TAMPA — DeSean Jackson asked for a trade from the Bucs, was clearly frustrated by the lack of a connection with Jameis Winston, didn't fight too hard to come back from a thumb injury he had already played with and sold his home in Tampa Bay.
But according to a report Saturday on NFLN by Ian Rapoport, new Bucs coach Bruce Arians wants to re-recruit Jackson for a third year in Tampa Bay.
Forget that the $10 million owed Jackson as part of the three-year, $33.5-million contract he signed in 2016 is not guaranteed, or that the Bucs have other glaring needs and not much money under the salary cap.
Rapoport says Arians wants to convince Jackson he can play a big role in his offense even with Winston pulling the trigger.
"One of the first things that Bruce Arians did upon getting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job was reach out to people about getting a phone number for DeSean Jackson," Rapoport said Saturday. "What B.A. intends to do, and they haven't connected yet, what he intends to do is re-recruit DeSean Jackson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. … So what B.A. wants to do is keep him there and convince him that DeSean Jackson can be a big part of the offense with Arians now."
Of Jackson's 774 receiving yards, 561 yards and four of his five touchdowns came from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who completed 71 percent of his targets to him. Winston completed 37.8 percent of his targets to Jackson.
It's hard to fathom the Bucs keeping a 32-year-old Jackson for $10 million with the needs they have on defense and on the offensive line.
It's even harder to imagine Jackson wanting to remain with the Bucs.
But remember, Jackson's salary is not guaranteed until the start of the regular season. By then, free agency and the draft will have passed. Even training camp and the preseason can elapse with no cost to the Bucs.
Maybe a top team loses a receiver and makes an offer for Jackson. Maybe after free agency, when the Bucs don't let go of him, a trade market surfaces.
But it seems a little hard to believe that Jackson will be playing in Tampa Bay in 2019. And I suspect the person most skeptical about Jackson being with the Bucs for a third season is Jackson himself.
Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud