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NFC East: Even As A Free Agent, DJax Doesn't Make Sense

Posted Mar 28, 2014

Minutes after the Eagles announced the release of DeSean Jackson, the tweets and emails began to trickle in. Any time a big-name player becomes available in the NFL – or any sports league, really – you start to play the “What If?” game.

What if Jackson lined up on the opposite side of the Cowboys’ offense from Dez Bryant? What if Bryant and Terrance Williams lined up outside, with the speedy Jackson in the slot to take advantage of mismatches? What if Jackson terrified secondaries into dropping deep, opening up the middle of the field for Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar?

It’s a tantalizing daydream, especially in the doldrums of the offseason, when real, live football still feels about as far away as a manned mission to Mars.

That’s about all it is, though – a daydream. In reality, I can’t envision many scenarios where this comes across as a smart move, from either a financial standpoint or a chemistry standpoint.

Jackson is a free agent now, so the conversation is different from the one a week or two ago, when we were envisioning trade scenarios. The Cowboys don’t have to give anything up to land the Pro Bowler, other than the money it would take to sign him.

Unfortunately, money is something the Cowboys don’t have much of – not after using a solid chunk of their cap room on Henry Melton. Before his release, Jackson was two years into a five-year, $48 million deal. He was scheduled to make $10.5 million in salary in 2014, and his cap hit for each of the next three seasons was $10 million or higher.

It’s hard to predict what his next deal is going to be – especially with reports surfacing Friday on NJ.com that Jackson has loose affiliation with gang activities in the Los Angeles area. My guess is that’s coming to come up with the next team Jackson talks to, but how much is it really going to affect the price tag? Not a lot would be my guess. 

Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro coming off a 1,300-yard season. He’s going to get a good deal.

Factor in that, as of right now, the Cowboys still have to find a new contract with Dez Bryant, who is coming to the end of his rookie contract. Both receivers are among the elite in the NFL, and they’re both deserving of lucrative contracts.

I don’t think you can afford to pay them both, and I don’t think Jackson brings enough to the table that you would sign him over Bryant. Jackson is a difference-maker, but I don’t know that he’s the same type of unguardable, true No. 1 receiver as Bryant.

Also don’t forget: it was just a week ago that Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he didn’t see wide receiver as a high priority in this spring’s draft. If the front office doesn’t value a new receiver enough to invest a high draft pick, would it invest 10s of millions of dollars on a Pro Bowler?
Like I said, I’m just not seeing it.
 
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