In the midst of NFL free agency, the Rams added veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite the sure depth at the position this offseason, however, they went with an aging, injury-prone option.
Picking up DeSean Jackson should have been a last-ditch effort to find a speed guy to serve as a serious threat for Matthew Stafford. Instead, it was the first move the Rams made after letting exceptional defensive talent walk away.
We don’t know his contract specifics yet other than it’s a year that will keep his cap hit low. Don’t get me wrong there. Jackson’s the best option if we’re talking about adding a serious threat for the absolute bare minimum.
The problem is he’s the absolute bare minimum in this year’s free agency. Other mid-level names weren’t going to draw much attention the Rams could have added.
Nelson Agholor would have been a better signing after his resurgence with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Both Agholor and Jackson are former Eagles the only difference is Jackson isn’t going to have a resurgence after leaving Philadelphia. Jackson is 34 years old and injury-prone. He spent most of the last three seasons with an injury. He’s recently injured his Ankle, Hamstring, Abdomen, Achilles, and Thumb.
Jackson only played eight games in the last two seasons. He had a career-high 90% catch percentage in 2019. However, that comes with only three games and 10 targets. Last season he managed five games and 26 targets but could only bring in a little more than half of them.
Does Jackson still have the capability to be a deep ball threat? Yes. In the last two seasons, he went for 17.7 yards per reception in 2019 and 16.9 in 2020. He even has a career average of 17.4 yards per game. There are still major questions surrounding him.
The first and probably the most important one is about it his health and can he stay healthy. Sports Injury Predictor gives Jackson a 99% chance he gets injured at some point next season, a 25% chance he’ll get injured during each game, and projected he’ll miss 12.6 games. The next is the Rams’ plans to use him.
ESPN reported that Josh Reynolds signed with the Tennessee Titans and leaves major questions in the air about what the receiver depth will be in 2021. The best-case scenario for the Rams with Jackson was extending Reynolds and focus Jackson mostly on punt and kickoff return and throw him in when they need a deep route.
This plan comes with problems as if you only use Jackson to run deep routes, then the offense becomes predictable. However, this is the best option to get Jackson through a full season and into the playoffs in terms of durability.
This still could be the case with Van Jefferson stepping into Reynolds No. 3 spot, but it depends on the size of Jackson’s contract. A larger contract for the year would suggest the Rams’ intentions to use him as the No. 3 receiver over Jefferson.
The more Jackson plays, the greater his chance he gets injured. And at 34 and his injury history, it’s not a question of if but when.
Hopefully, the Rams included a per-game roster bonus in the contract to keep Jackson’s cap hit even lower.
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