The Los Angeles Rams made a low-risk move this week by signing wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson comes to the Rams from the Philadelphia Eagles where he only played in eight games over a two stretch. Jourdan Rodrigue reported that the Rams signed Jackson to a base salary of just $2.75 million.
Breakdown of the DeSean Jackson contract, per source: $2.75 million base
– $103,000 incentive for each game on active game day roster
– $1.25 million incentive if he plays 50% of offensive snaps "and team improves"
– Up to $1 million playoff incentives
– Cap number is $3.26M
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) March 26, 2021
It isn’t a flashy signing, but Jackson brings exactly what the Los Angeles Rams need on offense. Sean McVay and Les Snead have said how they wanted to add speed on offense. Well, Jackson brings exactly that. With experience under McVay while in Washington, Jackson is also familiar with the offense and what will be asked of him.
The biggest question for Jackson isn’t whether or not he can play. After missing eight consecutive games last season, on Jackson’s first reception back, he went 81-yards for a touchdown. DeSean Jackson can still do what DeSean Jackson does best.
The biggest question is whether or not Jackson can remain healthy. He’s played just eight games over the last two years while being asked to be a top two wide receiver in Philadelphia. Jackson hasn’t played a full season since 2013. That is concerning. However, unlike with the Eagles, Jackson isn’t going to have to be the top wide receiver. In fact, he won’t even be asked to be the second wide receiver. Those spots will be reserved for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
In the Los Angeles Rams wide receiver room, nothing really changes. Woods and Kupp are still the main guys. Jackson just brings another element that McVay can utilize and an element that was lacking on the offense last season.
As a rotational third or fourth wide receiver who can get deep should allow Jackson to excel. He won’t be asked to play 30 or 40 snaps a game. Instead it might be 10-15. Limiting his snaps should hopefully limit his opportunities to get hurt.
While prorating Jackson’s stats over the last two seasons with the Eagles into a full 16-game season doesn’t make sense due to his injury history. Doing so will show that Jackson can play. If you take his stats from the last two season and put them over 16 games, Jackson would have 46 receptions for 790 yards.
It’s not as if Jackson is washed up. He had 6 receptions for 64 yards last season against the Rams’ top secondary while playing with one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in Carson Wentz last year.
It’s important to tamper Jackson’s expectations. Is he going to make a pro bowl for the fourth time in his career? Probably not. Is he going to be able to stretch the field and make an impact? Definitely. The Rams drafted Josh Reynolds to be a vertical threat and be a physical presence in their wide receiver room. Unfortunately, Reynolds had one 40 yard reception in four seasons and despite being 6’3, never turned into a downfield physical threat or threat in the red zone.
Jackson is listed at 5’10 and has the ability to go up and get the ball and his tracking skills are among the best in the league. If healthy, and that is a big if, Jackson is still a top-5 deep threat wide receiver in the NFL.
It’s unrealistic to think that Jackson is going to play all 16 games. There’s a reason that the Rams filled his contract with incentives. However, a similar final season like Clay Matthews had with the Rams could be realistic. We could see the old DeSean Jackson for 6-8 games before he gets hurt. He could then miss 4-6 games in the middle of the year and then be ready for a potential playoff run at the end of the season.
To refresh memories Matthews had eight sacks in 13 games with the Rams in 2019 – his most since 2014.
Last season, Josh Reynolds had 618 yards on 52 reception. With Van Jefferson hopefully getting a larger role as well, it seems unlikely for Jackson to hit that mark. However, 30 receptions and 500 yards? That seems more than achievable for a receiver like Jackson in his role in McVay’s offense.
The Rams aren’t paying Jackson a lot of money. However, if he stay healthy, this has a chance to be a true bargain signing. Jackson has playoff experience. He’ll be looking to win a Super Bowl before he retires. For the first time in his career, he’s back home in California. It’s time for the DeSean Jackson show.