Problem with DeSean Jackson wasn’t so much a character issue as a cap issue

DeSean Jackson undoubtedly would have elevated the Chiefs' receiving corps, but he was out of their price range.

Brace Hemmelgarn/Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — So the ship has officially sailed, and the uncouth types will say the Kansas City Chiefs dodged a bullet, figuratively and literally. DeSean Jackson has joined the Washington Snyders, who have three very key things that The Andy Gang, at the moment, does not: cap room, RG III, and a chance to rub it in the Eagles’ faces at least twice a year, guaranteed.

Good on ya, mate.

Still, three years and $24 million (a reported $16 million of which is guaranteed) is a sizable investment, especially for someone who may or may not have been connected to the Crips. Although, really, that Jackson has friends with quote-unquote questionable backgrounds is a shrug to many personnel departments; running with Boy Scouts is nice, even preferable, but it’s hardly a prerequisite for service. As long as Plaxico Burress is 6-foot-6 and can jump out of the gym, some general manager is going to take a flier on him.

On March 28, ArrowheadPride.com, the popular Chiefs fan site, posted a poll that simply asked, "Should the Chiefs try to sign DeSean Jackson?" Of the 3,772 who voted, 83 percent said, "Yes."

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Hey, character counts in an NFL locker room. But only to 11. Good dude, bad dude, straight, gay, doesn’t matter. Ballers stay.

The bottom line is the standings, the end results judged in terms of black and white. The shades of gray that it took to reach the top of the mountain (or close) are morally irrelevant.

And let’s be real: The price didn’t work. Period, end of story. Not here. Not now. Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler, is a Mustang Shelby; the Chiefs of present are shopping for Fiestas.

There’s a reported $4.5 million left in cap space, draft picks yet to sign and negotiations in the works to try and keep the best quarterback on the roster, Alex Smith, and the best pass rusher, Justin Houston, in town for the long haul. With general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid sharing the cockpit, the Packers Way is the Chiefs Way: Scout well, draft smart, invest, keep your pillars and prepare to counter roster turnover with drafted depth. Free agency is treated like ice cream — best as an occasional treat, a reward, rather than a staple of the daily diet.

Granted, alleged warts and all, Jackson might well have been the cherry on top. At 27, the former Cal-Berkeley standout is better — maybe three times better — than what’s on hand at the moment. Your starters remain Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery; your top backups are Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins and Weston Dressler, a Canadian Football League import.

So, yeah, you can drive with those wheels. But chances are, you’ll be in for a shorter race than you planned.

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Which explains why the Chiefs keep swinging for a wideout — publicly, at least. Ex-Steelers burner Emmanuel Sanders was here, then he wasn’t, then he took his 4.4 speed to Denver, an effective triple whammy.

"We always talk about (how) we’re going to turn over every rock possible as we move forward here, and that’s kind of part of the process right now," Dorsey said recently. "As this plan moves forward, we’re going to continue to add competitive depth to our roster and that’s what we do every day. We come in here and we try to find the best possible players we can."

On the field, Jackson would’ve helped — there’s no debating that. In the locker room, though, who knows?

He and Reid spent five seasons together in Philly; Big Red knows the man’s pros and cons — the real truth — better than most. And yet, in the end, Reid did the best thing he felt he could do for his team at the moment: He moved on. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to do the same.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com.