Shortly after his release from the Philadelphia Eagles last Friday, DeSean Jackson admitted feeling a wide range of emotions: anger, frustration, embarrassment ranking among them.
As he tried to gather his thoughts and figure out what the future held for him, he received phone calls that made a strong impression on him. One came from Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and the other came from Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Both players expressed support for him, and told him how badly they wanted him to join forces with them after seeing him torment their team twice a year, Hall for the previous six seasons.
The gestures made Jackson feel like Washington might be the best option for him to continue his career and repair his image, so he scheduled a visit with the Redskins before any other team. After spending a portion of Monday and much of Tuesday with the team, he decided he didn’t want to leave.
“I feel they embraced me as far as RGIII, DeAngelo Hall reached out to me and made me feel like it was home here,” Jackson said Wednesday via conference call. “After everything that was going on the past couple days and the last week, that’s a big step of their first move for me. I think DeAngelo Hall really stepped up to the plate and called me and said, ‘Look, bro. I know I’ve been playing against you for a long time, but I feel like this is a situation where if you came in here, you could help us out a lot.’ For myself, I was still at a point in my career where that made me very humble for everything to go down and happen the way it happened. But coming in here, Bruce Allen, Mr. Snyder, Jay Gruden, I think it was an open-arm situation and I just was looking for an opportunity to come in and be productive and help out any way possible. I think this place right here is a great place and has some great things going on and I’m just happy to being an addition to helping this team win.”
Jackson on Wednesday morning signed a contract that will pay him $24 million over three years, with $16 million guaranteed. He will join an offense that has ranked among the top 10 in the league in each of the past two seasons and is expected to help expedite the team’s rebuilding efforts.
Jackson’s release came despite the fact that he put up career numbers in catches, yards and touchdowns. But he clashed with then first-year Eagles Coach Chip Kelly, and reportedly showed up late for meetings at times last season. The Eagles reportedly had concerns about Jackson’s influence on younger teammates, and so they decided to cut ties with him.
Initially on Wednesday, Jackson tried to avoid talking about the situation. But then he admitted being embarrassed by how the situation played out, and also expressed a hunger to prove himself as a quality person.
“It was a humbling experience for myself – me being at the peak of my career and doing some great things in this league after my sixth year,” the three-time Pro Bowl receiver said. “I’m very humbled to be where I’m at and to be released like that. But I feel like moving forward is the best thing for me … and being a part of the Redskins who just won a division title the year before. There are some great things going on here in Washington. As far as putting out the statement [clarifying that he is not involved with gangs], I felt like that was the right thing to do at the right time and eventually I think people will understand and see the real DeSean Jackson and not see the painted picture that was put out of me before. I’m going to do everything have to do to be a Washington Redskins and be respected by people in this league and people in this organization.”
Jackson joins a wide receiver unit that already includes Pierre Garcon, who led the league in catches last season, and promising second-year tight end Jordan Reed. The team also added talented slot receiver Andre Roberts this offseason, and returns Pro Bowl running back Alfred Morris.
The weapons on offense, and the success Washington could have made the team an even more desirable destination, Jackson said.
“That was a key factor in this whole decision,” Jackson said. “Seeing what Pierre Garcon did last year, Robert Griffin having a great year too, regardless of the record. Alfred Morris, being a very talented guy in this league. I think people know that and it’s going to have to be decision-making on defense. We’ll have to figure out how things play out and what roles. … Anything I’m asked to do, I’ll do it to my utmost ability and have fun doing it at the same time.”
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