- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The pitches arrived steadily, one after another, and DeSean Jackson felt revitalized.

Released last week by the Philadelphia Eagles, the wide receiver struggled to comprehend how a player who had performed as well as he had over his first six seasons could suddenly find himself out of a job.

Yet it didn’t take long for several Washington Redskins players to reach out to Jackson on behalf of their team. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, in Los Angeles to do promotional work for Adidas, met up with Jackson in person. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, long an adversary on the field but a confidant off it, told him how much of an impact he could make in Washington.

Jackson was sold. Not even a week later, he signed a contract with the Redskins on Wednesday worth up to $24 million over three years – a far cry from the $10.5 million base salary he was scheduled to command this year from the Eagles.

“It was a humbling experience for myself, being at the peak of my career and doing some great things in this league the first six years,” Jackson said. “At the same time, moving forward is the best for me, and it’s the best ahead of me as well.”

By adding Jackson, the Redskins have gained one of the top receivers in the game – a elite deep threat who has averaged 60 receptions and more than 1,000 receiving yards in the six seasons since Philadelphia drafted him in the second round out of California in 2008.

“We are excited to have him join our team,” Griffin III wrote in a text message Wednesday morning. “Our team and this city will be there for him. I understand his drive and his competitiveness to win. Always doing it for his dad [Bill, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009] and now doing it for this city.”

Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Eagles, who made a surprising run to the NFC East title, and he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl for the third time.

Despite his success, Jackson failed to mesh with first-year coach Chip Kelly, who installed a highly structured environment during his first season in Philadelphia. Last week, speaking at the owner’s meetings in Orlando, Kelly declined to elaborate on Jackson’s status with the team, and he was released two days later – a move that will cost the Eagles $6 million against the salary cap in 2014.

An investigative report by NJ.com also outlined Jackson’s connections to a Los Angeles-area gang, including his interaction with a gang member who was charged with, but acquitted of, the murder of a 14-year-old in Los Angeles in 2010.

Jackson immediately released a statement through his personal publicist decrying any gang affiliations, and he declined to address any specifics of his characterization when asked on Wednesday.

“The best that I can say is that I’m moving forward, man, and I’m gonna do everything I need to do to be a Washington Redskin and do my job at the utmost and be respected by people in this league and people in this organization,” Jackson said.

If Jackson reaches even his career averages with the Redskins, he’ll revitalize a passing game that was otherwise pedestrian last season. Washington had the ninth-ranked offense, and 16th-ranked passing offense, under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is now with the Cleveland Browns.

Jackson, who was timed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash during the NFL combine in 2008, figures to provide a deep threat the Redskins haven’t had for years. And, he’ll join wide receiver Pierre Garçon, who caught a team record 113 passes for 1,346 yards last season, the recently signed Andre Roberts and second-year tight end Jordan Reed in a potent passing game.

“We’re excited to have him,” Gruden said in a press release announcing Jackson’s signing. “Any time you have an opportunity to get a splash player like DeSean Jackson, you have to do your best to get him. Fortunately [general manager] Bruce Allen and [owner] Dan Snyder got it done, but we’re excited to have the competitor and the player of DeSean’s caliber.”

Jackson arrived in Northern Virginia on Monday and dined with members of the Redskins‘ coaching staff that night before meeting with other team personnel and taking a physical on Tuesday.

Though Jackson’s visit ended, he never left the area, and minutes before midnight, his publicist wrote on Twitter that Jackson had agreed to a contract with the Redskins.

“Whatever the role is, I’ll be happy to play it,” Jackson said. “Anything I’m asked to do, I’m going to go out there and do it to the utmost ability and have fun doing it at the same time. I think the biggest thing about this move is finding a place where I can be happy and just go out there and by myself, so I think here was the best fit for that. I’m very excited about it.”

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