NFL Free Agents 2012: Why the Vikings Need to Move All-in on Vincent Jackson

Sammy SucuSenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 06:   Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers runs as Desmond Bishop #55 of the Green Bay Packers chases after a catch during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on November 6, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings need to move all-in and sign Vincent Jackson.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the New Orleans Saints have re-signed Marques Colston to a five-year contract. This now makes Vincent Jackson the biggest and best free-agent wide receiver in the class. 

The Vikings' passing attack has looked very weak without a big target at wide receiver. Ever since Sidney Rice walked away from the Vikings last offseason, Minnesota has struggled at wideout.

Other than Percy Harvin, there is not much else to hang your hat on when you think about the Vikes' receiving corps. Not only does that affect the team's success, but it also will contribute to stunting the growth of young quarterback Christian Ponder. 

Bringing in a 6'5", 230-pound wide receiver with elite pass-catching abilities and athleticism is all Ponder and the Vikings need in order to succeed and grow as a team.

Jackson would also be the perfect complement for Percy Harvin. Harvin puts up his best numbers when he is in the slot position. With Jackson around, Harvin will have less attention on him which will then allow him to run wild on the field and make the spectacular plays that Vikings fans have enjoyed over the past three years. 

Jackson will also benefit young tight end Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph will likely see a lot of balls thrown his way in 2012. Without Jackson, Rudolph will be the main focus of opposing secondaries in the red zone and he will have a tough time getting open for a touchdown pass. With Jackson around, Rudolph will find himself in one-on-one coverage where he will outplay the opposing defender every time. Rudolph has high expectations in Minnesota, and with Jackson around, those expectations will be met with gusto. 

Minnesota should not settle for a Pierre Garcon or Mario Manningham; they need to move all-in and pay the big target the big bucks.

For years now, Vikings fans have watched their team sign average free-agent wide receivers that never pan out—like Michael Jenkins and Bernard Berrian. Although Garcon and Manningham are better than both Jenkins and Berrian, they will still not fill the desperate hole at wide receiver the way the Vikings need them to. 

Like last season, the NFC North will once again be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL in 2012. The Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears will be fighting for the top spot in the division while the Vikings are finding a way to reach a .500 record. Without the addition of Jackson, the Vikes will likely be in the top 10 of next year's draft again, but with Jackson, the Vikings could make a run at a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

If the Vikes do sign someone not named Jackson, they will likely be looking for another wide receiver in next year's free-agent class or in the draft. 

The only knock on Vincent Jackson is the fact that he has been known as a locker-room cancer. The big reason is because he was given the franchise tag by the Chargers and not given the long-term contract he desires.

Jackson sat out most of the 2010 season because of this contract dispute. With his services the Chargers could have made the playoffs that year. There should be no concern of locker-room troubles for Jackson in Minnesota because he will be given the big bucks he desires while providing the Vikings with the wide receiver they have truly coveted. 

The other minor concern is that Jackson had a DUI charge in 2010. Although that is a red flag, the last player the Vikings acquired who had DUI issues was Jared Allen, and that worked out just fine. 

The Vikings are $25 million under the salary cap, so they can afford to bring Jackson in while still addressing their other desperate need at cornerback. 

Jackson's physical size is enough to justify why the Vikings need to bring him in, but the size he will add to the growth of the Vikings is why they desperately need him in a purple and gold jersey. 


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