Vincent Jackson will stay a Charger in 2011

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) celebrates a first down catch against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL football game in San Diego, California December 12, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune stated on Tuesday that receiver Vincent Jackson will play under the $11.3 million franchise tag for the Chargers in 2011.


“Vincent Jackson will be a Charger, and that’s the bottom line,” Acee said. Jackson “very much” wants to stay in San Diego, though Acee stops short of predicting that one of the “hardest working and most intelligent” players he’s ever covered will end up inking a long-term deal with the Bolts. The Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard hears that Jackson, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady have “softened their stance” on free agency after Tuesday’s public backlash.

That “backlash” included Vikings punter Chris Kluwe posting this on Twitter: “Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being ‘that guy’. #douchebags.”

What has angered guys like Kluwe is how both Manning and Brees requested exemptions from the franchise tag as part of the NFL’s new CBA, with Jackson and Mankins essentially doing the same thing. This has led some to believe that the four players would hold up the labor negotiations in order to negotiate their own side deals, which obviously looks mega selfish on the part of Manning, Brees, Mankins and Jackson. But Adam Schefter said that he doubts these “side deals” would impede the progress that the players and owners have made in constructing a new CBA deal.

Getting back to Jackson, if he ever winds up hitting the open market he should cash in big time. Receivers that have soft hands, are willing to block, and can stretch defenses vertically don’t fall off trees. All things considered, he might be the most valuable receiver in the league. (That is, when he’s actually on the field and not either suspended or holding out in a contract dispute.)

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Vincent Jackson to report to Chargers by end of the month

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 25:  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball on a 59 yard pass play in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks on August 25, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, setting up a Chargers touchdown.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In the end, Vincent Jackson’s situation was rather predictable.

The player’s union has been telling agents for months that players who held out will be unrestricted free agents after season, even if they sat out all of 2010. However, players still have to be on the roster for six games in order to get an accrued season and thus become unrestricted.

That’s why it isn’t surprising to hear that V-Jax will report to the Chargers by the end of the month. He wants a new contract and if he holds out all year, he may never get one because he would still be under the Chargers and GM A.J. Smith’s thumb. If he’s on the roster for six games, he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and then he can seek his millions elsewhere.

But nobody really wins here. People will say that Jackson and his agent got one over on Smith, but the GM isn’t dumb – he knows what they were going to do and I doubt he even cares at this point. Smith has made it clear that Jackson has no future with the Chargers so he might as well sign off on his return (Smith has to agree to Jackson returning to the roster), get six weeks out of him (Jackson isn’t eligible to return until Week 12) and then bid him ado at the end of the year.

What happens if Jackson blows out his knee in the final six games of the season? Then what would have this all been about? What if other teams have been turned off by the way he handled things in San Diego? Then there wouldn’t be a big market for him and thus, he may have to accept less than what he and his agent think he’s worth.

V-Jax may get his big contract next year but as of this moment, he rolled the dice and he came up snake eyes – for everyone.

2010 NFL Preview: AFC West Predictions

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after a touchdown against the New York Jets during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

On paper, the AFC West is definitely one of the weaker divisions in football. The Chargers remain the team to beat, while the Broncos are just trying to make it to their opener without losing another starter to injury.

But the West usually produces a surprise or two along the way (i.e. Denver last year), so don’t count out the Broncos, Raiders or Chiefs before the season starts. All three of those teams come with some glaring weaknesses, but it’s not like the Chargers are the picture of perfection.

Here’s how I see things shaking out in the AFC West in 2010. Be sure to check out the link entitled “2010 Question Mark” under each team’s preview, which is a breakdown of one or two potential weaknesses that could derail that squad’s hopes this season. (If the links aren’t available now for some teams, check back because they will be before the season starts.)

