Football fans talk about their team's "window": A hypothetical period of time where their team can be expected to compete for a Super Bowl. A team's window can be tough to define, for some teams it comes and disappears and reappears like the ought era Patriots. For others, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it stays open for season after season unfulfilled, until one fateful combination of coaching and talent and luck finally pushes them over the top. These teams, often at the oak inlayed edge of their window, are forced to make bold moves, moves that potentially sacrifice the future, to go all-in at that final shot for glory, because banners fly forever, dagnabit, and one Super Bowl victory is worth a thousand playoff appearances.
That's your market for Darrell Jackson. The Hawks own window is tied to--but not wholly determined by--the Franchise, Walter Jones. Walter Jones is 33, Julian Peterson is 30, Matt Hasselback is 32, Shaun Alexander 30, recent signees Patrick Kerney and Deon Branch are 30 and 29 respectively. The Hawks don't need to move D-Jack because he's bad, he was clearly the best receiver on the roster last year, but because in the next three years, when the Hawks can have a reasonable expectation of competing for a title, he represents the least of the Hawks needs.
The value to a team trying to win now is that D-Jack offers a level of performance, an expected 2007 and 2008 production that will likely be unmatched by any receiver in this year's draft. Excepting, maybe, the Randy Moss like explosion some expect from Calvin Johnson. Logging three rounds and going back three years, the average rookie wide out caught 24 passes for 334 yards. Over the last three years, despite battling injuries, Jackson averaged 63 receptions for 879 yards. Or, to put it into a more meaningful context, Jackson was worth 14.27 DPAR more than an average receiver drafted in the first three rounds over the last three years.
14 points. That won't help every team, but for those teams fighting for a final playoff spot or home field advantage, Darrell Jackson might make all the difference between an offseason of disappointment and a title run.
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