Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson knows skeptics anticipated a short career for him, given his small stature. But, having turned 30 years old in December, and eyeing free agency in a little more than two weeks, Jackson is clear on this: He wants to play a while longer, perhaps as much as six years. And, yes, he's thought about that happening with Philadelphia.
On Adam Schefter’s latest Know Them From Adam podcast, Jackson discussed free agency, a possible return to the Eagles and how he hasn't yet lost a step. Jackson also spoke about what it means to have his son and how he thinks about his late father every day. It was the most I’ve heard Jackson speak about that topic, and it was interesting. You can listen to the extended interview here.
The question is, where will free agency take the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Jackson? There has been a lot of speculation about a possible return to Philadelphia. The Redskins haven’t ruled out his return, but it’s far from a guarantee -- and, at this time, unlikely. Tampa Bay is a possibility, too, where he’d be paired with strong-armed quarterback Jameis Winston.
Besides wanting the best contract, Jackson said, “I would love to play with a great quarterback. I think Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback. He’s done some great things the past couple years as far as statistics. If it’s another team I have to go to, we know the business of the NFL. I would love to play with a great quarterback and take that to the next level.”
The Eagles, of course, drafted quarterback Carson Wentz second overall last spring. They lack deep-ball threats, too. There’s a chance Philadelphia will pursue Jackson or Redskins teammate Pierre Garcon.
“I mean, it’s definitely a great story and ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson told Schefter of a possible return. “Starting your career somewhere and you go to a division rival and possibly maybe going back. You think about all that, you start somewhere and maybe you want to finish it. There’s a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you never know until the final decision is made.”
But he does like Wentz.
"He killed it," Jackson said. "He had a heck of a year. He showed he can do it all. He has the intangibles of being a big-time quarterback."
But Jackson’s foray into free agency in 2014 was forced after the Eagles cut him. It led to numerous questions and much speculation about off-field issues. Jackson, though he would often miss volunteer workout sessions in the offseason with Washington, stayed out of trouble.
“I sit back and laugh about it,” Jackson said of the Eagles' release. “I felt I was at the top of my game; I was blossoming. To be set back like that ... that made me a little more humble. I came out and thought I’d be a first-round pick and I slipped to the second round. That motivated me my whole five, six, seven years in the league and then you have something like that happen. It re-motivated me and re-triggered a situation like, this is really a business. You have to hold yourself accountable and watch who you’re hanging around and watch what you post on Instagram. You’re just being a young guy, having fun and you work so hard to get blessed with money and accolades, but then you have the opportunity to sit back and reality kicks in. This happened, so how do you regain everyone’s attention.”
He did that with his speed. Jackson certainly didn’t appear to have lost a step this past season, when he averaged 17.9 yards per catch. He finished with four 100-yard games in his last six outings. He also told Schefter he could still run a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.
That’s why he said he’s not ready for a switch to the slot. Someday? Yes -- maybe.
“I’m not ready for that now,” he said. “I still feel I can play outside and play at a high level. Maybe if it ever comes to a point where you do lose a step [but] you have guys like Darrell Green who never lost a step. Hopefully I can stay at that level and keep all my speed.”
Jackson spent the last three years in Washington, averaging 19.03 yards per catch during his tenure -- most of any receiver during that time. This past season, he caught 56 passes for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns. And he remains as confident as ever of what he can do.
“My mindset has been putting myself in the best position to sustain another four, five, six years in the NFL,” he said. “I still feel young and rejuvenated. I want to do all the things the right way. The past couple years I’ve proven I can still go out there and take the top off and be one of the best deep threats in the league.
“I’m not done yet, I still got another period of time where I’ll still give these defensive coordinators hell. I’ll make them stay up all night trying to figure out how to stop this young man.”