Jackson, Baker eager to help young Bucs realize potential
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker had similar thoughts when it came to teams they wanted to play for.
As unrestricted free agents, the former Washington Redskins teammates had plenty of options, but chose to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they wanted a chance to play with promising young players such as quarterback Jameis Winston and Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans.
The Bucs introduced Jackson and Bakers as the newest members of the team on Saturday.
The veteran receiver and defensive tackle both spoke of trying to help Tampa Bay take the next step to the playoffs.
''As far as receivers I've played with in the past, I feel like I've played with some pretty good receivers,'' Jackson said, adding he also considered signing with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
''I don't think I've ever played with a Mike Evans. I'm just intrigued man, to go out on the field, to have a quarterback like Jameis that wants to throw deep,'' Jackson added. ''To have another guy like Mike on the other side. ... You've got a big guy who's kind of fast, you've got a smaller guy that's very fast.''
Jackson then turned his attention to Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who calls plays for the offense.
''This guy right here, I know he's licking his chops to get it going,''Jackson added. ''I am too, though.''
Evans made his first Pro Bowl in 2016 with career highs in catches (96) and yards (1,312), while matching a career best with 12 touchdowns.
The Bucs are coming off their first winning season in six years, but have not made the playoffs since 2007.
When the 2016 season ended, Koetter spoke of needing to get more playmakers on the field. The Bucs believe they have one in Jackson, who led the NFL in average yards per catch last season.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Jackson has had five seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving and another two with more than 900 yards.
In nine seasons with the Eagles and Redskins, he's led the league in yards-per-reception three times and has 498 catches for 8,819 yards and 46 touchdowns.
Defensively the Bucs wanted to get bigger in the middle. At 6-foot-2, 320 pounds, Baker fills the bill and he's excited about having a chance to play alongside Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy.
''McCoy is very rare, he's one of the best in the league. (I've) never really had that opportunity to play with an elite defensive tackle,'' Baker said. ''I'm licking my chops because it's like, `Who are you guys going to pick to double?'''
Baker has played in 78 games with 42 starts with the Redskins, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. He has 181 tackles (26 for losses) and 11+ sacks.
Meanwhile, the Bucs announced the signing Saturday of former Dallas Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox. They also re-signed defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.
Wilcox was a third-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 2013 and can play both free and strong safety.
Siliga appeared in six games for Tampa Bay last season after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks.
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL