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Monday, the title of this story is: Will the chargers give Vincent Jackson the franchise tag? Perhaps a more fitting question is: Should the chargers give Jackson the franchise tag?
I say that because the question can really only be answered by the Chargers themselves, and General Manager A.J. Smith is not known to readily volunteer such information. If a team wants to tag a player, that player has nothing to say about it.
Well, he can withhold his service and wait for a long-term contract, but we've seen how usually works out.
It usually doesn't.
So, we turn to the other issue. Should the Bolts bring back V.J. on a one year deal worth a guaranteed $13.6 million? Or should they try and work out the long-term deal he's wanted for so long, which would cost them $40-50 million, about half of that guaranteed? Or, how about door number three ... just let him walk away as a free agent to another team?
I think all parties involved would like to avoid that last one, so let's focus on the first two. By all statistical measures, Jackson is one of the most effective wide receivers in the game. He stretches offenses with his speed and goes over the middle to beat defenders with his size. Plus, Philip Rivers has complete trust in him, and that can't be overstated.
The Chargers are expected to have at least $20 million of salary cap space to play with, but do have a lot of their own free agents to consider (such as center Nick Hardwick and running back Mike Tolbert) and need to look at bringing in potential difference makers from other teams, especially on defense. A long-term contract could help them do that by stretching money over a longer period of time.
Jackson turned 29 in January, and he keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Every week on the road, I see V.J. in the hotel workout area limbering up early in the morning, preparing for the game. Barring catastrophic injury, he'll be able to contribute at a high level (oh no, now I'm talking like Norv!) over at least the next four years.
So I supposed the bottom line is, the Chargers should not hit Jackson with the "franchise tag." They should give him a long-term contract.