Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson is back on the open market.
Jackson, 34, spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia. He was released Friday.
Jackson, prior to his second stint with the Eagles, played two campaigns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He landed with the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2017 after receiving a three-year contract worth $35 million with $20 million guaranteed.
The New England Patriots, you may recall, reportedly were interested in the receiver that offseason. At the time, Jackson was entering his age-31 season after three 1,000-yard seasons in a four-year span.
You also may remember that offseason wasn’t set to be a booming one for the receiver room as they had Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola under contract. New England, however, made a trade for speedy receiver Brandin Cooks instead.
Fast forward four years later.
Does the Patriots’ previous interest in Jackson mean they could make a run at him now?
Obviously, a lot has changed. A lot. Tom Brady isn’t in New England, the 2021 Patriots seem far away from the 2017 team, and then there’s Jackson himself.
Once among the best deep threats in the game and someone who could take the top off of defenses, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Jackson has not been the same consistent presence the Patriots were interested in four years ago.
Since that offseason, Jackson has played 10 games or less in three campaigns. His two years in Philadelphia were hindered by injuries as he suffered a high ankle sprain and fracture in 2020, just after a hamstring injury. He played five games last season. And in 2019 Jackson played just three games before a core muscle injury sent him to injured reserve and prompted surgery.
Jackson is past his prime. And with his recent string of injuries and age, it is unlikely he returns to form when he was the league’s best yards-per-reception receiver.
But is it worth a low-risk shot for the Patriots, who undoubtedly need more play-making ability in their group of receivers? Sure.
Jackson compiled 14 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown in five games last year.
Jakobi Meyers (59 catches, 729 yards, zero receiving touchdowns in 14 games) and Damiere Byrd (47 catches, 604 yards, one touchdown in 16 games) are the only two who have stats that stand well above his. N’Keal Harry recorded 309 yards on 33 receptions in 14 games. And they all played almost triple the amount of games.
Jackson’s 17 yards-per-catch was more than any Patriots pass-catcher this season. It was second on the team behind just quarterback Cam Newton, who averaged 17.5 yards on two catches. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Patriots were interested in 2017, and should be interested in, again, a low-risk signing for a proven veteran in 2021.