It’s funny listening to Patriots fans.
Just one week ago, they vigorously broadcasted how Denver’s acquisitions of Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, and T.J. Ward meant little toward the Broncos’ chances of NFL dominance. It was oafishly piling up for title in a way we remember all too well in Boston. Does ‘Best Team Ever,” copyright, Boston Herald, 2011, ring a bell?
Since then, the Patriots not only landed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Browner, but they also inked former Panther wide receiver Brandon LaFell to a deal, as well as retained Julian Edelman to a four-year, $17 million deal, and the moves have New England fans suddenly chanting its retained dominance in the AFC.
No truth to the rumors that there will also be a security line dedicated to blind sheep at Gillette Stadium this fall though.
Still, even the most jaded New Englanders would have to surrender if the Patriots were to land the likes of Desean Jackson, the discussion morphs from boisterous to Fantasyland. Fans were giddy when reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Patriots had inquired about the 5-foot-10-inch Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, who recorded 82 receptions, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. The Eagles are reportedly open to shopping the talented diva, seeking for at least a third-round pick in return. Jackson is two years into a five-year, $51 million deal that will pay him $10.5 million this upcoming season with a cap number around $12 million.
The Patriots currently have about $8 million in cap space, so a restructuring of Jackson’s deal would likely need to happen in order to welcome him aboard. Coincidentally, if the team does indeed end up releasing veteran Vince Wilfork, they’ll save about the same number under the cap, in essence trading his defensive line presence for a dynamic toy for Tom Brady. Then again, Jackson has been whining about getting a new contract, even with only the two seasons played under his current deal.
He comes at a price, but so does the window for Brady and Bill Belichick. Have you heard?
“The Patriots have the motivation to make the deal, as they just spent big on Darrelle Revis, and could be in the last season or two of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick combination being a Super Bowl contender,” writes NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks. “The Patriots also have a serious lack of weapons, especially with Rob Gronkowski's health a concern going forward. The Patriots are a team that might be willing to part with their first-round pick, as they have no need to stockpile young talent -- they need to win now. The Eagles may be willing to take less from the Patriots than the 49ers, however, to get Jackson out of the conference -- and not see the decision comeback to bite them in a playoff matchup.”
NFL.com suggests that the Patriots would be hard-pressed to land the wide receiver unless the Eagles were willing to take Danny Amendola in return. Gregg Rosenthal aptly classifies that as too much of a fantasy football idea to really take seriously, but then again, who laughed last at the notion of the Patriots grabbing Revis from the Buccaneers a little more than a week ago?
But even as Patriots fans had visions of Jackson dancing in their heads, New England beat writers did their best to toss a wet blanket on the fanning flames, citing his cost, attitude, and depth chart at wide receiver as reasons why such an acquisition is a pipe dream. Cost? Yes. Attitude? Yes. Definite red flags.
Depth at wide receiver? No disrespect to Julian Edelman, Amendola, Lafell, and Aaron Dobson, but that’s more like planting a volleyball net depth than digging a hole to China. It’ll make do, but if you’re going to go all out on one side of the ball, shouldn’t Brady have as many offensive options as realistically possible?
That’s not to say that looking into Jackson is imperative for Belichick, just that the team should indeed keep all options open and be willing to sacrifice (i.e., Wilfork) where needed in order to give itself the best possible chance at a fourth Lombardi.
The third-round pick is of no debate, particularly since the team was willing to sacrifice it last year for the services of Sanders. The Patriots could work themselves under the cap by waving sayonara to Wilfork, and restructuring the deals for the likes of Stephen Gostkowski ($3.8 million under the cap, or, simply picking up another kicker over the summer), and safety Devin McCourty ($5.1 million). But that will also dictate what Jackson is looking for, and whether or not he’ll hold out if he doesn’t get it can be a threat that holds over the Patriots’ heads.
Is it worth it?
Or is there someone else out there we haven’t heard rumblings about?
Spare me the argument of “depth” at wide receiver. Belichick can’t be done looking for help there.
Even if he is, you’re free to have no complaints until the annual Rutgers Invitational on Draft Day. Until then, consider the Belichick-to-Chip-Kelly line open for business with the possibility of adding even more intrigue to this offseason.