It’s been several years since DeSean Jackson has showcased the 4.3-40 speed that wowed us early in his career, yet at age 34 he’s still managed to provide production at wide receiver and garner plenty of interest around the league. Jackson managed to ink a deal with the Los Angeles Rams this offseason in what could be the final contract of his 14-year career, but he told reporters just last week that he had plenty of options.
“There were other options out there. I could have went to other teams, other places. But my focus was really reuniting with Sean McVay,” he said.
That’s right — plenty of teams for vying for a chance to get this savvy veteran on their roster. That’s because, as McVay also said, Jackson isn’t just a one-trick pony.” He’d know better than anyone, coaching Jackson from 2014-16 in Washington as his offensive coordinator. In those years, he averaged 900.7 yards, hauling in 14 touchdowns.
In Los Angeles, it’s reasonable to expect Jackson to be a very solid addition. That’s not just because he’s got a familiar face coaching him, who should utilize him to his fullest, it’s also because he’s going to be playing with a great quarterback, and step into a great role.
Matthew Stafford can still get it done at age 33. He’s coming off yet another 4,000-yard season, one where he threw for 26 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. Looking at DeSean Jackson’s last seven seasons, since he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013, you could argue he’s never had a quarterback at the level of Stafford, or one that could even be considered good. Robert Griffin, III started just seven games in 2014 and was largely ineffective, going 2-5 and throwing six picks against just four touchdowns. That was followed by two seasons of Kirk Cousins, then two seasons of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay.
With all that, Jackson still managed to post two 1,000-yard seasons in Washington and go for 1,442 yards in just 26 games with the Bucs, good for over 55 per game. Those really aren’t bad numbers at all considering his age, and they’re especially impressive when you consider the quality of quarterback throwing him the ball.
After that, he’d return to Philly where he played just three games in 2019, and played through a QB controversy in 2020 and managed suit up for five contests. It’s safe to say those two seasons are a wash.
So, it’s difficult to know exactly where Jackson’s at at this point in his career, though the last time we saw him at age 32 he was pretty damn good. It’s also safe to say he’ll have a good quarterback throwing him the ball for the first time in almost 10 years.
Jackson’s not the only one excited to see a good quarterback for once, the Rams have finally rid themselves of Jared Goff and are ready for contention. In less-exciting news, they lost Josh Reynolds in free agency, though that’s where Jackson should prove to be handy. He’s not going to be one of the top two targets with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods on the roster, but he should slot right in as the third receiver, just where Reynolds was.
In 16 games (and 13 starts) Reynolds managed 52 catches on 81 targets, totaling over 600 yards. Should he replicate that role exactly, 81 targets would mark the most Jackson’s most since 2017.
It’s not always that exact, and I’d actually be inclined to believe with Stafford at the helm not only will the Rams pass more, they’ll be willing to take more chances downfield. That’s where Jackson should come in, and he should have a pretty large role in this offense should he remain healthy.
That’s been the key word through the last couple of years, though, and there’s certainly no guarantee of that with Jackson. But when he puts on a Rams uniform, I think it’s fair to expect big things. With Reynolds gone, Jackson should have an opening for plenty of targets in an exciting passing offense, and given what he’s been able to do with some bad quarterbacks, he should have plenty in store for us with Matt Stafford.