Kevin Acee, who we kindof love around these parts mostly because he's never been one to make up stories to grab headlines, is reporting that Vincent Jackson is on the trading block and the San Diego Chargers are accepting calls about him.
If you've read BFTB for any amount of time, you probably know that I love envisioning trade scenarios and generally pretending that I'm A.J. Smith ("No, you're out of line!"). This has blown up in my face at a few times, as I've gotten a little carried away (first person to mention the Ted Ginn trade idea gets banned), but below I'm going to try to keep a level head and predict where Vincent Jackson might end up and what the Chargers might get back for him. To help do this, I'm going to stick by a few key rules.
- In-division trades are not an option. Sorry KC, Denver and Oakland. You're gonna have to stick with what you got.
- Trades with "playoff rivals" (Colts, Steelers, Patriots, Jets) should be avoided unless there's no other option.
- Obviously, the team trading for Vincent Jackson will have to be willing to make him the highest paid WR in football and accept the fact that he'll miss the first four games of 2010.
I'm going to start by looking through the teams that had the worst passing games in 2009 to figure out who might be willing to give up a whole lot to get VJ. Lions, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders....the last two are out. I doubt the Rams would trade for a big name WR right now since they have other issues to address. The Lions already have their #1 WR in Calvin Johnson, and it would probably cause some trouble to bring in someone who is making more money and demanding the ball more. Let's dig into this list a little deeper and find out trading candidates:
JAGUARS: Very interesting. Mike Sims-Walker is the #1 now, but would probably be even more effective as a #2. Torry Holt left in the offseason and signed with the Patriots, and his supposed replacement (our old friend, Kassim Osgood) is already starting to worry the coaching staff. Word has it that Kassim, who is a great guy and will out-hustle anyone, has the hands of a man who has eating some delicious movie-theatre popcorn. They're in desperate need for a good WR to put on the other side of Sims-Walker, and Del Rio might be pushing for it as a way to salvage his job and David Garrard's career.
Right now, the Jags #2 receiver is 5'8" Mike Thomas. Sounds like a good slot guy to me.
Verdict: I like it. It gets him far away from San Diego and he can hang with Kassim. Jacksonville, who needs star power more than ever to try to sell tickets, might actually got for it too. I don't know if they'd be willing to part with the asking price (I imagine somewhere around 2 first round picks), but it's something they should maybe think about.
BROWNS: The Browns were the worst passing teams in the league last year. Everything went wrong, from the pass protection to the QB to the WRs. The one bright spot was Mohamed Massaquoi, who looks like a real player. Right now, Massaquoi is listed as the #2 receiver right behind Joshua Cribbs and in front of ex-Jet Chansi Stuckey. Bringing in Jackson would push Cribbs down to the slot receiver spot, where his talents after-the-catch would be better utilized, and would probably push Stuckey off the field. With new QB Jake Delhomme looking for help, and a starting RB of Jerome Harrison (really?), adding another big weapon to the passing game might help.
Verdict: Less likely, but I certainly like the possibility of having some of the Browns' first round picks over the next few years while they continue to try to sort things out. It's something that needs to be explored, but I doubt Mike Holmgren is looking to unload any draft picks right now.
SEAHAWKS: I know the Chargers already said no to them, but that doesn't mean they're done talking. A.J. could just be messing with them. I don't understand Seattle's interest though. They have so much money wrapped up in the position already (see: T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Deion Branch) and not a lot of open spots after drafting Steve Smith's clone in Golden Tate.
Verdict: Highly unlikely, but it doesn't mean Pete Carroll will be giving up any time soon.
BUCCANEERS: I told a lot of people last year that Tampa is a team on the rise. Their young, project QB looks like he's going to have a bright future as Donovan McNabb II and the backfield is full of good RBs (seriously, 3 guys that could start in the NFL). They realized that what they need is a little more balance, and used their 2nd and 4th round picks in the 2010 draft to grab WRs to fill their top 2 spots. Behind them are Reggie Brown, who was always supposed to be good for the Eagles and never was, and Michael Clayton, who has never been very good despite being the 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft.
Bringing in VJ would do a couple of things here. It would obviously take a little off the running game by stretching opposing secondaries deep, but it would also open up holes for TE Kellen Boswell Winslow Jr. the way it did for Antonio Gates. Not to mention, the Bucs would then be less-reliant on their rookies to step up, and could allow those guys to share the #2 and/or #3 spots and learn slowly. In a nutshell, adding Jackson would completely change the dynamic of Tampa's offense.
Verdict: No idea. If I'm Tampa, I pull the trigger on this immediately. If I'm Raheem Morris, who came dangerously close to losing his job in his first season, I'm begging for this. If I'm a Bucs fan, I'm dying for this. None of that means it's actually happening though. And who knows if Tampa would be willing to give up what San Diego is asking, with the holes they have on their rebuilding franchise. If I'm the Chargers though, I look at TB being in a different conference on an opposite coast and not being a contender, and I wonder if there's a better place to send him.
BEARS: Watch out for this one. This was a team that had no 1st or 2nd round draft picks in 2010 and went hard after Brandon Marshall. Johnny Knox is an exciting player, but he's not a #1 WR and Devin Hester is not a #2 (and neither is Earl Bennett). Jay Cutler knows this, the Bears fans know this and the front office in Chicago knows this. If there's a big-time WR on the market, they're going to be looking for him.
Verdict: I think this is very likely, which is funny when you throw in the Cutler thing. I know the Bears are desperate to improve their WRs and have deep pockets to boot. The fact that they don't have to pay a signing bonus to a 1st or 2nd rounder while everyone else does makes them doing a contract with VJ a little bit easier as well. The most enticing part for Bears fans though? Some of those "ducks" that Cutler throws get immediately turned into catches or knock-downs by probably the best jump-ball WR in the league.
REDSKINS: These guys have some deep pockets, my friends, and do not hesitate to make anyone the "highest paid" anything. They are eager to make Donovan McNabb's first year a success, so much so that they've discussed bringing in Terrell Owens, but that might be hard when their top two RBs are Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson, and their top two WRs are Santana Moss and Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly. If they could get a guy like Vincent Jackson for McNabb to huck downfield passes to, this could be a somewhat exciting team.
Verdict: Here's an interesting possibility. What about trading VJ for Santana Moss, a 1st round pick and another lower pick (3rd or so)? HEAR ME OUT before you go crazy. First, let's compare their 2009 numbers:
Jackson: 68 catches, 1,167 yards, 9 TDs
Moss: 70 catches, 902 yards, 3 TDs
Is there a drop-off? Of course there is. But number one, Philip Rivers vs. Jason Campbell (and a horrific offensive line, which hurts a small speed guy like Moss the most). And number two, $$$$$.
Acee is reporting, to nobody's surprise, the Jackson is looking for something better than Brandon Marshall's 4-year, $47.5 million dollar deal. Let's imagine he wants 4 years for $50 million, right? That's an average of $12.5 million each of the next four years. Here's what Santana's contract looks like:
2010: $968,500 (+ $3.3315 million "signing" bonus)
2011: $1.192 million
2012: $1.4155 million (voidable by team)
2013: $1.639 million (voidable by team)
So if the Chargers decide to keep Moss for the remainder of his contract, he'd cost $8.5295 million....or roughly $2.1 million per year on average. That's saving some cash.
I'm not trying to argue that Moss is as good or better than Jackson. Far from it. I just think we'd be getting back a #2 or #3 WR (if anyone is worried about WR depth after losing VJ) at 1/6th the cost and that seems like a good deal. This would also allow the Redskins to continue to give on-field time to Kelly and Thomas, who are young but have some potential.