Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, returning to his native Southern California after 13 NFL seasons on the East Coast.
Jackson will provide a deep threat for new quarterback Matthew Stafford. The deal also reunites Jackson with Sean McVay, his offensive coordinator for three seasons in Washington.
The 34-year-old Jackson spent his first six NFL seasons and the last two with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he played in just eight games over the last two years due to injuries.
The speedy wideout had the best season of his career in 2013 with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns for the Eagles, and he followed it with two 1,000-yard seasons for Washington under McVay's leadership. Jackson then spent two seasons with Tampa Bay before rejoining Philadelphia in 2019.
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Jackson has spoken in past offseasons about his interest in reuniting with McVay and in playing back home in California. The Rams were in the market for a speedy deep threat to add contrast to McVay's short-pass offense, and Jackson appeared to be an ideal fit even before the Rams got the deal done.
When McVay was asked Friday about the possibility of signing another receiver, the coach smiled and replied: “We’re always trying to add some juice.”
Jackson was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Crenshaw district. After a standout career at prep powerhouse Long Beach Poly, he spurned USC’s interest and moved north to play three collegiate seasons at California.
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Jackson will join fellow Los Angeles-area native Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as the Rams’ top receivers. Josh Reynolds, the Rams’ No. 3 receiver last season, is an unsigned free agent, while Van Jefferson is expected to get much more playing time in 2021 after being used sparingly as a rookie.
Woods, Kupp and Jefferson are all excellent receivers, but all three play a game based on precision, not overwhelming speed.
Jackson has led the NFL in yards per reception four times in his career — and if he’s healthy, he could fit the Rams’ needs perfectly.
McVay had Sammy Watkins as a deep threat in 2017, and he was followed by Brandin Cooks in 2018 and 2019. Los Angeles traded Cooks early last year and didn't replace his speed.
“When you definitely have skill players with juice, that can threaten the top shelf of the (opponents') coverage,” general manager Les Snead said Friday when asked about the importance of signing a deep threat.
“The difficult part of the equation is finding those players who can actually threaten NFL defenders, because most players that come into this league are fast,” Snead added. "So there is an element where you have to really go search and identify. We’d all love to identify those guys that can even threaten NFL defenders.”