Who are the winners and losers in the Jackson deal?

Who are the winners and losers in the Jackson deal?
April 18, 2014, 10:00 am
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Tandler - Tarik

The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.

What effect will the Jackson signing have on the other receivers?

The Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver seemed to be shaping up quite nicely after a couple of weeks of free agency. The team had added Andre Roberts to start opposite Pierre Garçon and Santana Moss was back in the fold. Leonard Hankerson was a wild card due to his knee injury and Aldrick Robinson might have been working his way into a regular role. There was a lot of talk about adding a wide receiver with the Redskins’ top pick in the draft. But then DeSean Jackson fell into their laps and that changed everything. Who are the winners and losers on the wide receiver corps in the wake of the Jackson deal?

Tandler: Pierre Garçon is the big winner. He should have more open space to work with as the speed of Jackson draws defensive attention away from last year’s NFL leader in receptions. But other than that, the rules of the zero sum game apply—gains by one player lead to equal losses by another player or players. Passes thrown to Jackson are throws that won’t be targeted to Roberts or Moss. They will probably line up in three receiver sets a lot but when they don’t it will be Roberts who is a spectator. Sounds like Roberts is a loser in the deal already and he said as much last week. Robinson will get fewer chances to solidify the gains he had towards the end of last year. Moss will be at best the fourth receiver. Hankerson will be hard pressed to get snaps. Not good news for any of them but they each have had at least three years to show that the organization that it didn’t need to go out and get another receiver and they didn’t make their case.

El-Bashir: I’m going to go with Robert Griffin III as the big winner. No player on the Redskins was set to face as much scrutiny as RG3 in 2014. But the addition of Jackson should alleviate some of the pressure on Griffin while also increasing his margin for error. Jackson provides Griffin with the deep threat the offense had lacked. As Rich pointed out, Jackson will also take some of the heat off of Garçon. Morris, meanwhile, will face fewer eight-man fronts with defenses now forced to respect the Redskins’ passing attack. Griffin’s biggest challenge, it seems, will be ensuring that he keeps everyone happy by spreading the ball around. The losers are any skilled players not named Griffin, Garçon, Jackson or Morris. Jordan Reed figures to be targeted less. Andre Roberts, who signed here hoping to be a No. 2, has been knocked down to a No. 3 before the start of OTAs. And as long as everyone stays healthy, it’s hard to envision much of a role for Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, especially when you consider that Jay Gruden also likes a pass catching option out of the backfield. After all, there's just one football.

20 questions: