DeSean Jackson had the best year of his career in 2013, catching 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. This season could be even better, as Jackson signed a three-year, $24-million deal with the Redskins on Tuesday, giving Robert Griffin III a new weapon and Pierre Garcon a new running mate.
The Eagles clearly had their reasons for cutting the talented 27-year-old receiver, none of which are our concern here, but they probably would have preferred if he found a new home outside their division, though. Washington had an extremely disappointing season last year year, but the pieces are in place -- especially on offense -- for the team to bounce back next year. Jackson is now a huge part of that.
There's no truth to the rumor that new coach Jay Gruden did backflips when the team signed Jackson, but you could understand if he did. Jackson's ability to stretch the field rounds out what could be one of the league's most dangerous offenses in 2014. No receiver has caught more passes of at least 40 yards than Jackson since he entered the league. For all his struggles last year, Griffin still throws a beautiful deep ball. It's easy to see how these two will click together. Griffin's ability to freelance and keep plays alive should be a boon for Jackson as well, as his speed makes him especially dangerous on plays that break down.
Jackson thrived in Chip Kelly's system in Philadelphia, but he lacked a teammate opposite him who could force defenses to be honest. We've seen how having two dynamic receivers can open up the field in today's pass-happy NFL. Duos like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Chicago and Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in Denver were absolute nightmares for opposing defenses last year. Jackson and Garcon now form one of the most imposing tandems in the NFL, and with Decker plying his trade in New York, will likely enter the season trailing only Marshall and Jeffery for the NFL's tag-team receiver championship belts. Neither may see the targets they did last season, but both will benefit from the presence of the other. Expect both to be top-15 receivers next year.
Of course, that also means great things for Griffin. His second season in the NFL was a huge letdown after he led the Redskins to the playoffs in 2012, and he missed three games at the end of the season due to Mike Shanahan's whims. With Jackson now at his disposal and Shanahan out of town, you can bet on an uptick in touchdowns and a revival of the big plays that marked his rookie year. Don't underestimate the trickle-down effect another big-play receiver will have, as well. Teaming Jackson with Garcon, as well as Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris, gives Griffin and the Redskins four very strong options at the skill positions. With all the talent around Griffin, chances are he won't be forced to scramble quite as often as he had to in both 2012 and 2013. The fewer hits he takes, the better, and I'm willing to bet he takes the fewest he has in any season in his career in 2014. We've already seen him beset by injury, and the less scrambling he does, the greater his chances are of making it through the season unscathed. There are more startable options at quarterback than ever before, but Griffin should easily be taken inside the top 10 at the position. As we get closer to fantasy football draft season, he could push up even higher.
There are no losers in Washington as a result of this deal. The offense was missing a piece that was holding everyone back individually. Not only should Jackson succeed in the nation's capital, he should make everyone around him better by improving the offense as a whole.