Chargers, Jackson at contract talk crossroads
It just seems like Groundhog’s Day.
But here we go again, the Chargers and wide receiver Vincent Jackson waiting for the other party to blink.
Jackson, the Pro Bowler and quarterback Philip Rivers’ favorite down-field threat, wasn’t designated as the team’s franchise player.
Instead, the ongoing disagreement on how much Jackson is worth in his, and general manager A.J. Smith’s eyes, plays on.
Smith, who has declined to give Jackson a long-term deal in the past, passed on securing him through the tag. Because of what Jackson earned last year – he was the franchise player in 2011 – he would have cost the Chargers more than $13 million on a one-year deal.
One can’t fault Smith for not agreeing to that, considering all the other holes his roster has in it.
What you can argue is why did Smith ever let this situation get to this point?
Instead Smith will let Jackson test the free-agency market and see if what that produces, matches with Smith’s value he’s placed on Jackson.
“We did not like the franchise number, never did,” Smith said. “Vincent will enter the market and we will see what happens. We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams will now enter the picture. We will now evaluate our contract proposal and proceed accordingly.”
The Chargers’ plan is likely to shore up the offensive line before wrestling with the Jackson dilemma. With left guard Kris Dielman retiring, left tackle Marcus McNeill possibly not coming back, center Nick Hardwick, as well as backup left tackle Jared Gaither, becoming free agents, you get the idea.
In years past when Smith and Jackson tangled, it was often on a short to-do list Smith was tackling. That’s not longer true for a team that hasn’t seen the playoffs in two straight years and has but one postseason triumph in four seasons.
The Chargers don’t appear to be in the position to lose Jackson. But as Smith tries to rebuild a roster that has numerous holes, Jackson might be too big of a luxury.