With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon slated for free agency, what should the Washington Redskins look to do with the pair of wide receivers?
The Washington Redskins as you know them could look vastly different in 2017. Aside from free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, Washington has some significant decisions to make regarding other free agents, too. Specifically, what does the team do with free-agent wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson?
Could the Redskins bring both back, or is this a decision of prioritizing Jackson’s speed and game-breaking ability over the tough, dependable and reliable Garcon? Or maybe the decision is as simple as letting both players walk from the nation’s capital.
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According to Brian McNally of CBS DC, the team has yet to reach out to either player. While that may sound alarming to Redskins fans, it’s common around the NFL. Negotiations generally pick up at the NFL Scouting Combine after agents and executives meet to informally discuss players and contracts. At that time, teams get a better feel for what kind of interest a player will receive on the open market and negotiations pick up. The Combine begins on Feb. 28 and free agency opens on March 9.
That’s a small window to get something done, but certainly very possible. Washington has a ton of salary-cap space and can create additional room with the release of oft-injured defensive back DeAngelo Hall. Per Spotrac, the Redskins currently have over $63 million dollars in cap room. The Redskins could save over $4 million more with the release of Hall.
With all of that room and potential for a bit more, it makes sense Washington would make a strong attempt at signing at least one of the talented veteran receivers, right? Both players are coming off strong seasons in D.C. Garcon caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards and three scores in 2016. It was his second 1,000-yard season since coming to Washington back in 2012.
Jackson, meanwhile, caught 56 balls for 1,005 yards, averaging almost 18 yards per reception. In three years with Washington, Jackson has gone over the 1,000-yard mark on two occasions. In two of his three years with the Redskins, Jackson led the NFL in yards per reception. He is the ideal player that teams look for to take the lid off the defense.
With free agency looming, both players have expressed a desire to remain with the Redskins. Garcon went on the NFL Network after the season had ended wearing a Redskins hoodie and has mentioned several times he wants to remain with Washington. Just don’t call him a possession receiver.
Jackson, well-known for spending his offseason working out in his native California, has been a fixture in Ashburn since the season ended. Just last week, he went on team-owned television show, Redskins Nation, and expressed a strong desire to remain in D.C.
The Redskins were a dynamic offense in both 2015 and 2016. Both Jackson and Garcon contributed to that. Also, both receivers are now over 30. Are the Redskins afraid to pay for Jackson and his speed on a multi-year deal? Jackson takes incredible care of himself and shows no signs of slowing down. However, it is inevitable at some point that his tools will diminish, thus complicating a decision a bout his long-term future.
As for Garcon, his game should age well. He’ll be 31 when the season begins. Garcon, entering his 10th season in the league, is one of the more reliable receivers in the league. He does everything well and is a player the front office seemingly would want to keep around as the Redskins continue to try and change a culture that’s been bad for over two decades. Garcon makes every tough catch, is a first-down machine and an outstanding blocker. He can still get deep, too.
The first order of business for Washington is getting Cousins taken care of, but the Redskins can’t lose sight of their receivers, specifically Garcon. Neither Jackson nor Garcon is taking a hometown discount and both players should have a nice market for their services. If the Redskins want to keep one—or both—they better get to work. The offense will take a major step backward in 2017 if both receivers are elsewhere.
No one knows where Josh Doctson stands after the rookie missed the majority of his first season in the league. And, for as good as Jordan Reed is, the oft-injured tight end will miss games. Jamison Crowder is dynamic in the slot, but that’s it. Outside of these three, the Redskins have a lot of youth and inexperience at the position.
Jackson, who is much more durable than he is given credit for, has a skill no one else in the league has. His ability to get deep and track the ball is unparalleled.
Just look at the adjustment DJax has to make here. Cousins throws it too far outside the hashmark for a post route, DJax gets it anyway pic.twitter.com/Z14dFyO8tk
Even when Jackson doesn’t catch the ball, he impacts the game. He opens things up underneath for Reed and Crowder.
But Garcon’s dependability is what this team needs. It’s what Kirk Cousins needs. Yes, losing Jackson will hurt the team, but if this is a either-or situation, the Redskins must choose Garcon. This is a franchise that needs stability and Garcon can help provide that.
In a perfect world, the Redskins would bring both players back. That seems like a long shot with all of the issues on defense. So, Washington must choose wisely. And Garcon is the one free agent, outside of Cousins, this team cannot afford to lose. However, time is ticking. The Redskins better get to the negotiating table or they could lose both and take a major step backward in 2017.