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Vincent Jackson: 5 Most Likely Destinations for Free Agent WR

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IMarch 6, 2012

Vincent Jackson: 5 Most Likely Destinations for Free Agent WR

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    The San Diego Chargers let the deadline pass for putting their franchise tag on wide receiver Vincent Jackson. While there still a chance that the team and Vincent Jackson can agree on some long-term deal, is looking more likely that Jackson will wind up in the free-agent market.

    If Jackson hits the market, he will have plenty of suitors. At 6'5'' and 230 lbs., he is the prototypical tall receiver that teams crave. Last season, he had 60 receptions for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Jackson is still on the right side of 30 and can provide teams with an elite, big, No. 1 receiver. He will not come cheap. Teams must have the cap room to pay him No. 1 receiver money.

    Here are five of the most likely destinations for Jackson.

Washington Redskins

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    According to the Washington Post, "The Redskins appear intent upon signing a high-profile wideout in free agency."

    And why wouldn't they be? They're flush with cap space and their top two receivers last season, Jabar Gaffney and Santana Moss, each failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving.

    Acquiring Vincent Jackson would give Washington a legitimate weapon to pair with a rookie quarterback such as Robert Griffin III or any other quarterback they bring in to fill their starting role.

    Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has never shied away from a big move in free agency. This move would actually fill a glaring need.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Maybe things would've worked out differently for the San Francisco 49ers if Alex Smith had Vincent Jackson to throw to in the NFC Championship game.

    When the offense went stagnant in the second quarter, Smith could have used the height and experience of Jackson.

    In this free-agency period, 49ers have the money to pay Jackson. They should pursue him hard considering their No. 1 receiver is Michael Crabtree.

    Crabtree is a serviceable wide receiver, but in no way should he be considered a team's No. 1.

    With Jackson in the fold, opposing teams will have to put more focus on him, freeing Crabtree up on the other side. In turn, that may make Crabtree more productive and add on to his 874 receiving yards last season.

    Also, with Jackson, it would make opposing defenses think twice about stacking the box and only concentrating on the 49ers' running game.

New England Patriots

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    The last time Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had a tall wide receiving threat, they went undefeated on their way to the Super Bowl.

    During that season, with Randy Moss, Brady broke the record for most touchdowns thrown in a season and threw for 4,806 yards.

    With the Patriots having the cap room to sign Vincent Jackson, they should make a play for him. If they offer him a contract, would he turn them down?

    With New England, Jackson will get to play in a pass-friendly offense that ranked second in the league in passing yards per game last season. He would also have the opportunity to play opposite Wes Welker, the reigning league-leading wide receiver.

    Also, playing for the Patriots will give him more of the national spotlight. That is, if he's interested.

Chicago Bears

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    With the Chicago Bears expecting to have more than $30 million in cap space available for 2012 and having the need of an upgrade at the wide receiver position, it would make a lot of sense for them to go after Vincent Jackson in free agency.

    Jay Cutler desperately needs a No. 1 wide receiver to throw to. Last season, his No. 1 receiver was his running back Matt Forte, who had 57 receptions.

    After Forte, Cutler's targets included Johnny Knox and Roy Williams—both only had 37 receptions. Needless to say, he needs some help.

    After re-signing Forte and taking care of their offensive line, which allowed Cutler to be sacked 49 times last season, their priority should be to acquire Jackson.

Carolina Panthers

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    In the NFL rumor section on ESPN.com, Tim Kavanagh listed the Carolina Panthers as one of the teams that will pursue Vincent Jackson in free agency.

    In his rookie season, Cam Newton proved the critics of his passing ability wrong, as he threw for just over 4,000 yards. Newton and wide receiver Steve Smith turned out to be quite the duo, with Smith recording 79 receptions for 1,394 yards.

    The problem is, after Steve Smith, there is really no No. 2 wide receiver. Tight end Greg Olsen was the team's second-leading receiver with 45 catches. Then there is Brandon LaFell and Legedu Naanee.

    Pairing Vincent Jackson and Steve Smith would give Newton two weapons to help improve an offense that surprisingly ranked seventh in the league last season.

    If the Panthers want to compete in their division, which features the high-powered offenses of the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, they're going to have to score a lot of points. Adding Vincent Jackson would help.

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