Wide receivers have dominated the news in the first two days of free agency -- Vincent Jackson heading to the Bucs, DeSean Jackson re-upping with the Eagles, Brandon Marshall being dealt to the Bears, Calvin Johnson sticking in Detroit, Pierre Garcon signing with the Redskins, Laurent Robinson moving to Jacksonville, Reggie Wayne staying put in Indy, Randy Moss going to the Niners and a few others. There has been plenty of excitement over these deals, but which of these guys will offer the least bang for the buck in 2012?
Committing long-term to DeSean is scary propositionThis isn't to suggest Randy Moss will be a massive success in his comeback with the 49ers, nor is it to say Brandon Marshall will keep his nose completely clean in Chicago, but both of those teams at least got their wide receivers with minimal financial risk. The Eagles, though, retained their own controversial wide receiver by dishing out a huge price for a player who has been anything but easy to manage.
Philadelphia had DeSean Jackson locked up for a one-year price of $9.5 million. Now? It's five years for $48.5 million. That's all well and good if a new contract means Jackson will be a happy man. But for how long? And will his new financial comfort cause him to grow more comfortable to speak his mind and become more of a liability? We'll see.
But for now, no matter how much of a talent that Jackson might be, any long-term commitment to an outspoken receiver always feels a little scary.
Pressure will be on Garcon to performMost of these deals are fairly team-friendly and protect against major risk. Pierre Garcon's deal is one that I'd say is a little more buyer beware for someone who has struggled with consistency and will be thrust into a new setting.
Will he really emerge as a consistent deep threat? If you compare his numbers to the other guys Washington has eyed, and to what it had last year in Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney, well, there isn't much difference. But you don't see those guys getting over $20 million guaranteed.
Garcon will have to perform like a true No. 1 and help spur the growth of RG3 for this to be worthwhile.
Redskins experiment will be one to watchI'm most intrigued by what the Redskins are doing. If you bring in Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and (maybe) Eddie Royal, and pay them the kind of money the Redskins are throwing out, it means expectations will be high. It also means you plan on utilizing a lot of three-wide formations.
It's forward-thinking and it could work, depending on a few factors. One is how these guys perform together, with rookie Robert Griffin III throwing them the ball. Another will be predicated by the play of the running back. I think the Redskins believe Roy Helu is their guy, and it will be up to him to keep the defenses off-balance. Of course, RG3 will help things there, as well.
Jaguars-Robinson, Redskins-Garcon both are head-scratchersBoth the Pierre Garcon and Laurent Robinson deals give me pause.
With Garcon, the issue is the guaranteed money. If the guy struggles, he still gets paid $20.5 million. He's never been a certifiable No. 1 option, either.
Although Robinson is getting a hefty guaranteed package himself (in the neighborhood of $14 million), productivity is the concern. Big concern. Yes, he caught 11 touchdown passes -- but that was with Tony Romo throwing him the ball, on a fast track, with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin (when healthy) taking bracket coverage to their side of the field. That's just a hair better than Blaine Gabbert, with no one to take double teams away.
It's understandable that Robinson wants to be the guy in an offense, which he would never be in Dallas. But the ancillary parts in Jacksonville, if not the relatively unproven Robinson, might ensure this deal does not get as much value as others across the league.
Moss fighting an uphill battle in San FranciscoRandy Moss. No question.
We are assuming this is the Moss of old -- a deep threat who can scare defenses. That remains to be seen. If he has lost some of his speed, teams simply will be physical with him in press coverage and stop him that way. If Moss regains his old form, teams simply will double him and limit his production, forcing other Niners to beat them.
If Moss forces double teams, the player who will benefit the most is Vernon Davis.
Unproven Robinson walking into difficult situation in JacksonvilleThe answer is Laurent Robinson, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Robinson played well last season, but his previous career high in catches was in the 30s.
New head coach Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and QB coach Greg Olson are all excellent, but they have a tough task ahead of them in punching up the Jaguars' passing game. This is a new coaching staff and system for second-year QB Blaine Gabbert, who had a difficult rookie year.
No way is DeSean worth the riskLet me get this straight: DeSean Jackson loafs through 2011, gets benched for a game, doesn't produce and still gets five years and $48.5 million dollars from Philadelphia? Were all the game tapes erased like in Spygate, leaving the Eagles without any evaluation tools?
Seriously, there's too much money going to plenty of players the past couple of days. Tampa paid too much for Vincent Jackson, the 49ers basically handed $4 million to Randy Moss (though it's all incentive-based), and I think the Redskins accidentally faxed their offer to Pierre Garcon instead of the 1995 Jerry Rice. But still, this kind of scratch for DeSean is too much of a risk.
This situation was tailor-made for the Eagles to walk away from Jackson before even franchise tagging him. Jeremy Maclin would have inherited the role of Defense Stretcher, and Philadelphia could have had its pick of any free-agent WR in a very deep class. They could have paid less and gotten the same amount of production. As dangerous as Jackson is, he's not going to catch more than 50 passes for you. There's money better spent.