You can’t blame the Seahawks for checking into the possible availability of San Diego’s Vincent Jackson, a 6'5" receiver who seems to be exactly what the new Seattle coaching staff wants in its wideouts.
Jackson is one of many restricted free agents around the league who have been hindered by the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement, and he and the Chargers are in a contractual standoff as he has refused to sign a one-year tender. That made the Seahawks decide to check into his availability (and maybe Pete Carroll and John Schneider wanted to see if they could exact some revenge on San Diego general manager A.J. Smith for getting the best of them in the Charlie Whitehurst deal).
It’s a good thing Smith isn’t interested in dealing Jackson for several reasons.
1. The Seahawks have spent far too much money on second-tier receivers in recent years. Deion Branch will be paid over $5 million this year, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh averages $8 million a year. Jackson surely wants to be paid somewhere in that range as well.
2. The Seahawks already have given up a first-round pick for Branch and three picks for Deon Butler. They smartly declined to offer two second-round picks for Brandon Marshall, because they simply can’t be giving up extra picks for receivers all of the time. They were fortunate that Golden Tate, whom they rated a first-round talent, was available at No. 60 overall this year.
The Chargers tendered Jackson at the price of first- and third-round picks, and that’s probably what they would want if they did decide to trade him. Besides, the Seahawks have already given their 2011 third-rounder to San Diego for Whitehurst.
3. Although Jackson is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, there is a major risk in signing second-tier receivers and hoping they continue to perform with their new teams. NFL history is full of receivers who fell on their faces with new teams. Jackson took four seasons to develop with the Chargers, which means there is no guarantee he would transition well to a new offense.
4. Jackson has a drinking-and-driving problem. He has been suspended for three games by the NFL after pleading guilty to a second DUI. The Seahawks have enough problems with Leroy Hill; they don’t need to add more.
5. It’s a simple fact that wide receivers are overrated. Quarterbacks and offensive linemen are what make offenses go. A good quarterback behind a great line can beat almost anyone: Just look at the 2005 Seahawks, who went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl despite playing with second- and third-string receivers for most of the season. That’s because they had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback and the best line in football.
The Seahawks can win without Brandon Marshall or Jackson, and they certainly can win without Terrell Owens. Some people still expect them to go after the washed-up headcase, but what a colossal mistake that would be.
If the Seahawks can protect Hasselbeck, he will make his receivers better. Houshmandzadeh is still a solid starting receiver, and Tate and Butler should contribute as well (we’re not counting on anything from Branch). And, the one guy who could have a monster year is tight end John Carlson, who could be the de facto No. 1 receiver in Jeremy Bates’ offense.