Skip to content

Need to Know: Is Jackson’s absence from some Redskins OTAs an issue?

May 26, 2016, 5:26 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 26, 63 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 137 days ago. It will be 109 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 63; Preseason opener @ Falcons 77; Final roster cut 100

Hot topic—DeSean’s absent (again)

It’s becoming an annual event around Ashburn—sorting out whether or not fans should be upset that DeSean Jackson was absent for part of voluntary OTAs.

Jackson was not present at Wednesday’s OTA session, the first one that was open to the media. According to reports he did not attend on Tuesday either and his attendance at the offseason program, which started last month, has been sporadic.

His absence did not bother the quarterback. “He knows what is best for him and what he needs to get ready for the fall,” said Kirk Cousins.

Jackson not being there did not seem to particularly rattle his head coach either. “He’s been in the league nine years, he knows what he has to do,” said Gruden.

Head coaches need to be very careful about what they say about attendance during the offseason program. As noted, showing up is voluntary and anything a coach said that can perceived as putting pressure on a player to show up can be frowned upon by the players union. So if Gruden is unhappy he probably wouldn’t say much about it.

When the Redskins signed Jackson in 2014 they knew what they were getting. He wasn’t big on showing up at offseason workout when he was with the Eagles and there was no reason to believe that he would change.

But it appears that Jackson would have some legitimate incentive to attend the workouts this year. For one thing there was a pretty strong financial incentive in the form of a $500,000 workout bonus. The past tense is used there because he already has missed too many workouts to be able to qualify for it.

There also is the fact that last year was the worst of his career. He missed six games with a hamstring injury and he had career lows in receptions (30) and receiving yards (528). The injury happened early in the first game of the season after he had spotty attendance at OTAs and was out for most of training camp and all of the preseason games with a shoulder injury.

There is no definitive link between his relatively light workload leading up to the season opener and the hamstring issue. But after the injury last fall he admitted that there may have been. So why take the chance of having another lost season due to injuries? Why not just show up in Ashburn, do the work, collect your $500K and take your vacation from mid-June until training camp starts in late July. That puts more money in your pocket and eliminates a relatively light offseason workload as a possible reason if he does get injured.

There also is the age factor. Jackson will be 30 before the season ends. As players age, they need to work harder and harder in the offseason to be able to stay on the field. He can’t maintain the same work habits he had in his twenties and expect to be a productive player in his thirties.

Jackson knows all of this and he chooses to stay away anyway. That’s fine but the caveat is that he had better be ready for the season and he had better get through it injury free. If things don’t work out then in 2017 he could find himself as a 30-year-old free agent with a reputation for being fragile and not willing to put in the work that might help keep him on the field. The workouts being voluntary wouldn’t matter a whole lot to the people writing the checks and,, fair or not, the reputation would cost him a lot of money.

Maybe the worst-case scenario will not come to pass. Maybe he’ll do his thing during the offseason, catch 50 passes for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns and cash in with another big contract.

Jackson can make whatever choices he wants to. But he should be wary of the potential consequences of his choices.

In case you missed it 


  1. redskins12thman - May 26, 2016 at 5:50 AM

    The more reps between QBs and their receivers the better and the more time to learn new playbook wrinkles the better. It also would better support for team chemistry to have the entire team there but for one individual to be out is not a big deal.

    But as stipulated in the CBA, OTAs are voluntary so while I wish all Redskins players attend all of them, I can’t hold it against a current, veteran player if they don’t. Jackson is a vet who knows what it takes to be ready for the regular season.

    I believe Jackson could have earned a sizeable bonus by participating so he had some incentive to participate but had other priorities.


    • Skulb - May 26, 2016 at 9:35 AM

      Technically he doesn’t need it. This would be a non-issue if he hadn’t skipped loads of stuff last PS and then pulled his hammy in game 1.

    • colorofmyskinz - May 26, 2016 at 3:37 PM

      Issue for me given his issue of the pulled hammy last year. He has not learned apparently.

  2. skinsgame - May 26, 2016 at 7:07 AM

    Not to mention the arrogance factor of willfully walking away from $500k. Hard to root for a player who simply ignores enough money to change a life.

  3. sidepull - May 26, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    Yea but he has a TV show…..

