The New England Patriots would be wise to let another NFL team deal with DeSean Jackson.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the team was duped by Aaron Hernandez after the former tight end was charged with murder last summer. No one would be duped by Jackson’s reported gang ties after NJ.com’s investigative report on the former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver.
It’s unfair to compare Jackson to Hernandez, but this is about perception. The Patriots’ name already was tarnished last offseason, and that forces them to be more cautious, even if it means passing on an obviously talented player.
The Patriots would look careless if they signed Jackson after Kraft said this week during the NFL Annual Meeting that the team goes through a “vetting” process with their new signings. NJ.com did the vetting for the Patriots this time.
Jackson has ties to the Crips, NJ.com reported. He posted Instagram photos of purported gang member Theron Shakir, who was charged with murder in 2010. The report said there is no evidence that Jackson is a member of the Crips, though he did flash a gang sign last season when the Eagles were playing the Washington Redskins. Jackson also said in a statement after his release by the Eagles that he’s not a member of a gang, but reported ties alone should keep the Patriots away.
There’s no doubt that Jackson is a great football player. And another team likely will sign him despite his reported ties, but it’s too soon for the Patriots to make that move. Not every player who signs with the Patriots is going to have perfect character, and even if reports of Jackson’s gang ties are not true, New England can’t take that risk.
It’s possible head coach Bill Belichick would have taken a risk on Jackson before the Hernandez situation, but if Kraft said the Patriots wouldn’t sign Kenny Britt because of his past issues, there’s almost no chance Jackson will join the team. And if he does, the Patriots will deserve the criticism they receive from fans and the media.