The Wednesday 1:00 PM deadline has passed, and Vincent Jackson is still a member of the Chargers – or, more appropriately, Property of AJ Smith and the Chargers. San Diego was well within their right to not trade Jackson, but much of the situation surrounding the fallout from the deadline has to raise a few flags
Just because what Smith did by not trading Jackson does not break any rules does not mean that it is right. But the ethically questionable actions here involve whether his intentions towards the situation ever allowed for Jackson to move to another team.
It was widely reported by both national and local NFL information men that Jackson had several serious suitors that intended to talk to the Chargers about a possible trade. So how did a Pro Bowl wide receiver go from being a hot commodity one day to just about untouchable the next?
The Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins were supposed to be the front-runners for the Charger wide out. Both teams have serious questions at wide receiver, but dreams of going deep into the playoffs. While it was not reported how deep the discussions got with the Redskins, multiple news outlets reported that the Vikings were reportedly ready to give Jackson a one-year deal worth $6 million.
While the one-year deal would not have been what Jackson and his agent Neil Schwartz had hoped for, it would have almost doubled the amount that the original tender from the Chargers would have given the wide receiver. This deal also would have been good for the Vikings as they will likely have to give new contracts to wide receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin who will be wanting big contract extensions from their rookie deals.
Once Jackson had a contract ready with his new suitors, it was up to Chargers to negotiate a deal with one of the teams.
This is where everything fell apart.
Originally, most people around the league believed that the Chargers would require a third or fourth round pick for Jackson who’s value was held back by his DUIs and the fact that he has never been considered in the same tier as the Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnsons of the league. Add into this that it appeared the Chargers did not think highly enough of him to offer a big-money extension and it seemed like Jackson could be had for a very reasonable price.
The rest of the story has been detailed in other outlets and is not worth rehashing again. But the main point that everyone seems to agree on is that it looks like AJ Smith deliberately decided not to trade Jackson out of spite.
The compensation demands went from a conditional third round pick to at least a second and a third. And the demands from the Chargers only got steeper for the teams that were willing to give Jackson multiple-year contracts.
Clearly, Smith was not trying to do Jackson any favors.
The teams that were considered the main candidates for Jackson’s service were Super Bowl contenders. It is more than possible that a fearing Smith was worried that Jackson could be the difference in one of these teams and end up with a ring leaving only more questions than answers in San Diego.
After the deadline passed, a defeated Jackson told NFL.com:
"I just don't understand why (a trade wasn't completed). They obviously think I'm a valuable player by asking for such high trade compensation, but why am I only offered tender salary?
"My agents and teams interested did everything to make it happen, but this organization stopped it. I just want to play football. It feels unethical and I am disappointed."
Jason La Canfora’s story went on to quote Schwartz his agent saying: “[Smith] never had any intention of trading him.”
"We're prepared to sit out the season, and that's always what we've been prepared to do," Schwartz continued.
Now, with the deadline passed to reduce Jackson’s team-imposed suspension he will not be able to play in a game until after the sixth game of the season – also the same week as the NFL Trade Deadline. More importantly, because the last three games of Jackson’s suspension are team imposed, he will not be able to even take part in team practices or meetings until after his full suspension has been served – even if he is traded to a new team.
So even if the Chargers find a trade partner who is also willing to pay Jackson, it would not be until week eight or nine of the season that he would even be remotely familiar or comfortable in his new team’s system.
This has left Jackson with few, if any, options.
He still has the option to come back the Chargers at a prorated portion of his $600,000 salary he has on the table. But if he does not come back until week 10 of the season, he would only make a little over $250,000 for the remaining games. Which, after he paid the Chargers all the fines he accrued from missing training camp and practices, would not be anywhere close to enough for him to risk his career to injury in those games.
Schwartz and Jackson are banking on the fact that the new CBA – which is currently being negotiated – will grant unrestricted free agency to players after four years rather than the current agreement which calls for six.
No matter what side of the fence you sit on in this debacle, there is no denying that something out of the ordinary is going on.
57% of voters in a recent San Diego Union Tribune poll said that not trading Jackson was the correct call. Many of these fans probably still believe that he has a chance of dawning a San Diego uniform again. But rest assured, Jackson will never play for the home team again at the Q, and may not be playing football again in 2010 thanks to the pride of AJ Smith.
Where are the ethics in that?
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