The Vincent Jackson saga in San Diego took another twist over the weekend as the Chargers gave Jackson and his representative permission to talk to the Seahawks about a new contract.
This is a dangerous step for the Chargers, considering Jackson had all offseason to get a team or any teams interested in his services, even though the Chargers placed a first- and third-round tender on retaining his rights.
Teams often will place a high tender on a player to keep his rights, thus controlling his trade value, but are willing to trade a player for less than the tender. An example of this was the Brandon Marshall trade to Miami, in which the Dolphins dealt two second-rounders for Marshall instead of a first and third.
The danger for the Chargers came when they could not find a suitor that would meet Jackson's contract demands. A team might gladly give up a second-round pick for Jackson, but they will not be as easily convinced to pay the sum of money that Jackson feels he is worth -- and there lies one part of the danger.
Jackson has yet to garner an offer, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Chargers to deal him because of Jackson's unwillingness to bend on his demands. What could be even worse for the Chargers would be if Jackson does strike a deal with another team, but that team refuses to deal better than a third rounder to San Diego. This won't work, because the Chargers have made it abundantly clear they won't accept that little in a trade.
This move by the Chargers so late in the trading game tells us two things: 1. The Chargers have moved on from Jackson and feel he is replaceable; 2. The Chargers will take substantially less than a first and third round pick.
But how did things get so messy in this relationship, and why is a divorce the only option?
Jackson has scored 25 touchdowns the last four years. In reality, though, when he first came into the league he was more of a mismatch player in the red zone, someone with great size and leaping ability. The last two seasons he became a full-time wide receiver, catching 127 passes and scoring 16 touchdowns. He has excellent size, hands and speed, combined with a physical style of play that makes him very hard for smaller corners to cover. He has all the qualities of a top receiver. Why wouldn't the Chargers want to sign him to a long-term deal then?
When a player has a breakout season like Jackson has had the last two years, he expects and wants the rewards for his work -- which is natural. In their long-term planning, however, the Chargers have not allocated the kind of money that it will take to re-sign Jackson. The most important asset any contract negotiator has in his repertoire is his ability to say no. "No" is the greatest word a contract man can use, along with the facts of his position.
If in any contractual setting, a negotiator does not have the ability to say no or walk away, then he will make mistakes. The key to being successful in the league is to realize which players are replaceable. Clearly the Chargers feel Jackson is replaceable.
Now, I understand the fans' frustrations with wanting to keep their best players on the team, but football is a business. And like any business there has to be budgets. The Chargers would love to have Jackson back, but only at a feasible price. If they cannot make a deal they want, then they have to maximize their assets by maximizing his trade value.
The way this situation will play out will be that the agent for Jackson will claim that the trade demands are too high, thus preventing him from making a deal. In reality, though, his demands on the contract are too high. At some point the agent for Jackson must realize he has to make a deal the market will bear and move along. Jackson must seize the opportunity and make a deal, or else risk missing his payday and missing this season.
As for Seattle's interest, when was the last time a high-priced wide receiver was traded to another team and went on to make that team happy? You would think Seattle would be reluctant to do any deal like this since they made this mistake once before in trading for Deion Branch.
Orton's extension ideal for Tebow
What does the Kyle Orton signing mean for the future of Tim Tebow in Denver? Nothing -- absolutely nothing. Orton signed a very short-term deal. It was one that offered him short-term financial security, but it did nothing to hold off Tebow from becoming the quarterback of the future. In fact, this signing allows Denver to develop Tebow the right way without it affecting the wins or losses of the team the next two years. It continues to place the pressure on Orton to keep performing, all the while knowing that Tebow will be on his heels every day in practice.
Tebow will continue to grow as a quarterback, but more importantly the Broncos offense will grow around him. The key for the Broncos' success with Tebow is for them to build a "Tebow offense," which highlights his strengths. So far this preseason his strengths have been clear. He is a great leader, he is tough, and he can run or throw the ball effectively. His mind is sharp, his decision-making is impressive for a young player, and he appears decisive with the ball.
This year he is learning the system, next year his skills will be developed in the system, and then he will be ready to be the man by the third year. At that point Orton's contract will be expired, and the Broncos will be in a perfect position. If Tebow falls apart, the Broncos will just give Orton the franchise tag and move on from Tebow. Either way, they are in the driver's seat.
From the preseason film room...
» Former Eagle Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews signing with the Giants looks great on paper, but unless Andrews starts to love football he will not be able to help them. Andrew's is talented, but his desire to be a player is often questioned.
» The Bucs might say Josh Freeman's injury will allow him to play on opening day, but a broken thumb on his throwing hand makes it difficult. I am not as optimistic, and I bet the Browns are looking forward to seeing Freeman attempt to throw in the opener.
» The Browns look much better on offense this year than at any point last year. Much more organized and with a clearer identity. You can see Mike Holmgren's influence.