The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a pretty small but very efficient footprint in free agency. Most notably, they signed defensive tackle Chris Baker and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Football Outsiders did their advanced stats/contracts thing and analyzed which signings were the best value for money, according to their metrics—which, to be honest, are pretty dubious in this case. Forecasting is hard with crude measures of quality like AV.
Still, they think the Bucs had two really good signings: defensive tackle Chris Baker, and safety J.J. Wilcox. Both of their contracts are apparently great value for money.
Chris Baker is a fantastic signing; one of my favorite of the entire offseason. The Buccaneers have been looking for someone to stick alongside Gerald McCoy, and Baker's a great addition at a very reasonable price. He'll help make Tampa Bay a nightmare to run against, and he's not someone who needs to be replaced on passing downs. A very nice bit of value, there.
Surprisingly, Outsiders was less impressed with DeSean Jackson as a signing. Not in terms of quality, as they think he was the best receiver available, but in terms of value: $12 million per year is a lot of cash for an older receiver.
DeSean Jackson is projected as the best receiver in this bunch, but nearly $12 million a season for a receiver past his 30th birthday is a very large pill to swallow. As long as Jackson keeps putting up 1,000 yard seasons, the contract is fine. However, it's tough for receivers to keep up that high level of performance into their 30s. The size of the deal means the Buccaneers are realistically tied to Jackson for the next two seasons, paying him like a top-10 receiver. He arguably was a top 10 receiver last season, but if his speed dries up in the next few years, the deal may well feel like an albatross.
One significant mitigating factor: the Bucs don’t really care that much about the $2 million per year or so they’re paying over market value. They have plenty of cap space, and overpaying a little bit for a unique talent is a justifiable move. Where else are they going to get a DeSean Jackson, after all?
Add in the fact that Jackson has shown no signs of slowing down yet — and other speedsters kept up their production until very late in their careers, including former Bucs receiver Joey Galloway. He put up 1,000-yard seasons all the way up until he was 37.
That doesn’t mean Jackson will manage to do that, but there’s really little reason to assume he’ll collapse any time soon. And if he does, the Bucs can say goodbye with no commitments starting in 2019 — so it’s not like they’ll be stuck with his contract for ages.