The Redskins face a tough decision as both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon face free agency, and coach Jay Gruden talked about what makes for the best player to keep. Jackson and Garçon went for more than 1,000 receiving yards this season, but Washington's coach explained statistics don't completely tell the story.
"It’s our job to make sure we target the ones we definitely want back that really have an impact on this football team, not only from a talent standpoint but from a leadership standpoint," he said. "Both of those areas are very important to me, almost more so as a leadership standpoint."
Watching the receivers, Garçon brings a more consistent approach at practice and on the field. He has played in all 16 games for the Redskins the last four seasons. In getting to 79 catches and 1,041 yards on the season, Garçon went over 100 yards in a game only once.
Jackson, on the other hand, brings more explosiveness. Known for his top-end speed, Jackson has missed eight games for the 'Skins in three years. His stats show his big-play ability, as he's averaged at least 17.6 yards-per-catch in all three of his seasons in Washington. Jackson finished the year with 1,005 yards on 56 catches; just 36 yards less than Garçon on 23 fewer catches.
There are more also subtle differences between the two players.
At the Redskins Park practice facility each day, both players seem to get along with teammates, but Garçon looks to be more involved with the offense off the field. Whether it's coincidence or not, Garçon's locker is situated next to fellow wideouts while Jackson's is on the other side of the locker room. And when it comes to durability, the 6-foot, 210 lbs. Garçon rarely shows up on the injury report or misses practice. This season, the 5-foot-10, 178 lbs. Jackson often missed practices during the week while dealing with a number of different injuries.
For weeks, there have been rumors connecting Jackson back to Philadelphia, where he played before joining the Redskins in 2014. The nine-year veteran dismissed the speculation last week, but allowed that he was 'definitely intrigued' by the free agency process. The rumor mill has been much quieter regarding Garçon, and it seems likely the 31-year-old will cost less on the open market.
It seems Gruden's comments might signal the receiver he would prefer to see back in Burgundy and Gold.
"A lot of these guys have talent, but we have got to make sure we keep the great leaders in this building," Gruden said.
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