Vincent Jackson is 29 years old, a 2005 second round pick, and has never seen free agency. He was one of those guys that were restricted free agents in the uncapped year who would have normally been a free agent. And then the San Diego Chargers placed the franchise tag on him last year.
A lot of people think the Chargers won't franchise tag him this year because the cost would be 120 percent of his 2011 salary, which would put him in the $13 million range. That's a lot but not everyone thinks he'll avoid the tag. Here's a passage from Jason Cole's latest at Yahoo! Sports:
"I know there are seven or eight teams lined up for Jackson, but I think [Smith] is going to tag him," said an AFC team executive whose team is interested in Jackson. "That would be a total A.J. move, plus I think he's going to have a hard time with the fan base if they let [Jackson] go."
Remember a couple years ago when Darren Sproles was supposed to hit the market? And then the Chargers decided to franchise him? Maybe that's where the AFC exec is getting the "total A.J. move" part. (A.J. is Chargers GM A.J. Smith.)
"Think about that team: They failed to make the playoffs the past two years even though they should have run away with the division. The fans have no faith in A.J. or [coach] Norv [Turner]. [Dean] Spanos is taking heat, [quarterback] Philip Rivers is taking heat and now they're going to let their best receiver go? I don't see it."
This is the point I've thought about a lot. The Chargers GM and head coach are in a do-or-die season. They need to win now. Vincent Jackson gives them the best chance to win now, assuming you can fit his contract.