There is no doubt Vincent Jackson took a major step toward leaving the San Diego Chargers on Monday. But rest easy Chargers’ fans. It is still the team’s plan to re-sign him. Now, we have to see if they can get it done.
The Chargers concluded that it is in the best interest of the team to try to sign Jackson after he sees what is available to him on the open market. There is very little chance the Chargers and Jackson will come to an agreement on a long-term deal before free agency starts March 13. The Chargers opted not to give Jackson the franchise tag by Monday’s deadline because it would have cost more than $13 million since he was franchised last season.
The Chargers have other things to do in free agency, including trying to re-sign center Nick Hardwick, left tackle Jared Gaither and running back Mike Tolbert. Plus, the team wants to improve the defense in free agency. So, franchising Jackson would have placed some limitations on this year’s spending.
Now, the gamble beings. Jackson will be one of the most popular players available and there should be a big market for him. Teams such as Chicago, Washington and New England may be among the teams to pursue Jackson. The Chargers will be in trouble of a team blows away Jackson with an offer. The Chargers plan to stay in the competition, but it has a limit on what it will spend on him.
“Vincent will enter the market, and we will see what happens," San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement released by the team. "We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture ... We will now evaluate our contract proposal, and proceed accordingly.”
Jackson has been open about his desire to stay in San Diego. He is close with coach Norv Turner and has a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers. If the Chargers are close to his highest offer, Jackson will likely return. If not, Jackson will walk away and the Chargers will be left to wonder if they made the best decision by not slapping the franchise tag on him.