When the San Diego Chargers indicated they would not use the franchise tag on receiver Vincent Jackson, many believed the 29-year-old wideout would use his impending free agency to find a new home. Apparently, things may not be as clear-cut as that.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes the Chargers can retain Jackson as long as they make a competitive offer for his services. A lot of teams need a big, playmaking wide receiver, so Jackson won't come cheap, but he has said he would prefer to stay in San Diego, as he loves his teammates and coaches.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and Jackson have had a rocky relationship over the years, but Smith's job may be on the line this year and he needs to swallow his pride and do what's best for the franchise. Frankly, re-signing Jackson should be his top priority.
Jackson has been with the Chargers for his entire seven-year career and the 29-year-old has developed into one of the best receivers in the game. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and is coming off a season in which he caught 60 passes for 1,106 yards (an average of 18.4 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns.
The chemistry between Jackson and quarterback Philip Rivers is outstanding and with Antonio Gates back healthy in 2012, along with the continued development of running back Ryan Mathews, the Chargers could once again boast one of the NFL's most potent offenses.
Losing Jackson would certainly hinder any progress the team wants to make, as fellow wideouts Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown are nice pieces, but simply can't do the things Jackson can.
It may take a five-year, $50 million contract to get Jackson back, but Smith and the Chargers should be able to get it done if they truly want him back.