By Brady Henderson
DeSean Jackson's release from the Eagles means one of the NFL's most talented wide receivers is now a free agent, and the Seahawks have already been mentioned as a potential landing spot.
Let's take a closer look at the possibility.
Seahawks will always look. One thing we've learned about coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider during the four seasons they've been in Seattle is that they'll leave no stone unturned when it comes to potential personnel moves. At the very least they'll take a look, but speculation that they could be a player in this case doesn't necessarily mean they'll be heavily involved. It's something to keep in mind when the only evidence linking them to Jackson is reports that they had some degree of interest when he was on the trading block.
Connections to Carroll, Cal teammates. The Seahawks have shown a willingness to take on players with citizenship issues, most notably trading for Marshawn Lynch in 2010 and drafting Bruce Irvin 15th overall in 2012. One thing those two moves had in common was that a strong connection to the organization was cited as a reason why Seattle felt more comfortable making a move that carried some degree of risk. Carroll had a history with each player, recruiting both when he was at USC and facing Lynch after he chose to go to Cal. Lynch was also a college teammate and a close friend of Justin Forsett, who was still with the Seahawks when they traded for Lynch. Seattle has similar connections to Jackson, who is from the Los Angeles area and was teammates with Lynch and Brandon Mebane at Cal. That's not to say those connections would make the Seahawks any more likely to go after Jackson, though. Whatever knowledge they have of him could just as easily turn them off.
Jackson's alleged gang ties. A story in NJ.com that was published before Jackson's release stated that the Eagles were already growing tired of his act before they learned about his association with Los Angeles gang members who had been connected to a pair of homicides. According to the story, police said Jackson was part of each investigation but was never implicated in either crime, nor is there any hard evidence showing that he's a member of the gang (though several pictures show him flashing what police said were gang signs). It's an important distinction to draw, because while it would presumably be a deal breaker for most teams – especially the Seahawks given Carroll's efforts to curb gang violence in Los Angeles – there's a difference between associating with gang members and being one.
Seahawks have a need. Losing Golden Tate in free agency and releasing Sidney Rice left the Seahawks down a pair of starting wide receivers, and they could do much worse than filling one of those vacancies with a three-time Pro Bowl selection who is only 27 years old and coming off a career year in which he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Additionally, Jackson is one of the league's better punt returners, a need for Seattle now that Tate has moved on. But Jackson's body type and skill set are two things to consider. Was part of the Seahawks' decision to let Tate walk an unwillingness to pony up for another smaller, speedy receiver with Percy Harvin already playing under the richest contract in franchise history? If so, perhaps that thinking would come into play with Jackson, who is known for his speed and at 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds is roughly Harvin's size.
Jackson could be a bargain. Jackson was two seasons into a five-year, $48.5 million deal, but the off-field issues that preceded and accompanied his release make him a candidate for a short-term deal at a significantly reduced price. So does the timing. Now that free agency is two and a half weeks old, most teams have either filled their needs at receiver and/or given out all the big-budget deals they can afford. If Jackson does end up having to take one-year deal to restore his value, a run-first offense like that of Seattle might not be his best option.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.