Sunday, March 11, 2012

After dealing for No. 2 pick, Redskins covet a top WR

The Redskins must wait until Thursday, April 26 (the first night of the NFL Draft), to officially select their quarterback of the future -- likely to be Robert Griffin III -- with the recently acquired No. 2 overall pick, but they're going to need (at least) another downfield option for Griffin to utilize. Cue the team's interest in Vincent Jackson.

If signed, Jackson, 29, would give the Redskins an unquestioned No. 1 receiver in an offense that sorely lacks one. Santana Moss is no longer that guy and hasn't been for a few seasons. And unlike Moss, Jackson brings another element to the table: Not only is he fast, but at 6'5, he can win jump balls against opposing defensive backs. That's a pretty valuable trait for someone who could be receiving lots of deep targets from the strong-armed Griffin.

Washington will have lots of cap space to work with, so signing Jackson wouldn't be too difficult if they completely set their sights on acquiring him. (Worth noting: The 2012 cap is expected to be $120.6 million.) But the Redskins, by using this year's first-rounder to select a quarterback and forfeiting their second-round pick, will now have to plug another hole or two that they may have been able to cover in the draft. That probably means signing an offensive lineman or two while at least looking at linebackers, defensive backs, and defensive linemen. And that's not including re-signing guys like London Fletcher, Tim Hightower, and Adam Carriker.

But signing Jackson to a huge contract would not be without its risks. Drafted in 2005 in the second round by the Chargers, Jackson has had some off-the-field issues. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge and received probation. Then in January 2009, he was again arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. He pleaded guilty to that DUI charge in February 2010 and received a four-day jail sentence and five years probation. Jackson has also had issues with driving with both a suspended license and expired tags. Because of his two DUIs, in July 2010 Jackson was suspended for three games for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy.

Jackson has been seeking a long-term, lucrative contract for a while, which the Chargers have understandably refused to give him. While serving his three-game suspension for the 2010-2011 season, Jackson also held because of a contract dispute. He ended up playing in only five games that season and catching just 14 passes. The Chargers franchised him the following season, and he played in all 16 games, catching 60 passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns.

Still, Jackson's talent is undisputed. In seven seasons, he's caught 272 passes for 4,754 yards and 37 touchdowns. And even though he seems to be either questionable or a game-time decision routinely because of nagging injuries, he's played in 15 or 16 games in five of those seven seasons. So signing Jackson makes sense, but like most potential moves, it's not without its risks.

If Jackson isn't the guy, other free agent receiving options include Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, and Mario Manningham.