will continue to be the NFC East's problem. (Brian Garfinkel/AP)
Chip Kelly may not have wanted receiver DeSean Jackson to be part of his Philadelphia Eagles anymore, but Kelly and the rest of the NFC East will continue to deal with Jackson on a regular basis. As first reported by Diana Marie Russini of NBC News 4 Washington and soon confirmed thereafter by Jackson's PR firm, the former Eagles receiver has agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter and NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the deal is three years in length, and he'll sign it tomorrow morning. The San Francisco 49ers made a late push for Jackson's services, but in the end, it was the Redskins who bagged Jackson after wining and dining him on Tuesday. Sports attorney Darren Heitner reports that the deal is for $24 million, with $16 million guaranteed.
Jackson, selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft out of Cal by the Eagles, amassed 356 catches for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns in his six-year Philadelphia tenure, and racked up career highs in receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,332) in 2013, his first season in Kelly's offense. But the team's concerns about Jackson's alleged off-field activities, and a contract signed in 2012 that would have paid Jackson $10.7 million in 2014, led to his release on March 28.
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After his release, several teams got in the running for Jackson -- the 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs showed varying levels of interest. But when Jackson arrived at Redskins Park on Monday night to have dinner with head coach Jay Gruden and other members of the coaching staff, and later spent time with receiver Pierre Garcon and cornerback DeAngelo Hall, that was the beginning of what apparently turned into a beautiful friendship.
Now, it will be Gruden's team that will have to deal with Jackson's mixture of tantalizing talent and his reputation as an individual with a divisive locker room influence and possible gang affiliations. According to a story published by NJ.com the same day that Jackson was released, the Eagles couldn't get any trade value for Jackson because other teams were concerned about his overall attitude, missed meetings, and reported involvement with L.A. gang members. Jackson refuted those allegations in a statement.
"I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field," he said in part. "I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless."
At the owners meetings in Orlando last week, Kelly talked about Jackson's future with the team, and the need to do what was best for the organization. And while he was complimentary regarding Jackson's overall abilities, Kelly made it sound as if other receivers could make it work just as well in his system.
"His speed, his ability to separate and make plays is key," Kelly said. "That’s part of everything you do on offense. People want to put you in man-to-man coverage. We saw that more of that than other people. Having guys who can get open versus man coverage is a key deal. Whether it’s Coop [Riley Cooper] or Mac [Jeremy Maclin] or DeSean or whomever. I think that’s the one thing we know as a group going in, one-on-one coverage is a big deal for us. It is a big deal in this league. I don’t have the numbers, but people probably played us more man than most teams in the league. we’re always looking for guys who can exploit that matchup."
Kelly's offense will now find out if it can happen without Jackson. And Billy Davis' defense will be tasked with shutting down that matchup twice a season.