Redskins hosting free agent wideout Jackson on two-day visit
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2013 file photo, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia. The Eagles have released Jackson. The team cut Jackson on Friday, March 28, 2014. He was coming off a career-best season in Philadelphia, leading the team with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
WASHINGTON – The Washington Redskins kicked off their two-day visit yesterday evening with wide receiver DeSean Jackson – their most high-profile target yet in free agency.
Jackson flew from Los Angeles to Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia, where representatives from the team picked him up. Jackson then went to dinner with Redskins Coach Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator Sean McVay and other members of the coaching staff.
Today’s schedule was expected to feature meetings with General Manager Bruce Allen, Gruden, McVay and wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard, as well as a physical.
The Redskins are the first team Jackson has met with since the Philadelphia Eagles released him Friday.
Meanwhile, the Redskins agreed to a deal with free agent safety Ryan Clark, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed. Terms of the contract were not immediately available.
The Redskins had pursued Clark for the better part of three weeks after hosting him for a visit March 13. The Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks also had expressed interest in Clark, who opted to explore his options before settling on a team.
Clark, 34, spent the first two seasons of his 12-year career with the New York Giants, then played for Washington in 2004 and 2005. Washington let him depart via free agency in 2006, and he spent the past eight seasons with the Steelers, helping them win Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 and earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2011.
Safety is an area of need for Washington with unproven second-year players Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo on the roster.
According to people with knowledge of the situation, Redskins officials were in agreement on the decision to pursue Jackson, but the team might not be willing to offer the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver a highly lucrative contract.
The Redskins believe Jackson can significantly upgrade their offense. The team’s decision makers envision a receiving unit comprising Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and tight end Jordan Reed as an explosive collection of weapons for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Two people classified the Redskins as “all in” in their pursuit of Jackson. But they acknowledged it remains unclear whether Washington will be able to meet Jackson’s contract demands. Another person familiar with the team’s deliberations said the team will sign Jackson only “if he’ll come on the cheap.”
The Redskins had roughly $6.8 million of space available under the salary cap before signing Clark. Two other teams interested in Jackson’s services – the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills – each have roughly $14 million in cap space.
Washington, which still has remaining needs in addition to wide receiver, could try to lure Jackson with a deal that features a lower base salary and a more significant prorated signing bonus in an attempt to avoid absorbing all of its cap space.
Jackson, who had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns with Philadelphia in 2013, finds himself at the center of controversy after his release. He reportedly clashed with Eagles Coach Chip Kelly last season and occasionally showed up late to meetings in 2013. Jackson also has been reported to have ties to gang members, although a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department told the Philadelphia Daily News that Jackson was not linked to gang activity in his home town of Los Angeles.
The Eagles released Jackson after failing to find a trade partner. The wide receiver had fallen out of favor two years after signing a five-year, $48.5 million contract extension and just one season into Kelly’s tenure with the Eagles.