During an interview with Ashley Nicole Moss of Sports Illustrated earlier this week, Jackson said he was mulling retirement after 14 seasons in the NFL but mentioned a few opportunities that could persuade him to stick around for the 2022 season, including one with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
“If the right situation calls and (with) a great quarterback — not a good quarterback, great,” Jackson said about whether he would consider playing a 15th season in 2022. “There’s a few teams, I’m going to throw out the feelers. The Chiefs may be one, the Browns. Russell Wilson in Denver, Green Bay. … So we’ll see for sure.”
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Jackson Remains Impactful – When Healthy
Jackson established himself as one of the NFL’s all-time great deep threats, putting up more than 1,000 yards in five seasons and getting named to three Pro Bowl rosters. He also currently holds the league record for career touchdowns of 60-plus yards (26) and is tied with Derrick Alexander, Lance Alworth, Bob Hayes and Jerry Rice for most career touchdowns of 80-plus yards (five).
Though Jackson, 35, is no longer in his prime, he has shown in recent seasons he is still capable of making an impact when healthy enough to take the field. Jackson caught 20 passes for an average of 22.7 yards per reception during his regular-season stints with the Los Angeles Rams (seven games) and Las Vegas Raiders (nine games) in 2021. He also came up big in the playoffs. With the Raiders down 26-16 with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter of their AFC wild-card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Jackson hauled in a fourth-down 26-yard pass that put the Raiders at the Cincinnati 30-yard-line. A few plays later, the Raiders kicked a field goal to pull within one score of the Bengals.
Too Much Risk With Jackson?
Still, there are plenty of concerns associated with giving Jackson a shot.
Though he didn’t miss any time with injuries last season, his injury history becomes more troubling the farther back you look. He missed 11 games in 2020 due to a combination of hamstring and low-back injuries and finished the 2019 season on injured reserve after undergoing core-muscle surgery. In fact, Jackson has played every game of a season only twice in his career, most recently in 2013.
There is also a matter of cost. Just a year ago, Jackson signed a one-year contract with the Rams that carried a base value of $4.5 million and offered incentives that would have allowed him to take it up at $6.25 million. If would be looking for a remotely similar deal with the Packers, they likely would have to count themselves out. After all, they just signed Watkins to a more team-friendly deal — one that carries a 2022 cap hit of just $2.17 million and a maximum value of $4 million via incentives.
The Packers could pull it off if there were enough mutual interest. A deal with incentives would allow them to minimize risk, but it might not make much sense if they intended to find a new receiver (or a few) in next week’s 2022 NFL draft.
Jackson requested a trade from the Rams in October 2021 after not getting enough attention in the offseason — and was ultimately released to accommodate his desire to move on.