Report: Bucs, Bears and Redskins all interested in Vincent Jackson

There have been conflicting reports over the last 24 hours about which teams are the supposed frontrunners to acquire free agent receiver Vincent Jackson. But this much is sure: V-Jax will have plenty of suitors when the NFL free agency period kicks off on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, The SidelineView.com’s Lance Zierlein said that the “belief around the league” is that the Redskins will go “very hard” after Jackson following their trade with the Rams for the No. 2 overall pick. Washington is in desperate need of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and without a first round pick in 2013 and 2014, the Skins need to be aggressive in free agency. After all, Robert Griffin III will need a big target to throw to when the Redskins draft him with the second overall pick in late April. (Or at least, that’s what the supposed plan is in Washington.)

The Redskins were also mentioned by the Union-Tribune San Diego as one of the two teams believed by them to be the frontrunners for Jackson. The other team mentioned in the Union-Tribune’s report was the Bears, who have been in need of a prototypical No. 1 receiver for what seems like the existence of their franchise.

Ironically, there was a story in Monday’s Chicago Sun Times that conflicts with the Union-Tribune’s report. According to the Sun Times, the Buccaneers have the “inside track” when it comes to signing V-Jax, and not the Bears. Tampa Bay has loads of cap space and a definite need at receiver, so the Sun Times’ report may have legs. That said, it’s not uncommon that reports conflict with each other around this time of year, as player representatives try to build a market for their clients.

Jackson is now the face of a very deep wide receiver pool in this year’s free agent class, especially with Wes Welker (franchised/Patriots), Dwayne Bowe (franchised/Chiefs), DeSean Jackson (franchised/Eagles) and Steve Johnson (re-signed/Bills) off the market. Reggie Wayne (Colts), Marques Colston (Saints), Brandon Lloyd (Rams), Robert Meachem (Saints) and Mario Manningham (Giants) are all unrestricted and will be available on Tuesday. Mike Wallace is a restricted free agent, but if a team is will to part with a first-round pick he might become available due to the Steelers’ cap issues.

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Vincent Jackson willing to give the Chargers a hometown discount?

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches a pass against Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) during their NFL football game in San Diego, California, November 6 , 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

According to the Union-Tribune San Diego’s Kevin Acee, there’s a belief that free agent receiver Vincent Jackson is willing to give the Chargers a hometown discount.

The Chargers are believed to be willing to pay Jackson between $10-11 million annually on a five-year deal, but they are inclined to let the market be set by others. Jackson is expected to receive more in offers from other teams.

Jackson, too, has expressed his desire to remain in San Diego, with Rivers and Turner, despite past tensions with the front office. There is even a belief by those who have talked with Jackson that he would take less from the Chargers than he could get elsewhere. However, he has desired a long-term commitment from the Chargers for more than three years and his list of suitors will make re-signing him a challenge once he gets to the open market.

V-Jax will have no shortage of teams interested in his services next month. The Bears come to mind as the most receiver-needy team, although one would think the Chargers would be pretty desperate to keep him in San Diego.

Philip Rivers threw for 4,710 yards and 30 touchdowns without having Jackson for most of 2010, but the Chargers can’t rely on an aging Antonio Gates to be their main weapon in Norv Turner’s vertical offense. When healthy and not in the midst of a contract dispute, Jackson is one of the most productive receivers in the game. He runs great routes, has soft hands, is a true vertical threat, and he’s a solid blocker in the run game. Even though his off-field issues make him somewhat of a risky signing, he’ll likely be worth his price tag this offseason.

It’ll be interesting to see how aggressive Smith is when it comes to retaining Jackson’s services. If V-Jax wants to stay in San Diego, the there should be no reason that the Bolts don’t have him locked up early in free agency. But nothing is easy when it comes to Smith and players’ contract situations.

Bears aren’t pursuing Vincent Jackson

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers runs after a catch against the New York Jets during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. A flag on the play negated the catch. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

You can cross the Bears off the potential list of trade candidates for Vincent Jackson, assuming the Chargers want to deal the receiver.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A source familiar with the Bears’ thinking told the Tribune on Wednesday the team has no plans to pursue a trade for Jackson at this time. Strings attached to Jackson — compensation and a new contract — are factors the Bears do not want to burden themselves with a month before training camp.

The Bears, like many teams, would love to have a 6-foot-5, 230-pound target such as Jackson to throw to, particularly in the red zone. However, Jackson is unhappy with the one-year, $3.268 million tender extended to him by the Chargers and wants a deal closer to the four-year, $47.5 million contract the Dolphins gave Brandon Marshall — a price tag way too high for the Bears.

I’ve heard some people suggest that Jackson wouldn’t be a good fit for Mike Martz’s offense because he doesn’t need a No. 1 for his system to be successful. While he might not need a No. 1 for his system to be successful, suggesting that Martz wouldn’t want a highly productive and multi-faceted Jackson in his offense is re-donkuluss.

That said, I can’t imagine that the Bears would want to give up their first round pick in 2011 after giving up their 2009 and 2010 first rounders for Jay Cutler. It’s even less likely that they would want to pay Jackson as much as Marshall is making after shelling out for Julius Peppers.

This past offseason was the anomaly and not the norm. Let’s keep in mind that this is generally a cheap organization.

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