Critics of AJ Smith say that he should have taken whatever value he could get for Vincent Jackson before the trade deadline set by the NFL reinstated two games of his suspension. It's true, letting the deadline pass lowered VJ's trade value to teams looking to sign him for the 2010 season. However, the deadline was not the end of the line for AJ Smith, the Chargers, or Vincent Jackson.
It's no secret by now that AJ Smith was asking for a second round pick and at least another fourth round pick. Moving forward, it appears that any deal involving VJ will have to meet these demands. He seems fully prepared to sit on VJ's rights for as long as he needs to. However, as we found out this week, it appears that no team was willing to provide that much compensation for only one or two years of Vincent Jackson's services. Sources reported that several teams were interested in one year deals and one team wanted a one year deal with an option for a second year. But none of these teams were ultimately willing to part with second and fourth round picks to do so This is where it gets interesting.
I find it very telling that no team was ready to step up and provide VJ with the long term deal he was asking for. It makes perfect sense that a team would only give up two draft picks for a commodity they can keep for multiple years. It doesn't add up to give that much up for only one or two years. Certainly, talks for a long term deal must have come up in these recent negotiations (I would have fired my agent if they didn't). But it appears as if no team was willing to commit to the big guaranteed money VJ was asking for. Therefore, only shorter deals were offered and, therefore, no team was wiling to give up the two picks for such a limited contract. If a blockbuster deal over five or six years could have been reached, AJ Smith's demands would have been more than reasonable compensation.
As we know, the market was set by the Dolphins who gave up two second round picks for Brandon Marshall with whom they had a long term deal in place. Knowing this, AJ Smith backed off his initial demands for two second round picks. To me, this signals that even AJ Smith was surprised no team would offer him a long term deal. He may have assumed some other team would throw the money at him so he set the price the same as the Marshall trade. When no team wanted to offer that type of deal, it appears AJ backed off a little, adjusting to the market (speculation, of course).
Now the way I see it, Vincent Jackson has two options. He could sit out the entire season and hope the new CBA provides him his freedom in 2011 (and that AJ doesn't franchise him). Or he could lower his demands for guaranteed money on a deal long enough to justify giving up two draft picks. At this point, I simply don't see a scenario where Vincent gets what he was looking for. I only see his agents looking for ways to minimize the damage they caused.
Now I'm not going to say that AJ Smith isn't above simply trying to screw over VJ and his agents. I wouldn't put it past him. But he may really just be putting the screws to VJ knowing that, if he wants to play, one way to do it is to lower his demands for guaranteed money on a long term deal. Obviously the VJ camp was already willing to cave on their demands for long term contract and accept a one year deal just to get out from under AJ's thumb. So we're already seeing them make concessions. The only concession left might be on guaranteed money. And if a team can get multiple years of VJ's service for a lower cost than 20M guaranteed he wants, that team might still be willing to give up the picks AJ is asking for after all.
Does AJ smell blood in the water?