The Los Angeles Rams made two big statement moves this offseason by trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford and re-signing edge-rusher Leonard Floyd. The cap-strapped Rams had to operate in the margins. That meant losing several key pieces to free agency and acquiring affordable veterans.
The Rams’ offense desperately needed speed when both Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett departed. Neither player developed into a consistent playmaker despite their athleticism. Sean McVay decided to add speed with DeSean Jackson.
Jackson has been a human highlight reel throughout his career. The 34-year-old is now in the twilight days, entering his 14th season. The thought of Jackson is illustrious because he still has the deep speed of almost any burner in the league. His one-year, $4.5 million deal shows the team values his potential contribution. Can he actually help the Rams this year? We’re going to break down every angle of the Rams’ fit and Jackson’s remaining impact.
What Jackson Brings to the Rams
On paper this signing fills a big need. The loss of Brandin Cooks via trade two years ago is actually what led the Rams to pursue Jackson. Cooks was the modern-day Jackson, but the Rams couldn’t pay his bloated salary, and hoped Reynolds was ready to take the role thanks to his own deep receiving ability.
Jackson can slide into the Z-receiver role but not on a full-time basis if history repeats itself. Though Jackson says he’s now fully 100 percent healthy, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013 and has only done so twice in his career. Injuries have plagued him in recent years, causing him to miss 24 games in the last two seasons. Remember that when looking at the Rams for your sports betting.
The Rams have one of the best training staffs in the league based on their recent track record and they’re banking on them to keep him on the field. Rotating Jackson with another speedster would be another way to ensure he’s available for a large chunk of the season. If they can, Jackson’s signing may not mirror the Bears’ signing of Ted Ginn, who made no impact for the team in 2020 despite needing his downfield presence.
Impact on the Passing Game
The idea of Jackson with Stafford is tantalizing if it works as well as it does in Madden. But Stafford is a relatively mediocre deep passer despite his arm strength, and Jackson’s lack of availability since 2018 makes it hard to know if he can still reliably separate from corners. There’s more downside to the signing than there is upside with all things considered from an asset spending side and injury risk.
Best case for the Rams and fantasy owners is for Jackson to continue being a low-volume, high efficiency target like he’d been over the last three years. His 2018 season would be an incredible outcome for this value. He averaged 18.9 yards per reception on 41 catches. That was good for 9.2 fantasy points per game and 110 total on the year.
The Rams should slightly increase their passing volume with the transition from Jared Goff to Stafford since McVay believes in the veteran more. There’s room for Jackson to naturally slide into Reynold’s 81 targets even with Cooper Kupp back for a full slate. The dilemma likely coming is how much will Jackson split with a rookie if the Rams draft one on Day 3, which they should due to their lack of a long-term solution to their speed problem.
Will Jackson Help the Rams?
The answer of whether Jackson can help the Rams in 2021 is absolutely a “yes”, but the likelihood he’s a difference maker in more than two or three games is low. Jackson has to stay available, and develop chemistry with Stafford in a way that Stafford never has with a true speedster. He’s done well with big receivers who win at the catch point and hasn’t proven he can hit speed threats deep in stride consistently.
We’re selling Jackson’s overall impact on the season and his fantasy outlook unless you’re in a deep league and want a flier pickup for cheap. Rams backers should be careful on overestimating this signing when making NFL Picks.