May 7, 2002

Willie Jackson Remains Unsigned, Saints Showing No Interest

One of the most productive receivers in recent memory for the Saints and half of the franchise's first 1000-yard receiving duo, WR Willie Jackson remains an unrestricted free agent.

The Saints apparently have little interest in re-signing Jackson, with their depth chart at receiver all by set. Joe Horn, whose holdout is not expected to last into training camp, Jerome Pathon and first-round draft pick Donte Stallworth round out the starting rotation for the Saints.


Veteran receiver Jake Reed, current NFL Europe star Jimmy Robinson, speedster kick returner Michael Lewis and 2001 5th-round pick Onome Ojo are expected to battle for the remaining spots on the roster at wide receiver, as well as a host of undrafted free agents.

Jackson has drawn interest most recently from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but several other teams have at one time or another this offseason been interested in Jackson: the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and San Francisco 49ers.

The veteran from Florida was a journeyman receiver until the Saints signed him to a one-year contract in the 2000 offseason. QB Jeff Blake, who had signed with the Saints early in the 2000 offseason, pushed for the Saints to bring in Jackson, who had been with him in Cincinnati. Jackson had a slow start but came on strong for the Saints late in the 2000 season and especially in the playoffs, catching three touchdowns in the Saints' playoff victory over the Rams.

The Saints re-signed Jackson to another one-year contract in 2001 and Jackson continued his success in the 2001 season, starting across from Joe Horn. He doubled his receiving yards and finished with 1046 yards on 81 catches, both career highs.

Jackson is not known for his downfield speed but rather his running strength and balance. The Saints brought in Pathon and Stallworth, both players known for their exceptional speed.

He faces some stiff competition in the free agency market. After June 1, two highly-regarded veteran receivers will be released for salary cap reasons: Derrick Alexander of Kansas City and Keenan McCardell of Jacksonville.

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