Chargers not actively shopping V-Jax now?

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

Despite a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune last week that stated the Chargers had put Vincent Jackson on the trade block, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is now stating that the team is not shopping the restricted free agent. Schefter even goes as far as to say that any trade is a “real longshot” at this point.

There’s no reason to doubt Schefter, but maybe GM A.J. Smith is trying to throw the media off while he continues to discuss Jackson with other teams. Or maybe the Chargers are serious and Jackson really isn’t going anywhere.

If it’s the latter, then V-Jax isn’t going to be too happy. The Chargers have already replaced his one-year tender of $3.268 million with a new, hard-stance figure of $583,000. He’s looking for a long-term deal, but Smith doesn’t want to invest big money in a player with two DUIs on his off-field resume and an upcoming three-game suspension. That’s not to suggest that Jackson is the Bolts’ version of Pacman Jones or even Brandon Marshall, but it’s hard to blame Smith for wanting V-Jax to stay out of trouble and produce on the field this year before giving him a multi-year deal heading into 2011.

Let’s not forget that the CBA situation is still in flux and that it’s restricting what teams can do in terms of giving players new deals. Look no farther then Indianapolis with Peyton Manning and Tennessee with Chris Johnson for more examples of teams wanting to wait until a new CBA deal is struck before handing out long-term contracts.

In the end, Jackson may have to bite the bullet and play on his tender (the first one for $3.268 million, which the Chargers could adjust back to once he agrees to play) this year before seeking a long-term deal after the season. I know he’d rather set his face on fire than do that, but what are his options if the Chargers don’t intend on trading him? Holdout for most of the season? How would that look to other teams and why would they want to invest big money in a player that basically says that his contract is more important than playing? (I know it’s more complicated then that, but that’s how some teams would view the situation.)

Jackson’s hands looked like they’re tied.

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Vincent Jackson’s holdout to last into season?

The situation in San Diego involving Vincent Jackson and the Chargers is getting uglier by the day.

Earlier this offseason, the Chargers extended first and third round tenders on Jackson (a restricted free agent), meaning he would make just over $3 million in 2010. But Jackson wants a long-term contract and has decided to skip all of the team’s organized activities this offseason and is now prepared to sit out into the season if he doesn’t receive a new deal.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have issued a warning to the 27-year-old receiver and tackle Marcus McNeill (who is in a similar boat as Jackson) letting them know that their one-year tenders would be drastically reduced if they didn’t sign them by June 15.

What a threat. I’m sure Jackson and McNeill are currently huddled together in a corner somewhere, shaking uncontrollably at the thought of their tenders reducing from $3 to $1.5 million or whatever the Chargers have in mind. The two players want long-term deals, so threatening them with reduced offers isn’t going to do anything. That’s like telling a child that instead of having the opportunity to play with three crappy toys, he’ll only get the chance to play with one crappy toy if he doesn’t clean up his room. All the toys are crappy – he doesn’t want to play with any of them and therefore, the parent isn’t going to get what he or she wants in the end.

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Are the Chargers taking the right approach with Shawne Merriman’s contract situation?

The NFL has always been a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and Shawne Merriman is currently being reminded of that.

In his first three seasons, Merriman posted 188 tackles, 39.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. But after undergoing major knee surgery before the 2008 season, his numbers have expectedly dropped off. He essentially didn’t play in ’08 and then struggled last year while bouncing back from the injury.

In his last six regular season games, plus his start against the Jets in the playoffs last year, Merriman has zero sacks. He has just one forced fumble in his last 28 starts and finished with only 36 tackles in 14 games last season. While two injury-plagued/unproductive seasons don’t erase three stellar years of service, it’s not unreasonable that the Bolts are holding off on giving Merriman a long-term deal.

No one can fault Merriman for seeking a multi-year contract, especially considering his career has already been threatened once by an injury. Players want the comfort of knowing they’re set up long-term and you can’t hold it against Merriman that’s trying to parlay the success he had in his first three years into a new deal.

That said, you can’t blame the Chargers for wanting to keep him hungry, either. If they paid him now, he may or may not strive to produce. But if they keep that long-term contract carrot dangling in front of him, they know they’re going to get his best effort next season. If he plays well and he moves on next year, then at least they got one last productive season out of him and they already drafted his potential replacement last year in Larry English. If he plays well and wants to stay, then they can feel better about investing in him long-term. If he struggles and has a down year, then they don’t have to commit to him. That might be an unfair scenario for Merriman, but the NFL has always been a business.

Again, I don’t blame Merriman for being upset about his current situation. But what is he going to do? This is the spot he finds himself in and all that’s left is for him to prove that he deserves a long-term deal – whether that’s in San Diego or elsewhere.

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Cromartie deal off the table between Chargers and Lions?

Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski of reports that a trade between Detroit and San Diego involving cornerback Antonio Cromartie is now unlikely to happen.

Yesterday, Chargers’ beat writer Kevin Acee reported that Cromartie could be traded to the Lions “soon” and that the 25-year-old cornerback had played his last down in San Diego. But as Kowalski reports, Detroit balked when the Bolts asked for Maurice Morris in return.

The Lions don’t have an abundance of depth at the running back position and Morris proved to be valuable last year when Kevin Smith tore his ACL and battled shoulder problems. Morris would be Detroit’s every down back if the season started today, so the Lions don’t want to create a bigger hole at running back, even if it would mean acquiring a young corner in the process.

So where will San Diego turn now? They probably haven’t found any shortage of teams that need a young cornerback, but the problem is that Cromartie carries plenty of baggage. His contract also expires at the end of the year, so the team acquiring him won’t be willing to give up more than a mid round draft pick in case they can’t sign Cromartie to a long-term deal.

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Cromartie to be traded to Lions soon?

Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee wrote on his Twitter page that Antonio Cromartie “has almost certainly played his last game for the Chargers” and also notes that the cornerback could be traded to the Lions soon.

It’s been rumored for a little over a week now that the Bolts would want a running back in return for Cromartie, which would make the Lions an odd fit seeing as how they don’t have any outside of Kevin Smith. And Smith isn’t going anywhere, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Lions would give up in return for the 25-year-old cornerback.

Cromartie isn’t a fit for the zone scheme, which is what the Chargers used most of last year. The Lions use more press coverage under defensive coordinator Gunter Cunningham, which would allow Cromartie to use his strengths more by getting his hands on receivers early. But what the compensation would be for Cromartie is the question. He’s also only signed through 2010, so the Lions might try to work out a long-term deal before they acquire him.

Another issue that has come under question is Cromartie’s character. He’s only 25-years old, but has at least seven children with six different women in five states. He hasn’t played as well over the past couple of years for the Chargers to put up with his baggage, so the Lions (or any other team for that matter) might get the corner on the cheap.

We’ll see if this story develops.

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