I know, everyone is sick of talking about Vincent Jackson. He has been a looming dark cloud over this abomination of a season, and it's not going to stop any time soon. Usually in the days following a Chargers game, the Jackson opinions come out in relation to that game. Here are the two most common one I've been hearing this week.
#1: "This was finally the game everyone was waiting for, where you could clearly say 'We missed Vincent Jackson.' The thing is, the reason we missed him was because Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Antonio Gates were injured."
#2: "If I were the Rams, I would trade for Vincent Jackson. Sam Bradford is throwing to nobody, that division is wide open for the taking, and adding a weapon like that to their offense would make them an immediate contender for the division crown for the next few seasons."
The second one is intriguing, and with today being the last day teams can make trades (deadline is at 4pm Eastern) it's at least something to keep in mind. After the jump, I'll tell you the reasons the Rams should give up whatever the Chargers are asking for and take the plunge with Vincent Jackson.
Scare the Competition
The Arizona Cardinals don't look much like division champs, despite their odd win against the New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks look better than last year, but certainly don't seem a lock to win it. The San Francisco 49ers might be the worst team in the league. The thing these three teams have in common is that they count on 2 wins against the Rams each year and never fear them. Sam Bradford's success, and the times the rams' defense has come alive, put a little bit of fear in them. However, now on his third #1 WR, he might have a problem keeping them scared.
Mark Clayton was a guy, cut from the Ravens, who came in and looked to finally be living up to his potential. Then he tore something in his knee and went straight to IR, which is a dangerous thing when he was only on a one-year contract. Donnie Avery came into the season as the #1 WR, a 26 year old kid from the University of Houston, and torn his ACL before the season began. He is under contract for one more season, which will now be a season where he is getting healthy and back into football shape.
Getting Vincent Jackson for the next 5 years would not only make Sam Bradford a better player, but it would eliminate any worry about the future of the WR position. Avery wouldn't be under a microscope, and is better suited as a #2 receiver anyways. The team wouldn't have to make a large offer to Mark Clayton on the basis of 3 good games. The biggest thing it would do though, is have everyone in the division immediately change their mind into thinking that the Rams might be the team to beat for the next 5 years.
If there's any team that's prepared to deal with Vincent Jackson, it's the St. Louis Rams. A little background on their own tipsy-driver, Leonard Little:
After leaving a birthday party in 1998, Little crashed into and killed Susan Gutweiler in St. Louis, Missouri. When tested, his blood alcohol level measured 0.19 percent, a level in excess of the statutory level of intoxication (0.08) in the state of Missouri. Little received four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
In 2004 he was arrested again for DWI after being stopped by The Ladue Police Department for speeding (78 in a 55 mph zone). At the time he had red eyes, smelled of alcohol and failed three roadside sobriety tests. He later admitted drinking alcohol to the police. He was found not guilty in February, 2005.
The thing that impressed me, through both of these incidents, is how the Rams stood by Leonard. They came out and said what he did was wrong, and that he had to make his apologies and do whatever the court system ordered him to do, but they came out and said "We are not releasing Leonard. He is a good man who has some issues that need to be worked out, and we want to be a part of helping him through them."
Have they helped him by keeping him there? Who the hell knows. The thing is, you make two mistakes in San Diego and the team is ready to give up on you. It's a philosophy they have and some people agree with it. The Rams go on a case-by-case basis, and because of their experiences with Little they might be more willing to take a chance on Vincent on the basis of him being a good person. Basically, this might be the best environment for VJax to work out whatever he needs to work out.
Avoid the Bidding War
This one's pretty self-explanatory. If Jackson were traded to the Rams and given the money he's demanding, he'd be very happy there and would probably help the team a lot. However, make him an unrestricted free agent and things might not seem to rosey in St. Louis.
Depending on how the rest of this year shakes out, Jackson could see himself getting wined and dined by the likes of Daniel Snyder, Woody Johnson and any other owner of a good team in a large market that regularly overpays players simply to win the bidding war/pissing contest. Once that happens, VJ will start comparing cities (St. Louis is not DC or NYC) and St. Louis will have to pay a lot more to convince him to come to town. It would be worth it to give up the two picks now to save the money and guarantee he spends his prime in a Rams uniform.
Building the Team, Drawing a Crowd
One thing left out of the point above is the stars. Another way Jackson will be pitched is by the owners saying "Come and play with Donovan McNabb and Santana Moss" or "You'll be wide open with Dustin Kellar, LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes on the field with you!" Teams will commonly try to attract star free agents to sign with them by using the stars they already have, and right now the only true star on the Rams is Steven Jackson.
A big reason Vincent Jackson would be worth giving up the draft picks is that he would increase the value of the team as a destination for other players who might be free agents. Defensive players would look at the combination of VJax, Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford and realize that an improvement on the defensive side of the ball could be what puts the team over the top. A free agent TE or WR would look at how much coverage Vincent Jackson commands and think "I'll be open all day!" It would make the process of convincing a guy to sign on the dotted line a lot easier.