  4. kenlinkins - May 26, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    Walking away from a cool half million dollars for about 15 days work really doesn’t scream “I am a football player who loves to play football”! But then again, not all football players are treated equal either! IMO when you have guys out there pushing to return from a injury early (maybe even a little too early) in order to increase their playing time or to just make the roster and someone like Jackson is not there, at some point some one will question his commitment to winning. (he’s making a list, he is checking it twice, he going to find out who’s worth the price, The GM is making his rounds)………

  5. blazerguy234 - May 26, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Consider Jackson`s age, the fact that he has already made millions of dollars, that he is a small guy, fragile, who has taken his share of hits. I would not be surprised to see him walk away from football after this year. Washington won`t be offering him a lot of money going forward, and I doubt many other teams would risk much either. In 2017, he would probably have to play for a lot less…I would be surprised if he would do that. Also, if he left D.C., for another team..that means learning a new offense again. He is definitely a bit flaky…so, who knows.

  6. renhoekk2 - May 26, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Players don’t skip team workouts because they can get in better shape on their own. There is only one reason to consistently skip team workouts and that is because you don’t won’t to do the work. Plain and simple. Voluntary or not. No one should believe for a second he is working out hard privately and is going to show up in great shape and be ready to work once it becomes mandatory. No doubt he’ll have his annual soft tissue injury (bruise or sprain) and have to miss some of training camp and pre-season work. Just to make sure he doesn’t work too hard.

    • bangkokben - May 26, 2016 at 10:07 AM

      This is patently false. Every professional athlete works out. You imply that they don’t unless they’re together and then if that’s so, what about the rest of the offseason?! Do you think that only ten days working out in May is all it takes to get physically ready for the season? Players skip these team workouts and voluntary practices because: 1) they’re voluntary, 2) the player is assured a spot on the team, and 3) the player isn’t a team player.

      The purpose of these OTAs is to install the base offense and defense for the guys who weren’t on the team before and the rest of the young guys. You need the veterans there to give an example of how it’s done. It’s mindless repetition of the basics. (2+2=4, 4+4=8, 8+8=16) Repeat it enough and it becomes second nature. Now everyone on the team understands “spider 2, Y banana” when the coach calls for it and has the muscle memory to repeat it. Vets don’t need it but if they all took Jackson’s position then the team would suck.

      • renhoekk2 - May 27, 2016 at 3:57 PM

        I am not going to try and change your opinion. I am not claiming he’s sitting on his butt playing XBox. I’m sure he’s doing the minimal cardio work to get through the mandatory mini-camp. If these OTA’s were as worthless as you make them out to be, the coaches wouldn’t be wasting their own time with it. I’ve been exposed to Jackson’s play sheet much more than most Skins fans since I live in suburban Philly. I don’t recall him ever showing up and participating in an entire off season program. I guarantee you he will miss some of training camp be it a few days whatever with a “tweaked” knee. I am not saying he doesn’t do any work, just that he’s never put the same work and dedication in as his teammates. EVER! He just wants to show up on Sundays and play football for three hours and nothing more.. And he wants to get paid a lot for doing it.

        • bangkokben - May 28, 2016 at 12:21 PM

          These OTAs ARE important to the coaches so that ALL the new guys learn the verbiage and the base offense and defense are installed. Then in training camp they can build from the basics. As for your assessment of Jackson, I don’t disagree except for the implication that he is only doing the minimal cardio. If that part is true the ten workouts here in April and May would be SOOOO beneficial for August and beyond. I wouldn’t be surprised if he missed some time in training camp due to a phantom injury but last year he missed time in TC because of running into a sled that was left too close to the sideline.

  7. baugh33 - May 26, 2016 at 11:11 AM

    This does not bother me at all. DeSean will be ready. In fact, I hope it leads to more chemistry between Cousins and Doctson. If this builds throughout the season and blossoms, we may be reading articles about Jackson missing “his first set of OTAs” with another team.

    • John - May 26, 2016 at 11:47 AM

      Doctson was drafted to eventually replace Garcon. Nobody on the current roster has a leg up on Jackson. Definitely not Ross, if he can’t handle the mental, much less physical aspects of the game.

  8. troylok - May 26, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    I kind of interpreted Gruden’s comments the other day as him being annoyed that Jackson was absent. As a coach, if you were given the choice between a player who comes to OTA’s and one that does not, you’d definitely want the guy who comes to OTA’s. It’s not just about the player getting in shape. It’s about building that concept of team, of getting the players to work together and it is also about installing some new concepts, as well as being sure the player is in shape.

