The New England Patriots don’t have a clear need at wide receiver, but that won’t stop the annual “will head coach Bill Belichick acquire [favorite 30+ year old veteran wide receiver]?” reports from circulating.
Instead of Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald joining the Patriots (that storyline is so December, 2016), a new 30-year-old receiver is linked to New England, according to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman: WR DeSean Jackson.
“One scout believes Jackson will end up in either New England or Dallas, with the Patriots being the more likely choice,” Freeman writes. “This is just the scout's belief. The Patriots keep secrets better than the CIA, so no one really knows, but it could work. Belichick took a gamble on veteran receiving threats like Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco in the past.”
The 5’10, 180 pound, former All Pro wide receiver turned 30 in December and is coming off a productive 1,005 yard season as the #3 receiver in the Washington offense by snap count. Jackson has nine years of experience- six with the Philadelphia Eagles and three with Washington- and he has averaged 1,022 yards from scrimmage per season over the course of his career.
Jackson is considered the best deep threat receiver in the league with a career average of 17.7 yards per reception- #1 of all active players and #2 of any player over the past 20 years.
The clear question comes with fit. Where does Jackson fit into the Patriots offense? With WR Chris Hogan already holding down the role of deep threat, and with WR Julian Edelman and WR Malcolm Mitchell making up the rest of the receiving corps, it’s hard to see how Jackson can see time in the Patriots projected offense.
Freeman notes that he thinks Jackson is a fit with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I don’t think Jackson makes sense with the Patriots.
But let’s say that Jackson hypothetically joins the Patriots in free agency. Do people understand how diabolical this could be?
Jackson is one of the premier deep threats in the league, but take a look at the top three players in yards per reception for 2016 (minimum of 25 receptions):
3. Patriots WR Chris Hogan, 17.89 YPR
2. WR DeSean Jackson, 17.95 YPR
1. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, 21.60 YPR
That’s right- if the Patriots signed Jackson, they would have the three biggest deep threats in the NFL as a part of the same offense. QB Tom Brady said that he spent the 2016 offseason working on his deep ball and became one of the best in the league at that range.
If Jackson joins the Patriots, the New England offense would be a threat to score on literally every single play. That would be one heck of an offense to watch.