If they want to trade him. (More on that below.)
The Chargers placed Jackson on the roster exempt list last month, which means that he can’t play for three weeks after he reports. And now that he is suspended for three weeks, the league will take the position that he can’t commence the three-week roster exemption by reporting during his suspension, even if Jackson is traded.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello recently told us via e-mail that, even though a player who has been suspended under the substance-abuse policy may attend meetings and otherwise be at the facility (but not participate in practice), a player cannot “report” as that term is contemplated by the rules of the roster exempt list.
As we explained on August 25, the union disagrees with the league’s belief that the roster exemption would transfer to Jackson’s new team, if he’s traded. The problem is that no team interested in trading for Jackson would want to acquire his rights without knowing whether he’ll miss three games or six games to start the season. It makes sense, then, for the union to promptly pursue an advance ruling on an expedited basis, so that a team interested in Jackson (if there still are any) would know before acquiring his rights whether he’ll be available as of Week Four or Week Seven.
The broader question, of course, is whether the Chargers really want to trade Jackson. By applying the roster exemption, the Chargers necessarily made it harder to move him. Also, there continues to be no indication that the Chargers have given any indication as to what they may want for Jackson’s rights.
Thus, even if the union secures a ruling that a trade would wipe out the roster exemption and make Jackson eligible to play for a new team as soon as Week Four, a deal would still need to be struck with Jackson and with the Chargers.
So, in the end, there’s a good chance that it won’t matter whether he could play for a new team by Week Four.