most of the interested teams were hoping to pay slightly less, but I don't know that he'll end up with much less than he was already on.  I'd be surprised if the contract he ended up with is smaller than Eric Decker's (5/36) ... although that in itself was smaller than I expected.


The guaranteed money is the big thing.  I'd expect him to command about $15m in guarantees and he'd probably prefer a 3/24 deal with 15m in guarantees to a 2/22 deal with 12m guaranteed.


I'm just guessing here though.

Pat d
Pat d

The Jets and KC wouldn't give up a 7th round draft pick. That is what is telling. If KC and the Jets really wanted him he would already be on the team.

Pat d
Pat d

Chip Kelley knows offense. He has a better offensive history than the NY Jets.

Monty
Monty

I hope woody makes this happen

__fense
__fense

@DrJonathanReefer  Plus, college coaches are notorious for not liking guys that are bigger names than they are. Remember all the 'Schiano Men'? Him getting interest from former coaches tells you all you need to know.

McGeorge
McGeorge

@Bent  I am glad Sanchez is gone, but I wish him well.  I hope he can do ok (but not great) for another team.

He never ran his mouth.  He just wasn't that good.

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

@Bent  Ha! Gotta love it! Sanchez is far from poor though. That guy is a money making machine and he only plays for green.

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

@marcus81  The Jets handled Braylon decently, so why couldn't Rex do the same with Jackson? 

__fense
__fense

@marcus81  BB had an actual gang member who actually killed people on his team. Rex not being like him a boon for the franchise.

MeAtBaLLPaRmX
MeAtBaLLPaRmX

Evans or Ebron won't be there and I don't like Lee. OBJ or Cooks will be. I want more high picks in this deep draft, so that's why I wouldn't mind trading back.

ww85
ww85

Well, MM might want him, but the price may be too high

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

@Bent @Paul Samuels  Okay, so that doesn't sound so unreasonable.  Decker signed on for $15 million guareented, so perhaps D-Jax would be okay with the same.   

marcus81
marcus81

@Paul Samuels @marcus81 Braylon was on his final warning and could not afford to mess up, and when he did mess up he did not get his payday, Braylon was my favorite Jets receiver of recent years

Pat d
Pat d

Lee is better than Cooks or ODB

MeAtBaLLPaRmX
MeAtBaLLPaRmX

We have eleven other picks, yes, but I'd rather have four picks instead of three in the first three rounds, considering there is first round talent well into the third.

Kirk Michael
Kirk Michael

@MeAtBaLLPaRmX If we get Jax then draft Amaro with 1st pick. After that a guard to compete.Third we need a little speedy game breaker at rb.Then maybe a corner o r safety then depth from there. If we got Jax amaro n traded for Joesph  were readry to contend wit these punks!!!!!

Kirk Michael
Kirk Michael

@MeAtBaLLPaRmX If we didt get desean we need odb. we don't need more picks we have 11. There comes a pt wen theres enough n were good with picks. I think quality not quantity.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Tequila Joe @Bent  Same way I did before.  He's very talented but I have reservations due to off-field stuff.