The Oakland Raiders are among the favorites to sign former Philadelphia Eagles No. 1 wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and he would give the Raiders the kind of playmaker that they have been searching for in the passing game. But a return home to the Bay Area could have its share of problems, especially after a Friday report from NJ.com surfaced alleging gang ties. Jackson wasn’t released because of these concerns, but rather Chip Kelly’s belief that he had become a distraction for being late to meetings. There are teams concerned with Jackson, and even Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs- once regarded as favorites- decided to pull out of the race after doing some more checks on him.
All of this drives down Jackson’s price further, but he’s a talented 27-year-old wideout coming off of a season with over 1,300 receiving yards; he can still get paid significant money. The Raiders stiffest competition will likely come from the Washington Redskins, who seem to be smitten with the prospect of adding Jackson to a team that has two big playmakers in Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed but not much WR depth.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that the Raiders “are still doing background work” on DeSean Jackson, and it’s going to be interesting to see if the Raiders follow the Chiefs lead and pull out of the race if they find red flags they don’t like. I think Jackson is so good that he’s well-worth the flier, especially since character concerns like this are often exaggerated. For every Aaron Hernandez (the example everyone likes to point to), there are many more players who pan out.
However, Breer notes that the Raiders may realize that there is more risk involved for them signing Jackson than other teams due to the location, and it’s definitely prudent for the Raiders to do this. My belief has always been that the Raiders should show strong interest in Jackson, but they shouldn’t sign him if they can’t net an affordable deal with safeguards against issues. Heck, any team that doesn’t sign that type of a deal with Jackson would run the risk of making a mistake, especially since all of the reports of concerns should make that contract structure easy for teams.