1. Chargers

What to Like: After finishing fifth in the league in passing yards per game (271.1) in 2009, the Chargers should once again be explosive through the air. Losing Vincent Jackson is a major blow, but adding a pass-catching back like Ryan Mathews in the draft was a nice coup. Philip Rivers returns after compiling a 104.4 QB rating last season and developing into one of the best signal callers in the game. Again, the loss of Jackson hurts, but Malcolm Floyd is ready for a breakout campaign, Antonio Gates returns as one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the NFL and the team recently acquired Patrick Crayton from the Cowboys. Brandyn Dombrowski has also looked good filling in for Marcus McNeill, who continues to holdout while seeking a new contract. Defensively, free safety Eric Weddle is coming off a great ’09 season, while Shaun Phillips and Stephen Cooper remain steady at their linebacker positions.
What Not to Like: Is there anybody left that GM A.J. Smith hasn’t pissed off? This team managed to lose its top wideout and is close to watching its best offensive tackle (McNeill) holdout well into the season. Defensively, Shawne Merriman is back but who knows how productive he’ll be after a poor showing in ’09, while Larry English failed to impress last season as well (albeit as a rookie). The defensive line lost their top run-stuffer when Jamal Williams was released and Luis Castillo has been living off his reputation for the last two years. The entire defensive line, in fact, is arguably this team’s biggest weakness. The secondary, outside of Weddle, has a ton of question marks as well.
Keep Your Eye On: Malcolm Floyd
The 28-year-old out of Wyoming will finally have his opportunity to shine now that Jackson is gone (or rather, not playing). He’s been Rivers’ favorite target so far this offseason after finishing fourth in the league last year in yards-per-catch average. If he can build off the nine-catch, 140-yard performance he had in Week 17 last year (while Jackson was out), then Floyd could be another dangerous weapon in the Chargers’ arsenal.
The Final Word: If there were another team in this division that I thought had a remote chance of overtaking the Chargers, I would probably have them winning the division. But because the West is so weak this year, the Bolts should have no problems winning 10-plus games and claiming the division again, even though they have a several weaknesses heading into the new season. Whether or not they advance in the playoffs is another story. The key is Rivers, who is an exceptional talent that has proven he can carry this team during the regular season. But the playoffs are a different animal – he’s going to need help and while Mathews looks like he has all the tools to make him a solid young player, relying on a rookie is always a dangerous proposition. Defensively, this team has way too many question marks and unless guys like Merriman or English step up, I think they’re going to struggle at every level this year. A division crown looks to be on the horizon, but so does another one-and-done showing in the postseason.

San Diego Chargers 2010 NFL Question Mark: Defensive Line

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Is Vincent Jackson’s career with the Chargers over?

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 3:  Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers watches from the sidelines during the Washington Redskins v San Diego Chargers NFL Game on January 3, 2010 at Quolcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 23-20. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Kevin Acce of the San Diego Union-Tribune hints that receiver Vincent Jackson may not play another down for the Chargers.

If Jackson is not signed by 3 p.m. Saturday, his Roster Exempt status means he will be out for six games. That won’t preclude a trade, because the trading deadline is the Tuesday after the sixth game. But his limited availability for 2010 will take down the compensation both Jackson and the Chargers could expect.

People close to Jackson have long indicated, despite rhetoric he was only interested in a multi-year deal — that he would play for a one-season contract that paid him in line with the top 10 receivers in the NFL. Maybe he’ll take that deal from another team, though that would likely bring down even further the price the Chargers could fetch in trade, because Jackson’s new team wouldn’t be assured of having him more than this season.

And, as we all know, Smith will not be compelled to make a trade he doesn’t feel is best for the Chargers.

Although not surprising with Smith in charge, it’s rather amazing how this situation continues to unravel. Last year, Jackson was arguably the most productive receiver in the NFL in terms of his pass catching, deep threat and run-blocking abilities. Now it appears that he may not play at all in 2010.

There’s still time for the two sides to come together on an agreement, but Jackson’s camp and Smith both appear to have dug their heels in long ago. If Jackson is going to play for the Bolts this season, one of the two sides will have to cave.

And that doesn’t appear to be likely.

NFL suspends Jackson for three games

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL has suspended Chargers’ restricted free agent Vincent Jackson for three games this season. The suspension stems from the receiver’s two DUIs, although it can also be appealed.

Earlier this week I discussed possible trade partners for Jackson if the Chargers eventually decide to deal him. He has already stated his intentions to hold out if GM A.J. Smith doesn’t abide by his wishes for a new contract, or trades him to a team that will invest in him long-term.

Interestingly, Schefter also reports that even if Jackson follows through with his holdout threats, the suspension will still start in Week 1 no matter what. If that’s the case (there’s no reason to doubt Schefter), then it gives V-Jax all the more reason to follow through with his holdout, seeing as how he won’t be playing the first couple of weeks anyway. He could ultimately holdout through training camp on the first couple of weeks to see if the Chargers offer him a long-term deal and then make his decision before Week 4.

That said, no matter what Jackson does, Smith isn’t going to give in. He’s a hard-nosed executive that doesn’t bow to plays threats or demands. If he wants Jackson to play on a one-year tender, then that’s probably the receiver’s best and only option. We’ll just have to wait and see if either side gives in, although my money is on Smith standing firm.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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