Here’s the thing about mercurial receivers.
Yes, they tend to wear out their welcome after a few short seasons. They’re a public relations nuisance. They create unnecessary drama for a team. They usually create a wedge in the dressing room. They’re polarizing figures.
But they’re also asked to move the chains and get little of the glory. Most of that goes to the man throwing the ball.
They get an inch and try to take a yard. That’s what they’re asked to do on the field and so if they’re really good at it there, why would it not translate off the field.
They want more money, more of the spotlight, more acclaim.
Of the best receivers in recent times, only a handful are not considered to be prime-time divas.
Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Brandon Marshall. Check. Divas.
Charles Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson are notable exceptions.
Josh Gordon, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas. They’re young and still forming their NFL personas.
Which brings us to DeSean Jackson. The former Eagle definitely flies with the first group, not in accomplishments, but certainly in attitude. Even his teammate, Jeremy Maclin, classified his sudden divorce from the Philadelphia Eagles as a “T.O.” type situation.
Until Eagles coach Chip Kelly speaks on the matter, we won’t know what made the club decide that Jackson was not worth holding on to, even as a trading chip.
Whether it’s off-the field issues, team issues, a frosty relationship with the coach, or even Jackson’s alleged ties to L.A. gangs, allegations which the receiver denied.
What we do know is that he wouldn’t be lining up for the Eagles and as a Cowboys fan with little to cheer about, that was about as good a news as we were going to receive ahead of the draft.
If we can’t make our team stronger, we can certainly revel in the misery of our opponents. Especially Philly.
I’m talking to you Eagle fans, the ones who cheered Michael Irvin’s career-ending injury.
But now we get word that Jackson is set to sign as a free agent with Washington. Yes, the Redskins are a mess and Robert Griffin III has his own self-gratifying issues to deal with but the mere presence of Jackson on that offence would take it to another level.
Kelly may be right and Jackson may be headed down a dark, ugly tunnel, the kind of dark path taken by Aaron Hernandez and Rae Carruth.
Or Kelly may have done Jackson a favour by giving him the wakeup call he needed at the cost of his franchise.
Whatever the reasoning, it’s hard not to think that Jackson should have his helmet strapped on tight for the next couple of seasons.
Remember Owens? He caught 166 balls for more than 2,500 yards and 28 TDs in his first two seasons with the Cowboys – after getting dumped by Philly.
Jackson has a different skill set than Owens and is not of the same Hall of Fame calibre receiver but he is one of the league’s best at the moment. He’s also young and has a lot to prove.
Motivated receivers usually fare well in the short-term, which is why if he signs with Washington, the Skins will be a lot less fun to play against.
Aside from a having a terrible offensive line and a defence that gave the Cowboys a run for their money as the league’s worst, the Redskins were dying for a receiver who could get separation from defenders.
They found one during the season in tight end Jordan Reed, only to have him suffer a concussion. Pierre Garcon is better suited as a No. 2 receiver, which is where he would land should Jackson sign, thereby transforming the Redskins offence from plodding to dangerous.
The attitude may grate of teammates but you can't argue with performance. Which is why Bill Belichick dealt for Randy Moss and held him in check for a couple of seasons. Look at Marshall in Chicago after he took his talents to South Beach.
As long as he stays on the straight and narrow, Jackson has a chance to be a playmaker. Here's hoping he doesn't do it in Washington.