NFL News & Analysis

Los Angeles Rams WR DeSean Jackson out vs. Houston Texans as he seeks trade

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson (1) runs for a first down after a complete pass in the second half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson won’t play this weekend as he seeks a trade, head coach Sean McVay announced Friday.

The Rams are allowing Jackson to find a new team prior to next week’s Nov. 2 trade deadline.

“What it boils down to is opportunities that I think he is deserving of and the situation and some of the circumstances that surround it,” McVay said Friday.

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Jackson signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Rams this offseason. He can earn another $1.75 million in incentives tied into playing time and team success. Jackson can’t hit any of those incentives unless he plays 40 percent of offensive snaps. Jackson has played just 22.6 percent of snaps this season while working behind Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson on Los Angeles’ wide receiver depth chart.

The Rams would save around $1.5 million in 2021 salary cap space if they trade Jackson. They’d also save cash and future cap space tied into Jackson’s per-game roster bonuses, which equal out to around $1 million if he plays the final 10 games of the season.

If the Rams can’t find a trade partner and Jackson still wants to move on, the Rams could release him and save at least $600,000 in salary cap space and $1.6 million in total cash.

Beyond Kupp, Woods and Jefferson, the Rams also roster rookie wideouts Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek in addition to practice-squad receivers Landen Akers and J.J. Koski. Atwell, like Jackson, is an undersized speedster. The 57th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is 5-foot-9, 165 pounds and ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at his pro day this spring.

DeSean Jackson's snaps played and overall grade by year since 2017
Year Team Snaps Played Overall Grade
2017 (14 games) Buccaneers 669 76.4
2018 (12 games) Buccaneers 528 81.4
2019 (three games) Eagles 74 80.1
2020 (five games) Eagles 189 66.8
2021 (seven games) Rams  104 72.5

Jackson has earned a 72.5 overall PFF grade while playing sparingly this season. Kupp is PFF’s second-highest graded (89.9) wide receiver this season. Woods has earned a 75.4 overall PFF grade while Jefferson — Los Angeles No. 3 receiver as a second-year pro — has a 65.1 overall PFF grade.

As for teams who could be interested in Jackson, the AFC’s Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers make sense since they don’t share a conference with the Rams.

For the Colts, Jackson battled injuries for much of his time spent with the Philadelphia Eagles over the 2019-20 seasons, but when healthy, he and quarterback Carson Wentz had a solid connection. Jackson earned a 73.0 receiving grade with eight explosive receptions, an average depth of target of 15.9 yards and 17.2 yards per reception.

He’s still among the league’s top burners when healthy even at 34 years old, as illustrated by his 75-yard touchdown catch from Matthew Stafford in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Colts lost wide receiver Parris Campbell for the season once again, and longtime Colts WR T.Y. Hilton has been battling injuries all season long as well. Jackson could help take the top off opposing defenses in an effort create lighter boxes for star running back Jonathan Taylor while providing an occasional splash play.

For the Chargers, Jackson signed with the Rams in part because it meant a return to his native California. Jackson was a consensus All-American with the California Golden Bears in 2006 and 2007 after growing up in the Los Angeles area. This move keeps Jackson in Los Angeles, but the Rams get him out of the NFC if they’re concerned about sending him to a fellow playoff contender in their conference.


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