It could come down to Vincent Jackson versus Marques Colston for Chargers’ management this offseason when evaluating wide receivers on the open market. Clearly the chemistry factor with Philip Rivers and V-Jax has to give him the inside track at staying in San Diego, but don’t be surprised if the Bolts opt for the more economical option (no matter who that turns out to be).
The Bolts are not expected to use the franchise tag on Jackson which will leave them vulnerable to being bid up for his services this coming season. There’s no doubt that a player of his caliber will be highly sought after should he reach the open market and the Chargers won’t be inclined to get in a bidding war to keep him around. Given his history with contract holdouts and the track record of General Manager A.J. Smith’s no nonsense approach to such issues, the idea of a long-term deal being reached with the team prior to the free agency period kicking off on March 13 is highly unlikely.
Enter Marques Colston who is basically a V-Jax doppelganger at 6’4” 225lbs. versus Jackson’s 6’5” 230lbs. frame. The New Orleans Saints have several key free agents to be on their current roster in All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and of course former Charger Drew Brees (both of whom will likely take precedence over Colston). Signs point to him hitting the open market and it remains to be seen just who will carry a higher price tag between he and Jackson.
When comparing the numbers that the two have compiled during their NFL careers, one might be surprised to learn that even with one less year experience under his belt, Colston has tallied up much better statistics in every category than Jackson. Let’s break it down number by number.
2005 – 3 rec -- 59 yds -- 0 td
2006 – 27 rec -- 453 yds -- 6 tds
2007 – 41 rec -- 623 yds -- 3 tds
2008 – 59 rec -- 1,098 yds -- 7 tds
2009 – 68 rec -- 1,167 yds -- 9 tds
2010 – 14 rec -- 248 yds -- 3 tds
2011 – 60 rec -- 1,106 yds -- 9 tds
CAREER – 272 rec – 4,754yds -- 37tds
2006 – 70 rec -- 1,038 yds -- 8 tds
2007 – 98 rec -- 1,202 yds --11 tds
2008 – 47 rec -- 760 yds -- 5 tds
2009 – 70 rec -- 1,074 yds -- 9 tds
2010 – 84 rec -- 1,023 yds -- 7 tds
2011 – 80 red -- 1,143 yds -- 8 tds
CAREER – 449 rec -- 6,240 yds -- 48 tds
Obviously Jackson’s 2010 campaign only lasted five games due to his holdout, but Colston also had a down year in 2008 when he missed five contests to injury. Even with one less year in the league, Colston outperformed Jackson at every turn.
The Chargers have to consider the question of just how much they value V-Jax given the fact that he was asking for around $10 million per season two years ago and that asking price has likely increased since then. Malcom Floyd is not a number one receiver, but his ability to stretch the field provided Jackson with an abundance of room to get open.
Perhaps the biggest question with Jackson at this point is reliability as fans saw him give little to no effort to knock down a pass that he clearly could have competed for if not caught against the Oakland Raiders in week 10. The Bolts eventually lost that game 24-17 and that costly interception was a real turning point in the contest. When a player with character questions in the past takes a page out of the Randy Moss playbook and plays when he wants to on any given down, the time may have arrived to turn the page.
While Colston may not come cheaply, the Bolts should have more than enough money to compete for his services. The Saints have a plethora of capable pass catchers already and aren’t likely to make a strong push for Colston once he hits the open market. Swapping Jackson for Colston could save the team cash on the bottom line, makes them a miniscule five months younger at the position, and lands them a much more productive player during his career.
Now here’s the pass to you. Which player do you consider the better of the two; Jackson or Colston? Do you believe we have seen the last of V-Jax in San Diego or is the front office just playing possum at the moment? How do you see a player like Colston fitting in with the Bolts style of offense? Ultimately which player will be a Charger in 2012: Jackson, Colston, or neither? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
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