A.J. Smith: Vincent Jackson is “highly unlikely” to get the tag

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Well, one prediction from our newly updated franchise tag primer should prove correct.

Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith said on XERPS radio in San Diego (via NFL.com) that Vincent Jackson is likely to hit the free agent market if the Chargers can’t get him to sign a long-term deal before March 13.

“Right now, I’m not real comfortable with what I see for a tag, but we haven’t ruled it out yet because we have so much to do, and we have different levels of plans that we do with different scenarios,” Smith said.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

“I can tell you right out front, it’s highly unlikely, and every time I look at that situation, I don’t like it, I still don’t like it, but we’ll see. We’ll see where that goes,” Smith said.

It would be a typical A.J. Smith move to surprise everyone at the last minute and retain Vincent Jackson, if only to confound the media and frustrate Jackson’s agents for another season. Smith knows that it will be extremely difficult to retain Jackson if he hits the open market.