Jaguars: Let's Make A Deal

The Jaguars have historically been one of the more reluctant teams in terms of trading, especially in the new era of the franchise. With all of the money that was spent in the first month of free agency this year, on pretty average talent (at best), the Jaguars and any other team are now being presented with an opportunity to pick up a solid receiver at a reduced rate.

Darrell Jackson (D-Jack) is a solid receiver who is a great route runner and is a legitimate deep threat. D-Jack is 28 years old and still has plenty gas left in the tank, according to Seahawks publisher, Ryan Davis. One of the only knocks on Jackson is his recent injury history, as he has missed 13 games over the last two seasons. Jackson has suddenness, and has averaged 14.6 yards per catch over his career. Jackson has averaged over 60 receptions, and nearly 1000 yards per season over his career, with 47 touchdowns.

It is somewhat of a wonder why the Seahawks are so eager to trade D-Jack. Many figure that it's a combination of a change in the Seahawks front office, as well as the acquisition and large contract of Deion Branch, and the emergence of D.J. Hackett. Another reason is D-Jack's salary. Jackson is due $3.25 million for the 2007 season, and $4.75 million in 2008 and 2009. With the seven-year $49 million contract that Branch signed, the Seahawks already have plenty of salary cap space tied up at the wide receiver position. It has been reported by many sources that the Seahawks would be more than happy to receive a third-round pick for D-Jack. If a #3 is their asking price right now, it is possible that a fourth-round pick could snag him come draft day.

So how would Jackson fit in with the Jaguars? D-Jack is a local University of Florida product, so many of the home fans should like that (which doesn't really matter) about him. Jackson would clearly be the most proven and accomplished receiver on the Jaguars roster, and he can give an added dimension to the offense (in case Northcutt doesn't work out). Regarding the salary, Jackson's $3.25 million is less than a lot of teams payed for lesser talent, including the Jaguars, who invested $4.5 million in guaranteed money in Dennis Northcutt. If Jackson plays well in 2007, the team can either pay him the $4.75 million in '08, or re-work his deal. Ernest Wilford is an unrestricted free agent after the 2007 season, and the Jaguars will likely be looking for a replacement. Also, Reggie Williams can void his contract after the '07 season, and if Jackson is on the roster, the Jaguars will have a little bit of leverage when negotiating with Reggie (assuming they wish to negotiate).

It has been said many times by the Jaguars front office, especially head coach Jack Del Rio that the Jaguars would like to develop their young wide receivers. That's a great idea, but at what expense? If the team has a poor year in 2007, it is possible, not likely, but possible that Del Rio might not be around to see '08. This is also the final audition for Byron Leftwich, and a receiver who runs routes as well as Jackson will allow Byron to play his best. The Jaguars owe it to their young quarterback to give him a fighting chance with a proven veteran receiver who is still in his prime. Leftwich has never played with anyone who has met that criteria. What is the worst thing that can happen if the Jaguars make this deal? The salary cap room is there to absorb D-Jacks '07 salary if he doesn't pan out. A fourth round pick is likely to get the Jaguars a career backup, and the teams' current crop of reserves are among the league's best at every position. With any deal, there is some risk, but it appears that the possible upside will far outweigh the negatives. If the Jaguars are serious about winning now, this is a deal that they should certainly look into.

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