The story coming out of the Chargers’ compound regarding soon-to-be free agent Vincent Jackson continues to affirm that the Chargers want to bring back their Pro Bowl wide receiver, but only at their price. Reportedly, that price does not include the franchise tag option of somewhere around $13.7 million for a one-year contract. While the Chargers are sticking to that story, one has to wonder if they are telling the truth.
Is there a good chance that the Chargers open the wallet a little wider than they had hoped to retain #83? Signing a top player to a deal outside of the team’s preconceived comfort zone is not entirely unheard of. Prior to the 2008 season the Chargers’ signed guard Kris Dielman to a contract worth more than what the team had initially valued the player at just to keep him from leaving the team for greener (as in the color of money) pastures in Seattle. A last minute increase from the Chargers’ “final” offer brought Dielman back to the team. Could negotiations with Jackson follow a similar path?
Jackson is not loved by the front office the way that Dielman was, but regardless, his value to the team has never been in question. Jason La Canfora from NFL.com predicts that whether the Chargers and Jackson agree to a multi-year contract or not, VJ will be wearing blue and gold next season. Due to a number of factors which include a lack of wide receiver depth and an aging Antonio Gates, La Canfora predicts that if the Chargers and Jackson have not agreed to a deal by March 5, with a number of potential suitors lining up in wait, the team will have no choice but to place another franchise tag on Jackson and hope that they can continue working toward a deal better for all parties involved. As wide receivers are pulled off of the open market by competing clubs using their own franchise tag options, a list that reportedly will include Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City and Wes Welker in New England if deals cannot be struck before the March 5 franchise tag deadline, the Chargers have to be thinking that keeping Jackson is the easiest solution to their rebuilding efforts this offseason.
I tend to agree with La Canfora. The Chargers wide receivers are at their best with Jackson streaking down the sideline, and in the end will do what needs to be done to retain him. The bigger question may now be, will Jackson bother negotiating a team-friendlier deal if he is franchise tagged again?
From Starting WR’s To Backup RB’s
A recent Chargers Mailbag update from San Diego Union Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee mentioned Cadillac Williams as a potential veteran backup running back option for San Diego. Not that backup running back is the most pressing need on the team, but with Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester hitting the free agent market, this could end up being an important offseason acquisition. Williams is an interesting thought, but is Cadillac the best fit? Other names who might look even better in lightning bolts this season include:
Kevin Smith: Smith went from 1st round pick to jobless in just a few years, but found a bit of a rebirth after rejoining the Lions last season.
Ronnie Brown: A former standout in the wildcat formation, Brown has great hands that were underutilized after a season in Philadelphia. Brown has 3rd down back written all over him.
Steve Slaton: The one-year wonder has failed to live up to the hype created early in his career. He is a talented back rushing and receiving, but costly fumbles eventually led to his benching. On second thought, additional fumbling is the last thing this team needs.
LaDainian Tomlinson: It’s never gonna happen, not with the size of the chips AJ Smith keeps on his shoulder. But would it really be that bad of an idea, bringing back a fan favorite more accepting of a backup role in a familiar offense?
AJ Opens Up?
AJ Smith recently spoke with ESPN’s Bill Williamson at the scouting combine in Indianapolis and revealed some of the deepest, darkest, most surprising secrets you will ever hear coming from the usually tight-lipped GM.
Smith told ESPN absolutely nothing that we didn’t already know, including tidbits like the defense needs to get better, and the offensive line, with the possibility of a lot of turnover ahead, is of great concern. He wouldn’t get specific about prospects he liked in the draft or who he might target in free agency, but many of the same names continue to be thrown around, starting with Robert Mathis to help with the pass rush.
Speaking of the draft, with the football world dissecting future draft picks at the combine, most draft predictions for the Chargers first round pick have been consistently inconsistent. South Carolina OLB Melvin Ingram has been a popular pick for the Chargers recently, as was Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw before him. More and more, draft prognosticators have branched out from the obvious outside linebacker choices and moved in the direction of other positions of need, including wide receivers like Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and Baylor’s Kendall Wright, and lineman like Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams from Ohio State. I can’t see a bigger need than a dominant pass rusher, but if history tells me anything it’s that AJ Smith and I rarely agree on these things.
Got a favorite free agent pickup or draft choice for the Chargers? Sound off below!
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