NFL Free Agency Rumors: Seahawks and DeSean Jackson, a Risk Pete Carroll Has Taken Before
By Josh Davis
Aug 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) during warmups prior to playing the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Jets 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
As re-reported yesterday by Mitch Quesada, the Seattle Seahawks could become ‘major players’ in landing one of the biggest (and most unlikely) names on the 2014 free agent market, DeSean Jackson.
I’ve already stated my thoughts on how I think DeSean fits with the Seahawks, so I’m going to go in a different direction today. This is all about whether the organization should take a chance on him with the character concerns that have recently come about.
While the Hawks weren’t part of the original list of names reportedly ‘very interested’ in Jackson’s services, there is simply no doubt Pete Carroll and John Schneider are just taking their time and doing their homework before really stirring the pot. It’s how they operate and it’s no surprise they aren’t on the radar just yet. But they don’t have a whole lot of homework to do, after all Carroll already has extensive background with the prime-timer from L.A. If you haven’t already seen the photo below from D.J.’s Instagram account…
Of course the first issue that must be addressed is this ‘gang-affiliation’ nonsense that’s come about lately. The rush to judgement on D.J. with such an allegation is mind-blowingly inconclusive at this point. Photo’s in this report have circulated of Jackson hanging out with a member of his record label and flashing ‘Crips’ gang signs, not to mention the whole Jaccpot Records thing.
While not complete coincidence based on certain aspects of Jackson’s life, professional decisions and personal affiliations, there is certainly nothing concrete to suggest that he is a gang member. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had little to no idea that he would be perceived this way publicly (or more appropriately how much public perception could affect his situation) and these past couple weeks will change the way he acts a little bit. Many times, you don’t realize how your affiliations affect you until something comes out that changes your life in some way. So at this point Jackson is faced with a decision and more importantly, a choice to make himself better or not.
Pete Carroll is no doubt familiar with this type of behavior with his experience in California. Coaching and recruiting at USC in Los Angeles (not to mention recruiting Jackson in high school), he is also likely to be more qualified than most other coaches to both give an accurate opinion on Jackson and deal with the young man in a fatherly way.
December 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) reacts on the bench during a game against the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre. Seattle defeated Buffalo 50-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Remember Marshawn Lynch’s big issues back at Buffalo? The Seahawks and Carroll had prior knowledge on Lynch as well as recruiting time from USC and took a chance, after even more extensive background checking, by trading for the volatile (thought of at the time anyway) running back from Oakland. He hasn’t always been the perfect model citizen, but Marshawn tries hard and generally stays out of a negative spotlight. Now we know him as a big ‘beastly’ teddy-bear.
They’ve also put in time with such problem children as Terrell Owens, while also taking chances on plenty of other guys that most of the rest of the NFL wouldn’t touch, Mike Williams and Braylon Edwards come to mind.
Of course it hasn’t always worked out but as part of the process of putting this team together by taking chances in one way or another to make it what it is today (not always character concerns), it’s most certainly paid off in guys like Tarvaris Jackson, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson and as previously mentioned, Lynch. So it wouldn’t and shouldn’t be a surprise if the Hawks make a risky move on another player with perception issues if it’s in the best interest of the team. That’s the key though, if it’s in the best interest of the Seattle Seahawks.
Carroll, Schneider and even owner Paul Allen would likely be involved in the decision if Jackson was to pick up a free agency offer with Seattle. It’s well known that Allen isn’t the biggest football-centric owner but he most certainly has a reputation to uphold and nobody wants to bring in a cancer into the organization, even at the expense of improving the team. That being said, just like it was with Lynch, Jackson may not be the cancer everybody so wary of after all.
Honestly, I’ve never felt as if Jackson wasn’t a team player. Sure, he doesn’t like it when he’s open and doesn’t get the ball, but it’s not like he’s a Dez Bryant. I’ve watched plenty of Eagles games since he arrived and not only does he make his teammates better but he sincerely seems like a polarizing personality that the guys want to be around.
In fact until just a few days ago, we’ve never heard of any locker room issues or anything like that. Now many people outside the Eagles organization are saying he’s not a good teammate or whatever, but It may just be that his cockiness and/or willingness to speak up when he should be quiet clashed with Chip Kelly one too many times and people are making far too much of a connection between himself and where he grew up.
Jackson’s (now) former teammates went to bat for him a little bit yesterday at a charity event.
"“DeSean’s a great talent. That’s undeniable. As far as everything else, he’s come a long way. He’s matured a lot in the NFL. I think that’s part of the process, but it’s not for me to speak on another man’s behalf. So like I said, whatever happens, that’s what we have to roll with.”– Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin“All I can tell you is I think he’s a good person. I think he’s a really good person and he’s a great player. He’s a guy I’ll never forget. When my career’s done, to the end, that’s a guy I’ll never forget.”– Eagles LB Trent Cole"
Here is the statement released by DeSean early yesterday via ESPN’s twitter account and some other twitter comments, supporting his denial of the allegations of gang affiliation levied against him by the public:
Trust that the entire Seahawks organization will do their homework on this situation, but do not be shocked if they really go after DeSean within the next couple of days. Not just because of Jason La Canfora’s report, but because it’s what Pete Carroll does. I’ve thought all along that when he was released the Hawks would become a player if they could get him at a moderately affordable price.
Some Seahawks fans may not agree that such a thing exists with the necessary re-signing of Thomas, Sherman and Wilson imminent, but remember not everybody on the roster will stick a spot come training camp. Competition will weed a couple players that are eating some cap space out, even if we don’t see it coming. I’m particularly looking at the offensive line to change more than we currently anticipate. That still doesn’t mean they could compete with the New York Jets or Oakland Raiders in a salary offer, but it does mean they have a legitimate shot if they do decide to pursue him.
If Jackson checks out and the Seahawks feel like he could be a positive addition to the team they’ll go after them with all the resources they can afford.