After word broke roughly eight days ago that the Chargers had authorized the Seahawks — and only the Seahawks — to negotiate with receiver Vincent Jackson’s agents regarding a possible trade for the holdout wideout, a report emerged that Jackson asked Seattle for a five-year, $50 million contract, with $30 million in guaranteed money.
Most recently, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune asserted that Jackson’s agents, Jonathan Feinsod and Neil Schwartz, had indeed made a demand with those specific contours.
So we gave Schwartz a chance to respond, since neither Acee nor anyone else apparently has bothered to call the agent and ask the question.
“There’s no truth to the report that we asked for $50 million over five years and $30 million guaranteed,” Schwartz told PFT by phone this morning. “We only talked concepts with the Seahawks, and I specifically mentioned players like [Cowboys receiver] Roy Williams, [Bills receiver] Lee Evans, [Falcons receiver] Roddy White, who we represent, [Dolphins receiver] Brandon Marshall, and [Cardinals receiver] Larry Fitzgerald. No numbers were mentioned.”
Those players are at the top of the current receiver market, but only one of them — Fitzgerald — makes $10 million per year. And Fitzgerald finagled his contract after his escalator-driven rookie deal backed the Cards into a salary-cap corner in early 2008.
To be sure, Jackson isn’t worth $10 million per year. In our view, he should be targeting a contract like the one signed by Marshall, which pushes the trigger for much of the guaranteed money to 2011, giving Jackson (who’ll be suspended three games for two DUI guilty pleas) a season to prove himself to his new team, both on and off the field.
So what’s going on here? As we see it, there are three possibilities: (1) Schwartz isn’t telling the truth; (2) the Seahawks misrepresented their communications with Schwartz and Feinsod; or (3) the Chargers are putting out bad information regarding Jackson’s demands.
It’s impossible to rule out the first possibility, since we never take anything at face value that coaches or players or agents say. But without Seahawks G.M. John Schneider or coach Pete Carroll on the record to claim that Schwartz demanded five years, $50 million, and $30 million guaranteed, it’s hard to conclude that Schwartz isn’t being honest.
As to the second possibility, the Seahawks arguably have (or at least had) an incentive to put some pressure on Jackson to reduce his demands in the hopes of building some momentum toward a trade. But if the Seahawks were to lie about the demands, that wouldn’t necessarily set the right mood for getting a new deal done with Jackson.
As to the third possibility, the Chargers’ motivation to paint Jackson as greedy would come from a desire to win the local P.R. battle regarding the basis for his ongoing absence from the team. And to set the stage for a continued squatting on his rights.
There’s one piece of circumstantial evidence that could push the objective observer of this situation toward concluding that the Chargers have, or haven’t, put out phony information. If, as Acee recently reported, the Vikings have balked at Jackson’s alleged asking price, the manner in which the Vikings acquired knowledge of it would reveal whether it came from the agents, the Seahawks, or the Chargers.
For his part, Schwartz denies talking to the Vikings about Jackson. “I have no permission to talk to the Vikings,” Schwartz said. “It didn’t come from me.”
The fact that Acee, who covers the Chargers for a living, has reported that the Vikings passed on Jackson after hearing the demand makes us inclined to conclude, via the application of Occam’s Razor (I am so smart . . . S-M-R-T), that Acee learned of the Vikings’ interest from the Chargers. This would mean that the Vikings at some point called the Chargers, and that the Vikings asked the Chargers what Jackson wants.
And if the Chargers are putting out inflated numbers as to Jackson’s demand, other teams likely will not seek permission from the Chargers to talk to Jackson. Thus, San Diego will be able to continue to squat on Jackson’s rights, with few local media or fans attacking the Chargers for being unreasonable, since after all Jackson supposedly wants $10 million per year.
By denying the reports that Jackson want’s $10 million per year and $30 million guaranteed, Schwartz’s message is fairly obvious. Any interested team should call the Chargers and request permission to find out what Jackson really wants.