In Tampa Bay, Jackson will pair with 2016 Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, who was fourth in the NFL last season with 1,321 receiving yards and tied for second with 12 touchdown catches.
"It is rare to find a player in free agency with the combination of speed and natural playmaking ability of a DeSean Jackson," said Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht in a release announcing the deal.
"DeSean is exactly the type of dynamic playmaker we have been targeting for our offense," added Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter. "DeSean brings a veteran presence and a big-play mentality that fits in perfectly with our offensive philosophy. He is a tough-minded competitor who has the game-breaking speed and pass-catching ability that stretches the defense and creates matchup problems."
The Redskins now have lost their top two wide receivers in free agency, with Pierre Garcon having signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
Jackson had spent the past three years with the Redskins, averaging an NFL-best 19.03 yards per catch during that time. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch in six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jackson, who turned 30 in December, finished strong in 2016, with four 100-yard performances in his last six games. In that time, he averaged 24.45 yards on 22 receptions with 2 touchdowns. He finished the season with 56 receptions for 1,005 yards -- the fifth time he has surpassed 1,000 yards in a season.
He has established himself as one of the NFL's best deep-ball receivers as he uses his speed -- as well as his days playing center field in baseball -- to track the ball for big plays.
At times, Jackson appeared frustrated with a lack of downfield opportunities but would only say he doesn't call the plays. He also was a source of offseason controversy pertaining to how often he would show up for volunteer workouts.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection was released in the 2014 offseason after six seasons with the Eagles. With the Eagles, Jackson, a second-round pick in 2008, caught 356 passes with 32 touchdowns.
|David Banks/Getty Images|
DESEAN JACKSON, BUCCANEERS REPORTEDLY AGREE TO 3-YEAR CONTRACT
DeSean Jackson proved throughout the 2016 season that he still has the speed necessary to blow the top off of opposing defenses, and he parlayed that status into a lucrative deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Thursday.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the two sides agreed to terms on a three-year, $35 million deal, with $20 million guaranteed.
Jackson spent three seasons with the Washington Redskins after he was unceremoniously cut by Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles, and he maintained his label as one of the league's most explosive vertical threats.
The nine-year veteran erupted for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns during the 2014 campaign in the nation's capital, and he kept things rolling in 2016 after he was limited to 10 appearances in 2015 due to various bumps and bruises.
Last year, Jackson posted 56 catches for 1,005 yards, four touchdowns and a league-best mark of 17.9 yards per reception over the course of 15 games.
|DeSean Jackson's Career Stats|
According to Pro-Football-Reference, Jackson leads all players with seven seasons in which he's tallied at least 40 receptions total and better than 15 yards per catch dating back to 2008. Vincent Jackson, Calvin Johnson and Nate Washington rank tied for second in that time span given those statistical qualifiers.
"When he wants to be elite, he is elite," Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins said, according to the Washington Post's Liz Clarke. "I mean, he is the real deal on every single route in the playbook, in the route tree. He can run every single one of them. He plays bigger than his size."
And even though he'll turn 31 toward the end of the 2017 season, Jackson hasn't displayed much evidence that his speed is starting to wane.
So while he may not be a true No. 1 option in terms of pure receiving volume, the burner has the downfield playmaking capabilities necessary to help open up the rest of the Buccaneers offense and clear things out underneath for a team that could benefit from more schematic diversity.
Plus, Jackson will be able to apply pressure on defenses in tandem with Mike Evans—who has established himself as one of the NFL's more physical and dynamic vertical threats over the past three seasons.
For quarterback Jameis Winston, that's a dream come true considering no other receiver on Tampa Bay's roster last season outside of Evans topped 700 yards.
And after the Bucs ranked an average 16th in passing yards per game (245.4) last season, they appear primed for a leap forward now that Jackson will be lining up opposite Evans as he comprises half of one of the NFC's most dynamic receiving tandems.
DeSean Jackson agrees to three-year deal with Bucs
DeSean Jackson has found a new home in Tampa Bay.
In what seemed like the perfect union all along, Jackson has agreed to terms with the Buccaneers, the team announced Thursday. The deal is for three years and $33.5 million, including $20 million in guarantees, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
The 30-year-old field-stretching wide receiver appeared to have a handful of suitors but will end up settling in with the cannon-armed third-year quarterback Jameis Winston. Rapoport said Winston was lobbying hard to get Jackson in Florida.
"It is rare to find a player in free agency with the combination of speed and natural playmaking ability of a DeSean Jackson," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. "DeSean is a smart, gifted athlete who has averaged more than 17 yards per reception throughout his nine-year career and brings the type of veteran experience and deep threat receiving ability that will have an immediate impact on our offense."
The move is a significant warning shot to the rest of the division fired by Licht, who is looking to upgrade an offense that has the pieces to become one of the NFL's best. Last season, Winston was eighth in passing touchdowns and 16th in attempts. This season, we might see both of those numbers go up.
Winston targeted lead wide receiver Mike Evans a staggering 173 times in 2016, with the next-highest number at 83 from wideout Adam Humphries. The signing of Jackson adds a receiver who might not dazzle with overall stats but has a profound impact on the vertical passing game. Jackson caught 56 balls for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns last year, good enough for 17.9 yards per catch.
The one concern Tampa will run into is catch percentage. Jackson, throughout his career, has caught between 50 and 60 percent of the passes thrown in his direction -- largely indicative of the types of passes (go routes, deep ins, broken routes) that he receives more often. Evans finds himself in the same range, with a 55 percent catch rate in two of his last three seasons. This puts the onus on Winston, who has gotten the receivers he's always wanted but now has to make them work to his benefit.
Tampa, thankfully, does not have to worry about a drop off in Jackson's blazing speed right now. Next Gen Stats suggests the 30-year-old was actually faster in 2016 than he was at his top-end speed in 2015. Eventually, speed diminishes in every great wide receiver and they are forced to find different ways to get open. But for now, Jackson's greatest weapon seems firmly intact.