With a desperate need for a number two wide receiver, could the Buccaneers look to keep Vincent Jackson around?
With growing optimism surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moving forward, and rightfully so, there are a few areas that need addressing before the 2017 season. One of the main positions needing attention going onward is the wide receiving core. Many have speculated on the direction the Buccaneers should take to upgrade the position, but retaining Vincent Jackson could be a route the Bucs should take a look at.
Vincent Jackson did enjoy early success in Tampa after signing a five-year, $55.56 million contract in 2012. Jackson spent his first three seasons with the Buccaneers playing in every game, collecting over 1,000 yards receiving each year and accumulating 17 touchdowns. The past two seasons, however, Jackson has had trouble staying healthy, dealing with knee ailments that has seen him play in only 15 games.
Although Vincent Jackson hasn’t had much luck with the injury bug lately, and has seen his stats decline in each season he has been a member of the Buccaneers, there is value in offering Jackson a ‘prove it’ type contract. Being able to sign a seasoned veteran at a low cap hit could wind up being a home run for the Buccaneers.
Although the Bucs have plenty of cap room this season, bringing in a wide receiver via the draft to take over the number two spot could prove to be the wisest move. Sure there are plenty of enticing options in free agency, but with the NFL becoming a pass happy league, the yearly salary for top-tier wide receivers continues to grow. With Mike Williams (Clemson), Corey Davis (Western Michigan) and John Ross (Washington) all expected to be drafted in the first round, there are options available to the Buccaneers with their first-round choice.
If Tampa did decide to draft a WR with their first-round pick, the average age of their current wide receivers would be under 24 years old, and although youth is a good thing, a veteran anchor needs to be a part of this receiving core to keep their heads on straight.
Enter Vincent Jackson.
Jackson, 34, has 12 years of experience under his belt in the NFL. Offering him a one-year deal would allow him to pick up the rookie slack, while the young wide receiving core gets another year (or first year) of experience under their belts. While Mike Evans was enjoying much success in his rookie campaign, Evans praised Jackson for being like a big brother to him and helping him become a better player on the field and a better person off of it.
In case you missed it, Evans has turned out to be a pretty special player. Letting Vincent Jackson play mentor to the young receiving staff while trying himself to prove he has tread left on his tires may prove to be the best route.
If Jackson cannot shake the injury bug or has his age catch up to him and performs poorly in 2017, there are still options in the future. Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown, to name a few, are all set to become free agents following the 2017 year, and would look good in red, black and pewter come 2018.