Signing DeSean Jackson would be the kind of mistake Redskins have finally started avoiding


NFL player DeSean Jackson attends last year’s ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. (Frederick M. Brown/GETTY IMAGES)
Mike Wise
Columnist March 31

My burgundy-and-gold-blooded friend called Monday morning, immediately starting in with, “I’d be shocked if Snyder allowed DeSean Jackson to leave [Monday night] without a deal.”

Then I opened my laptop to read Jason Reid green-lighting everyone in Ashburn to go out and get Jackson.

Mike Wise is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

That’s when the old fears really began percolating, the fears about Washington ponying up the millions Philadelphia wouldn’t spend on its own players because the Eagles didn’t think they were worth it anymore.

If there is any football logic gleaned from his 15-year experience as an NFL owner, Daniel Snyder should at least know: Don’t take the Eagles’ leftovers.

DON’T — you can use caps.

The Post Sports Live crew debates whether the Redskins should try to acquire Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

If recent history is a guide, that road ends just two places: wasted millions and bitter disappointment.

A quick history lesson regarding the Washington-Philadelphia NFL Exchange Program: If the player’s name is not Sonny Jurgensen, take a pass.

Even if he had gotten along with Mike and Kyle Shanahan, Donovan McNabb was pretty much done as an elite quarterback when he was acquired in 2010 to sell club seats. This turned out to be a disastrous one-year partnership that resulted in two benchings, one more interception thrown (15) than touchdown passes and a lost year of fixing a still-broken franchise.

Getting McNabb ruined the first year of the Mike Shanahan era.

If I were a newly christened autonomous decision-maker such as Bruce Allen, in my first year of having the power to do what I wanted, I would think long and hard before gambling on Jackson in the first year of the Jay Gruden era.

The argument about Jackson being relatively young at 27 and coming off a career year holds little weight. Been there, done that too with Philadelphia.

Jeremiah Trotter made more sense in 2002 when he signed for $36 million. He was just 25, coming off his second Pro Bowl season in Philadelphia. He had just played in the NFC championship game.

But after 11 / 2 sacks in two years before being released in Washington, Trotter became a case study in why it’s better to develop and pay your own stars instead of acquiring someone else’s; those types of players are often hungrier where they made their bones.

Bottom line: DeSean Jackson doesn’t need to validate his talent anymore; just call up YouTube and watch. He needs a financial score much more than he needs to show he still belongs in the NFL.

On the surface, this is a tantalizing “get” after an offseason of sensible but unspectacular acquisitions. Jackson extends the field and gives Robert Griffin III another solid, impactful receiver in the vein of Pierre Garcon.

If we can agree the offense needs more speed and weapons, Jackson appears to fit. With Garcon, Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed and Jackson, that’s real playmaking help for a quarterback worried about too often using his legs for his livelihood.

But I would argue that kind of help came to the Eagles in the form of a second-round draft pick. That’s where Jackson was taken: 15 players behind Devin Thomas and one behind Fred Davis. Trying to fix Vinny Cerrato’s mistakes six years later just feels like going back in time.

Who’s to say the good football people Allen entrusted to run his operation — Morocco Brown and Scott Campbell — couldn’t come up with a younger, hungrier player of that magnitude in this draft?

Little of this thinking has to do with Jackson’s character, either. Frankly, he’s already had to deal with that issue the past few days regarding a report linking him to L.A. street gangs apparently based on nothing more than the rugged neighborhood he grew up in.

I actually feel for him on that front. It’s one thing to convince Washington, Oakland and Buffalo that your kick-returning skills are still sharp after averaging less than six yards per return and no touchdowns the past three years; it’s a little hard to sell yourself when the headlines Monday are, “High school AD, teachers say DeSean Jackson wasn’t in gang,” and “LAPD: DeSean Jackson not involved in gang-related killings.”

But let’s also be clear: His workplace behavior did raise red flags last season. There were temper flareups, shouting matches, getting into it with teammates and coaches, missed team meetings. When things don’t go his way, Jackson has shown to be a severely disgruntled player.

Garcon has often walked a fine line between passionate and counterproductive in his own locker room. Wait till Jackson’s fuse is lit and see whether that line isn’t incinerated.

And yet Jackson the person shouldn’t raise an alarm as much as Jackson the player the Eagles no longer wanted.

Allen’s methodical, bargain-hunting free agent shopping has received some undue criticism.

Getting Ryan Clark to come back to Washington, where safety help is badly needed, was a good move. Yes, Washington still needs an inside linebacker opposite Perry Riley and more quality offensive linemen. But for years, this team also has needed to compensate the people in its own locker room better and not throw money away on the next exotic candidate just because Jackson once embarrassed their its defensive backs or Bruce Smith looked so fearsome at one point in his career.

The term “impact signing” is such a misnomer. Remember: Albert Haynesworth was an “impact signing.”

An impact signing should be anyone who helps you become a significantly better team, not merely a name.

Taking care of your own the way Allen has the past month — DeAngelo Hall, Riley and Brian Orakpo immediately come to mind — makes for better locker rooms. Adding good, affordable pieces such as Jason Hatcher to the defense and Andre Roberts to the offense makes sense.

Using up too much cap space better saved for another behemoth to protect Griffin for the risk of bringing in Jackson — and it is a risk; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — feels like a page out of the old playbook, the one in which discarded Eagles are paid to sprout new wings in Washington.

How’d that work out before?

For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.

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