The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Vincent Jackson on the first day of free agency to a huge contract worth $55,555,555 for five seasons. Realistically, Jackson is only tied to the team for the first two years, because all of his guaranteed money ($26 million) is spread out during that time.
Regardless of how easy it will be to release the receiver after two years, signing Jackson to this kind of deal is a major mistake for the Buccaneers to make.
The Buccaneers finished last season with a whimper after completely giving up on their previous head coach. That showed that the team lacks leadership, which isn't that big of a surprise, considering how young it is. Even worse, though, it lacked character.
Someone who certainly has character is Jackson.
For years, the San Diego Chargers refused to give Jackson the long-term deal that he desired. The Chargers were always worried about Jackson, because he was blatantly only motivated by money. If they gave him the money he requested, then his level of play on the field would become a point of contention.
When the team refused to give him a new contract in 2010, Jackson sat out 11 games to try to change the mind of GM AJ Smith. At the time, his teammates desperately needed Jackson, as Philip Rivers had to have an MVP type of season to keep the offense performing at a respectable level.
While there is no real fault that you can put on Jackson for holding out—he has every right to if he feels like he is risking his career in the long-term—it does show his me-first attitude and lack of consideration for his teammates. Jackson wasn't exactly one of the lowest-paid players on the team at the time.
The Buccaneers are a team in need of leadership and are not built to carry or quash any issues created by individuals in the locker room.
The fact that Jackson is now guaranteed $26 million over the next two seasons means that Jackson will likely arrive in Tampa without a care in the world. He has now achieved what he has been aiming for over the past few years, which is a major worry for his performances going forward.
It is intelligent that the Buccaneers designed the contract so he can be released with no financial repercussions, but he could easily infect the locker room during that time, and that would have lasting effects.
Jackson's off-the-field issues aren't as troublesome as, say, a Brandon Marshall, but the timing of them do tell you that he is not totally focused on football. His last infraction off the field came during a Chargers playoff run.
His best fit would be with a competitive team and a strong locker room, much like Marshall got moving to Chicago. With a rookie head coach in charge, Greg Schiano, Jackson will have no reason to respect or fear his new head coach because of his lack of a reputation.
A selfish character going un-managed within a locker room can quickly destroy the whole team. Santonio Holmes' time in New York this past season proved that, and Holmes had only slightly worse issues off the field than Jackson has had.
When investing more than $50 million into one player, you are always taking a risk, but with Vincent Jackson, the Buccaneers are taking a much bigger risk than most.