Following his release from the Philadelphia Eagles, DeSean Jackson has become a wanted man around the NFL. Minutes after hit the free-agent market, Adam Schefter reported that six teams (and counting) have already contacted the wideout's agent. One of those teams may have been the Carolina Panthers. Head coach Ron Rivera told USA Today that his team would be interested in acquiring Jackson:
"We'd be interested. He's an intriguing player and we'll take a look at him,'' Rivera told USA TODAY Sports from the West Coast. "I just got word and this is surprising to hear. He's an explosive player who has great vertical speed and is strong going to the ball."
DeSean Jackson rumors
DeSean Jackson rumors
The swift reaction from needy teams shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Jackson is coming off a career season during which he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He would fit nicely with the Panthers, who released long-time vertical threat Steve Smith, who then signed with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. The Panthers also lost Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr., in free agency, so they are desperately in need of warm bodies, much less good ones.
One obstacle for the Panthers could be Jackson's potentially high price tag. Though he will likely command a cheaper contract, Jackson was set to make $10.5 million next season in Philadelphia. He has held out for big paydays in the past, as well. The Panthers currently have roughly $5 million in cap space.
Rivera didn't comment on the Jackson's apparent off-field problems. A NJ.com report released Friday suggested that Jackson had connections with Los Angeles gang members that concerned the Eagles. Whether the report will affect his market value remains to be seen. Schefter spoke with a source who debunked the report:
Text from person not financially connected to DJax: "Known DeSean since he was born. Over 25 years DeSean is NOT affiliated w any La gangs."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2014
There are plenty of teams that could be interested in Jackson's services. The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly already thrown their hat in the ring, according to Danny Parkins of 610 AM in Kansas City. Beyond the Panthers and the Chiefs, the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and San Francisco 49ers also have a dearth of pass catchers. With offers arriving quickly, it'll be interesting to see how long Jackson allows the bidding wars to continue before choosing a new home.