The San Diego Chargers have denied shopping restricted free-agent Vincent Jackson despite reports earlier this week that had the wide receiver leaving San Diego. The five-year NFL veteran was suspended last week for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Jackson plead guilty to a DUI in February, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken action by suspending him for at least the first three games of the 2010 NFL season. This is the second DUI conviction for Jackson.
A former star at the University of Northern Colorado, Jackson holds team records for receptions, receiving yards, kickoff return yards, punt return yards, and receiving touchdowns. He was not heavily recruited despite standing out in two sports in high school. He was also a basketball star at Widefield High School, and graduated with a 4.25 GPA.
The wide receiver’s suspension could last the first 10 games of the season. If he fails to sign his free-agent tender worth $3.268 million, he will receive 682,000 for the upcoming season. Jackson has a 17.2-yard average for his career, and back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons that he believes has earned him a Larry Fitzgerald-like contract.
His timing might be off as teams are putting a clamp on long-term deals, especially if the player won’t be on the field.
Jackson and his agents are operating under the assumption that by holding out through the start of the regular season, they will have more time to negotiate the terms of a new deal. The team believes that even after the first three weeks, Jackson would have to sit out three additional games on top of the games he missed by not being under contract.
Rarely used at the beginning of his career, Jackson has become a top target for Phillip Rivers. The Chargers offense struggled in the last few years due to the drop off in production from LaDanian Tomlinson, and injury plagued seasons from Antonio Gates.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is prepared to move ahead into 2010 without Jackson, or free agent offensive tackle Marcus McNeill. McNeill has also failed to sign his tender worth $3.168 million.
“We lost a couple of great players … and it hurts,” Smith told local newspapers last month. “We are trying to build a championship team, and losing the services of both Vincent and Marcus just made that more difficult — but not impossible. In due time, Coach [Norv] Turner will name two new starters. We will rally as a team, compete and try to win as many games as we can.”
The team has signed former Buffalo Bills receiver Josh Reed in preparations to be without Jackson.
NFL sportsbooks have set the Chargers as the favorites to win the AFC South at -325 odds. They are among the favorites to win the 2010 AFC Championship at +500 odds just behind the Indianapolis Colts at +400. The Chargers’ pre-season odds to win Super Bowl XLV have bet set at +900.