Could the Patriots, in need of receiver help, target DeSean Jackson? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots don’t exactly have an awe-inspiring receiving corps. In fact, they had one of the NFL’s worst WR groups last season, and they’ll certainly be looking for several upgrades this offseason.
As such, any time a big name hits the market, there will be questions about whether the Patriots will target that player. That includes DeSean Jackson.
Next Pats Podcast – Zaven Collins: One of THE BEST Patriots fits in the draft | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube
Jackson, a 13-year NFL veteran, was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday. The Patriots once had an interest in Jackson back in 2017 — the last time he was a free agent — according to Master Tesfatsion, so could they be interested in bringing him around this year?
It’s possible. But the potential drawbacks of bringing in Jackson at this point are quite apparent.
Though the Patriots don’t have much in terms of wide receiver depth, Jackson wouldn’t necessarily fix that problem. Sure, he’s a deep threat that has averaged 17.4 yards per catch during his NFL career, but he’s also a 34-year-old free agent who has played eight games total in the last two years. And he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013 in the final year of his first stint with the Eagles.
If Jackson stays healthy, he would certainly be an upgrade over what the Patriots have if only for his deep speed alone. But signing him and expecting him to do that in the twilight of his career would certainly qualify as a risk. And it’s an unnecessary one at that when considering the wealth of receiving talent available this offseason.
There are plenty of other free-agent receivers that are younger than Jackson and that don’t come with the same injury issues that the veteran has. They may be more expensive, but they also have more upside at this point. The 2021 NFL Draft class is also strong at receiver and the Patriots could consider drafting any of these players early to fill the need they have at the position.
Maybe Bill Belichick will want to go after Jackson if only to provide cheap, veteran insurance for the Patriots. But just because the team was interested in Jackson’s services four years ago doesn’t mean that they’re going to target him at this time.
Potential Pats target Hunter Henry outlines his free-agent priorities
And even if the team does pursue Jackson, it won’t preclude them from adding several other receiving weapons to their roster in other phases of the offseason.