Now that we know the Chargers will return the same coach and general manager next season, we can move on to discussing the future makeup of their roster.
One of the first decisions they have to make has to do with wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who can be an unrestricted free agent after playing under the franchise tag this season. The Chargers can franchise him again for more than $13 million, sign him to a long-term deal or let him walk. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the first of those options is unlikely since the Chargers don’t want to devote that kind of money to a receiver when they have several other holes to fill.
A long-term deal for Jackson hasn’t been of much interest to the Chargers in the past. His 2010 season was marred by an ugly holdout and injury issues, but there’s little doubt about his value to the team when he’s healthy. Jackson had 60 catches for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns this season, his third year in the last four with at least 1,000 yards and seven scores.
A.J. Smith’s past dealings with free agents haven’t always gone too smoothly and Chargers fans need only look to New Orleans for a reminder of players who have moved on after finding better offers than they got in San Diego. It will be interesting to see if the past hesitancy to make a long-term deal for Jackson foreshadows a difficult negotiation this offseason.