    BTW, as a fan, I don’t want to root for a guy who doesn’t want to be a part of the team. I wouldn’t buy a DJax shirt to wipe my butt with.

    • lezziemcdykerson - May 26, 2016 at 3:40 PM

      But you’ll high five all your friends when he scores a 77 yd TD. Equilibrium?

      • Rod - May 26, 2016 at 5:19 PM

        Lol.. classic comeback line!

      • theismann7 - May 28, 2016 at 1:17 AM

        Well, considering he only had 30 catches last year and 4 TDs and didn’t bother to try and score in the playoff game against Green Bay, I’d say you’ll be high-fiving rarely.

        • lezziemcdykerson - May 28, 2016 at 5:02 AM

          Also injured most of the year… Then realize because he was back starting doesn’t mean he’s HEALTHY. First real injury “plagued” season. What was our record when he was out? Even he isn’t making catches he’s helping the team by being on the field.

  9. John - May 26, 2016 at 11:43 AM

    This is all jerseys, shorts and helmets. The only folks that have to be there are rookies and free agents, those guys who are praying for a spot on the team. Guys like Jackson who have been around and been here for at least 2 years don’t need to be here. The only folks who are the media stirring things up and fans who hyperventilate over things that don’t matter.

    Regarding Jacksons hammy last year, keep in mind he was injured during camp last year and held out after slamming into a blocking sled. That might have some impact on the injury in game 1. There are plenty of camps, etc., he can go to, to get in shape prior to training camp.

  10. gurnblanstonreturns - May 26, 2016 at 11:44 AM

    It would be great if the union and the league could get together and settle on an offseason schedule with only mandatory dates so we don’t go through this farce about “voluntary” workouts. They are not truly voluntary for any player competing for a job and result in ridiculous criticism of any player that does not participate. This is unnecessary noise.

  11. icdogg - May 26, 2016 at 12:28 PM

    Yeah but all that dough rolling in from his super successful rap career more than makes up for it

  12. goback2rfk - May 26, 2016 at 4:13 PM

    Jackson has his priorities set. His time is worth a lot of money and apparently 500K bonus was not going to get it done. Eventually jackson will be past his prime and thats what Rich was hinting at. You think the man would be working hard to secure a future deal whether here or somewhere else. oh well. i hope he plays well

  13. wncskinsfan - May 26, 2016 at 4:40 PM

    I think that his veteran skills could be used to help pull up the boot straps of younger guys . . . get the rookies in the playbook, improve those that need it. Not being there comes off as what I would suspect to be renegade within the culture that the Redskins are looking to develop. So all of this potentially causes mixed feelings. That being said, i hope he balls out and has a healthy year.

  14. lezziemcdykerson - May 26, 2016 at 7:49 PM

    Where’s Trey Gregory? I wanna argue! All jokes aside hopefully he does well this year. I’m not high on this guy but I won’t root against anyone on the team. If he beats out Vernon that would be a good sign.

  15. mtskins - May 26, 2016 at 10:14 PM

    Desean is not my favorite player on the team. Still while we would all like him to be there I don’t think his absence is a big deal. He might not fit with the the culture the team is trying to build but from what I read about the offensive numbers last year they seemed better when he was on the field. You can say what you want about him training the new WRS but Rashad Ross directly referenced Desean as the the reason he stuck to the roster last year. Apparently Ross has his haters on here but he figuring in his special teams value and a few big plays he still contributed.

    Hoping Desean has a great year. Would love to see it and hopefully cash in on a conditional pick when he goes because I don’t think he is on the roster for 2017.

    • redskins12thman - May 27, 2016 at 3:51 AM

      Yes. It would be great for DeSean to have a terrific season. Hope he continues to create separation on deep routes mixed in with some solid YAC after short passes.

      In what scenarios do the Redskins receive a conditional pick for DeSean?

      • mtskins - May 27, 2016 at 9:50 AM

        Sorry threw in conditional instead of compensatory.

  16. Bo - May 26, 2016 at 10:39 PM

    Same question every year.. move on

  17. Jimmy kubas - May 28, 2016 at 12:19 PM

    It’s not mandatory. He’s a vet.he knows d plays.his size makes it easy to b in shape. He changes the game just being on the field. He’s a bit of a rebel. Does things his own way. I’m ok with it as long as he’s using DAT speed scoring on those long balls.when he gets older he may need all the work he can get in though. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter