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With DeSean Jackson, the Buccaneers Finally Get Their Deep Threat

No one in Tampa Bay had a reception of 50 yards or more in 2016, and Jackson will solve that problem on day one

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Deal

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to sign DeSean Jackson. The terms have yet to be released.

The Appeal

Jackson may be 30, but he’s still a speedster capable of getting open downfield. Last season, he led the league in yards per reception (17.9) for the third time in his career. Also:

His four receptions of 50-plus yards last year were tied for second in the league. Look at how far ahead of the safety he is on this 80-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins. He has to slow down and fade to the right, and the defender still can’t catch him.

The Fit

Jackson should provide an excellent complement to the budding battery of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Evans has posted 1,000 yards receiving in each of his three professional seasons, and he finished fourth in the league last year with 1,321. At 6-foot-5, his strengths are his size and his ability to reach any ball that comes remotely near his area. He’s typically not beating people downfield, and, last year, nobody really provided a second target capable of drawing safety attention away from him. At one point, that could have been Vincent Jackson, but he’s 34 and was hurt for much of last season. The Bucs player with the second-most receiving yards in 2016 was tight end Cameron Brate, and third was wide receiver Adam Humphries, who you might be hearing of for the first time right now. Fourth? Russell Shepard, who is really a special teamer.

The result: The Bucs were the only team with zero 50-yard plays. Remember how Jackson has more of those than any player in the past five years? That could be useful!

The Verdict

Jackson may be that missing tool the Buccaneers needed to complete their Jameis Winston Franchise Quarterback set they bought from Ikea. This is a huge upgrade in the “second wide receiver named Jackson” category, and it gives Winston more weapons than he’s ever had. The Bucs went 9–7 and nearly made the playoffs in Winston’s second season, and now the hope will be that Jackson gives the Tampa Bay offense the diversity needed to make a postseason push for the first time in Winston and Evans’s careers.

Also, Jackson leaves behind a depleted Washington franchise that appears to be decomposing. Nobody knows what the hell is happening with Kirk Cousins, but even if the team does bring him back, he won’t have anybody to throw to: Wednesday, the team lost Pierre Garcon; now they’re losing Jackson. Now would be a good time for Washington’s GM to right the ship; unfortunately, he’s more likely to be fired than to make a big move.

Jackson chose wisely when picking Tampa Bay, but he chose especially wisely to get out of Washington.